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Sports betting news | Nov 05, 2021

2021 NFL MVP Candidates to Watch

By RTR Alex

2021 MVP Candidates banner

As we cross the half-way mark of the 2021 NFL season, the MVP race has started to take form with some clear frontrunners leading the pack. There are a few players consistently outshining the rest but still some underdogs fighting to prove their worth, and with 11 weeks still to come they may just do so. We've seen MVP stocks plummet in the face of fumbles and injuries, and seen others spike with broken-records and win streaks putting them atop divisional tables.

We'll be taking a look at what the odds have to say, as well as factoring in some expert analysis from reporting veterans Field Yates, Seth Walder, Jeremy Fowler and many more. As per usual, quarterbacks from top scoring teams are favourites in the odds but be sure to keep an eye out for those who may just surprise us all.

Top 5 Favourites:

1. Kyler Murray

2021 Stats: 2,276 Passing Yards, 17 TDs, 7 INTs, 72.7% completion. Total QBR: 110.4

Murray leads the most consistently astounding offence in the NFL right now. They maintained a 7-week win streak until last Sunday’s game against Green Bay. The loss came with a last second Packers’ interception in the end-zone, after Kyler led what should have been a game-winning drive. The turnover came from a miscommunication between Murray and AJ Green -after an audible was called, Green failed to turn around for a TD-bound ball which flew straight past him and into the hands of cornerback Rasul Douglas.

Despite this tough 3-point loss, Kyler has repeatedly proven to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league this year. He’s an elusive escape-artist when in trouble, securing plenty of yards with his feet and has great pocket presence - trusting his offensive line and standing strong to make the necessary throws. But his ability to evade the blitz and make completions on the run is perhaps his most valuable asset.

The Cardinals have scored at least 30 points in all but two games this season and have gained 400+ yards of offence in 5 out of 8 games. At this point they seem almost guaranteed to be the top draw in the playoffs and Murray will likely remain a strong contender for the MVP title throughout the next 9 weeks. He currently sits at +600 in the NFL MVP odds, which puts him joint 2nd with Brady.

2. Tom Brady

2021 stats: 2650 passing yards, 25 TDs, 5 INTs, 67.3% completion. Total QBR: 108.6

Coming off his seventh Super Bowl title and his fifth Super Bowl MVP award, Tom Brady is showing no signs of slowing down, even at 44 years old. Brady leads the NFL in passing yards at 2650 and quarterback touchdowns, with 25 to his name.

With elite-level skill position talent surrounding him in Tampa Bay, Brady has been able to take full advantage of stretching defences thin and throwing all over the field. The Bucs have regularly scored over 30 points per game and have clocked some impressive wins – namely 38-3 against Chicago and as usual, coming in clutch for close games, like their 31-29 win in Week 2.

The Bucs sit at first place in the NFC South at 6-2, but with their bye-week still to come and the Saints close behind at 5-2, the division lead is still up for grabs.

3. Matthew Stafford

2021 stats: 2477 passing yards, 22 TDs, 4 INTs, 68.9% completion. Total QBR: 118

Stafford’s stock has been slowly rising throughout the season, bringing him into MVP conversations in the last few weeks. The Rams seem to have found their franchise quarterback for the foreseeable future. It looks like sending Goff to Detroit was the best move they could have made – their 0-8 record really says it all.

After 12 seasons at the Lions, never coming close to an MVP title or a Super Bowl for that matter, Stafford is seizing the opportunity, now playing in a team destined for title contention this year. He has continued to shine throughout the season, coming in second place in passing yards and quarterback touchdowns. He has the highest QB rating, at 118, with a 68% completion percentage.

Stafford looks set to make a lasting impact in LA and lead them through a strong playoff run. He clearly has a great connection with Cooper Kupp, who leads the league in receiving yards this year, and with a strong O-line and defence, the Rams are shaping up to be a great force in the NFC.

4. Josh Allen

2021 Stats: 1972 passing yards, 17 TDs, 3 INTs, 65.4% completion. Total QBR: 103.1

Josh Allen currently sits in first place with the MVP odds right now. He’s shown that last season’s success was no fluke, continuing to hit a high completion percentage and carrying his team to the top of the AFC East.

In a tough 3-point loss to the Titans in Week 6, the Bills bounced back for a convincing 26-11 win over the Dolphins. Allen has taken the team to some astounding score lines – namely their 40-0 win over Houston, 35-0 in their first matchup with Miami and a solid 38-0 against a strong Chiefs side. The Bills QB has shown he’s capable of showing up in all important moments and sustaining leads to beat out some tough competition.

If the Bills can continue their scoring form, and hold their position atop the AFC East, they’ll be looking at a great playoff standing and could potentially take it all the way. Allen is currently first in the MVP odds at +225 and could definitely stay there if he holds his form.

5. Dak Prescott

2021 Stats: 2,276 Passing Yards, 17 TDs, 7 INTs, 72.7% completion. Total QBR: 110.4

Dak Prescott has already sealed ‘comeback player of the year’ after suffering a gruesome ankle injury last year and now has his sights on MVP.

The Dallas Cowboys have proved the odds wrong after going on a 6-game win streak since their Week 1 2-point loss against Tampa. They have significantly outdone their starting odds-spread and are first in the NFC East. Although a lot could be said for such poor divisional competition, the Cowboys have still come out on top, in games against some good opponents.

He and the Cowboys have the most explosive and unstoppable offences in the league, with an average of over 34 points per game. If Prescott continues his form and steers clear of re-injury, he could lead Dallas into a first-week bye come postseason.

Stock Drops:

Patrick Mahomes

The Chiefs 4-4 record has them in unfamiliar territory. This is the first time since the 2019 playoffs that Kansas City has not been favourites to win the Super Bowl. Mahomes has had some underwhelming performances in recent games - specifically the 27-3 to the Titans - where not a single touchdown was scored by the Chiefs offence. Mahomes has also thrown the 10 interceptions, almost double what he threw all last year – giving him a terrible ratio to the 19 touchdowns scored.

Despite this, Mahomes has still racked up a minimum of 30 points in 5 of the last 6 games. They still have the chance to overtake the Chargers in the AFC West to potentially grab a wild card spot in the playoffs. It would take a few losses from Herbert's side, but with some tough opponents still left to play, this is definitely possible.

We all know what Mahomes is capable of, and with his confidence still letting no-look passes fly, he could come back and run opponents into the ground from here-on-out. They have shown they can win close games against strong competition, with a 33-29 scoreline against the Browns and 28-25 over the Vikings. More importantly, the Chiefs next half of the season holds some much easier matchups and should give Mahomes the opportunity to shine.

Lamar Jackson

Week 7 proved devastating for Lamar and the Ravens - in a game that would settle first place in the AFC North, the Ravens did everything except put up a good fight. Lamar was outshone by Joe Burrow and the Bengals offense, with Jackson gaining a total of just 257 yards versus Cincinnati's 416. Something could be said for Baltimore's offensive line giving up 4 sacks, especially given how ever-elusive Jackson has been since he entered the NFL.

Jackson has still had an impressive season, despite Week 7. In the Ravens win over Indianapolis, he overcame the biggest deficit of his career and set the NFL record for a single game completion percentage at 86%. He threw for over 400 passing yards and as such, continues to prove wrong those who claim he's better suited as a running back. With plenty of the season left, Lamar could continue his form preceding this recent defeat, but it will be a challenge for him to surpass Burrow and the Bengals to secure a playoff spot.

Just Missed:

Derrick Henry

After being carted off with a foot injury in last week’s game, Henry is now likely going to be out for most of the season. He was on track to have an MVP-level year, which has sadly been cut short - he had already hit the 1,000 yard mark in 8 games and racked up 10 touchdowns and only one fumble. Hopefully we'll see him return in his regular form next year and maybe even take the MVP title with it.

Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers is certainly still in the running for 2021 MVP, but at this point he sits just below the top 5 in the odds. He has led the Packers to a 6-1 season, and they are now in first place in the NFC North. If not for Prescott’s comeback from injury and similar season record, Rodgers would certainly have taken the fifth spot on this list and he is definitely on the brink of moving up in the odds.

With 9 games left, everything is still to play for this year - we could see candidates come out of nowhere to steal the spotlight, or we could see Allen, Murray or Brady pull well-ahead of the pack and secure the title in the coming weeks. Make sure to keep an eye out on the performances from all of these players in Week 9 with some interesting match-ups ahead. The Chiefs face the Packers in a Mahomes-Rodgers showdown, the Ravens face the Vikings and the Rams host Tennessee while the Cardinals are pitted against the 49ers, which could settle first place in the NFC West, and potentially flip the MVP odds.