After two weeks of the NFL season, two predictable names are atop Bovada’s MVP odds: Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, at 5-1. Brady entered the year at this value while Rodgers has dipped from a 3-1 front-runner. A third quarterback is at 5-1 and it’s a bit of a surprise.
Matthew Stafford, owner of the richest contract in league history and beating heart of the Detroit Lions. All he’s done is complete 44 of 62 passes and throw a league-leading six touchdowns while steering the surprising Motor City Kitties to a 2-0 start. Perhaps most impressively, he shined on Monday night against the Giants in a 122-yard performance thanks to clutch plays and his nimble legs.
Stafford won a game he actually led going into the fourth quarter, something he did only once in 2016. He is thriving in Jim Bob Cooter’s system and it’s refreshing to see him get the accolades he deserves while shedding some of the Stat Padford label.
But as your internet friend, I feel compelled to stop you before you do anything rash like gamble on Stafford to win the NFL MVP. It’s not that it can’t happen, it’s just that 5-1 is no value considering what would have to happen to facilitate such a vote.
Most obviously, Stafford must continue his excellent play and the Lions must continue to win football games. The former seems like a safer bet than the latter. The Lions may not be the playoff-caliber unit on display early. Arizona and New York aren’t exactly the fiercest competition.
Home dates against Atlanta, Carolina, and Pittsburgh loom in addition to journeys to Baltimore and Tampa Bay. Then there’s the two games against the Rodgers-led Packers. Best-case scenario? Stafford and the Lions get to 10 wins.
Even then, that will likely mean a wild-card spot with Green Bay winning the NFC North. Even if Stafford outplays Rodgers — and that’s a huge if — it’s tough to imagine voters giving it to a guy who didn’t win his division.
Also, Brady is still Brady. And the narrative that he’s piloting a less-than-stacked offense is yet another reason for voters to salivate over his play. Should he lead another 12-4 season with a patchwork stable of skill players around him, that will be compelling to voters.
It’s early. And there’s obviously a handful of other contenders who could surpass Stafford with their play. At this point it doesn’t feel necessary to mention them because the Lions QB is a clubhouse leader in name only. Sure, he’s tied with Brady and Rodgers in Vegas. In reality, he’s still lagging behind, fair or otherwise, with a tougher road to travel in the future.
Pump those breaks. Please don’t bet on Stafford to win the MVP. Not at 5-1. Not at 10-1. Maybe at 12-1. Definitely at 15-1.