Predictions For 2023 MVP Winner Include Mahomes, Burrow, Hurts


Calling all bettors! The NFL Draft is now firmly behind us. Next, we turn fully to the approaching 2023 campaign — and with it, the glory that awaits a player who will be named MVP. Here are the Associated Press NFL MVP odds and predictions for the coming regular season. All NFL betting lines are based on DraftKings Sportsbook from May 4, 2023.

2023 MVP Odds

Patrick Mahomes walked away with his second MVP trophy last season. Only nine other players have won this award twice: Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner, Brett Favre, Steve Young, Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, and Jim Brown. Let’s examine the odds for the 2023 season.

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  • Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs (+650)
  • Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals (+700)
  • Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills (+750)
  • Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers (+1000)
  • Jalen Hurts, QB, Philadelphia Eagles (+1000)
  • Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens (+1500)
  • Justin Fields, QB, Chicago Bears (+1600)
  • Aaron Rodgers, QB, New York Jets (+1600)
  • Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars (+1600)
  • Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Miami Dolphins (+1800)
  • Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys (+2000)
  • Deshaun Watson, QB, Cleveland Browns (+3000)
  • Russell Wilson, QB, Denver Broncos (+3500)
  • Geno Smith, QB, Seattle Seahawks (+3500)
  • Jared Goff, QB, Detroit Lions (+3500)
  • Trey Lance, QB, San Francisco 49ers (+3500)

Who Is the Favorite To Win the MVP?

The pattern above jumps out like a bat in a cave (if bats jumped). The only betting lines available are for quarterbacks. Why? For starters, a QB has won each of the last 10 MVP awards, as well as 15 of the last 16.

Since the award began in 1957, running backs have been the other most popular choice — though clearly, that’s changed in the modern NFL, which puts more weight on proficient passing attacks than in the olden days.

Interestingly, a wide receiver has never won it. But a linebacker has (Lawrence Taylor for the 1986 season). So has a defensive tackle (Alan Page in 1971). Even a kicker (Mark Moseley) claimed the honors in the strike-shortened 1982 season, when he connected in 20 of 21 field goals. He missed three out of 19 extra points, but apparently, that didn’t matter too much for the eventual Super Bowl champions.

Not to dig too deep here, but … OK, I’m going to dig deep. What the heck happened in 1982? With all respect to Moseley, he beat out Chargers QB Dan Fouts by two votes. Fouts threw for 2,883 yards and 17 passing TDs while adding one score on the ground … in nine games.

Projected out to a full season, he was on pace for 5,125 passing yards and 32 total touchdowns while leading his team to their fourth consecutive postseason. The year before, he threw for 4,802 yards and 33 scores. No one else in the league in 1981 threw for 4,000+ yards. Fouts was clearly the most statistically dominant QB of that period.

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Did the voters believe Fouts would get another shot — that this was Moseley’s one chance at glory? “Dan will be back better than ever next season,” someone might have said.

Well, Fouts never got that shot. He never earned another vote for MVP. Ugh.

Anyway, this year’s favorite is no surprise. Patrick Mahomes is in the prime of his career — or perhaps is a year or two away from reaching his peak. He has two MVPs in his pocket and leads the best team in the league (until proven otherwise). If the Chiefs do as well as expected, then Mahomes will be a big reason why — thus, his standing as the MVP frontrunner.

MVP Predictions

As referenced above, voters have been partial to quarterbacks for a while. Moreover, they prefer QBs who win.

During these past 16 years, the 15 QB winners have played for teams that combined for a 201-41 regular-season record. The only squad that didn’t win 12+ games was the 11-5 Falcons of 2016. But they were No. 1 in the league in scoring. So naturally, QB Matt Ryan earned a bump.

Only three teams during this span have won “merely” 12 games. Two of those offenses also led the league in scoring in those MVP seasons. The only outlier was the 12-4 Colts from 2008, in which Peyton Manning netted his third MVP award despite securing his worst QB rating in six years. Not that QB ratings should matter. But it’s not as if he dominated.

It speaks volumes, though, that QB Chad Pennington tied for a distant second in MVP voting that year, while Drew Brees — who became only the second QB to throw for 5,000+ yards in a season — didn’t get a single vote. Why? Perhaps because his Saints were only 8-8.

So yeah, record matters. And that should factor heavily into our predictions.

Among the quarterbacks with betting lines, the QBs most at risk of finishing with a losing record include Justin Fields, Deshaun Watson, and Russell Wilson. Perhaps their ceilings are around 10-7. But I don’t think that’ll cut it with the voting committee, even if they lead the NFL in a major statistical category.

Speaking of 10-7, that’s a useful barometer for gauging some of the other guys on the list — particularly those in highly competitive divisions. The AFC East is as tough as ever, with at least three of those teams presenting tough defenses to opposing QBs. Considering Tua Tagovailoa’s injury risks, Aaron Rodgers’ potential decline, and Josh Allen’s likelihood of running less than usual, can we predict blow-up campaigns for any of them?

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Sure, Allen is the best bet of the three. But if he’s running only two-thirds as much and leaning a bit more on his backfield, that could have a ripple effect on a squad that might realistically go 12-5.

Geno Smith falls into a similar camp. As well as the Seahawks seemed to have drafted this year, they’re still fighting an uphill battle to overtake the 49ers. Smith played as well as one might have imagined heading into last season. He also slowed down at the end of the year. Was it the tougher schedule? Did defenses begin to figure him out? Or both?

Justin Herbert has the misfortune of playing in the AFC West with Mahomes. Everything he does will be measured against what his intra-divisional rival does. It’ll be an uphill climb for Herbert once again.

And Trey Lance seems like the ultimate Hail Mary. Will he even start more than half of the Niners’ games? Quite possibly. And he could get benched when Brock Purdy is 100%. There’s a lot of risk there.

That leaves Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson, Trevor Lawrence, Dak Prescott, and Jared Goff. Heading into last season, I pushed Goff hard as one of the most underrated quarterbacks. But is he an MVP candidate? Now that Jameson Williams is suspended for six games, and with the catch-friendly D’Andre Swift in Philly, Goff is missing two key guys to help elevate his production.

It’s a no-brainer to say Mahomes and Hurts are the sensible wagers, and not just because they faced off in the last Super Bowl. For different reasons, they’re the two best quarterbacks in the game. Yes, we could make a case for Allen and others. But Mahomes and Hurts realistically could post better numbers than they did last year, and with comparable team success.

And yes, Joe Burrow deserves his positioning as a near favorite. And I’m not going to sit here and claim otherwise. At the same time, with Joe Mixon’s status still a bit up in the air, I’m wondering if the Bengals’ offense might struggle to move the ball on the ground, and what impact that might have on Cincy’s ability to sustain as many drives and to win as many games.

MVP Sleepers

  • Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens (+1500)
  • Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars (+1600)
  • Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys (+2000)

As strange as it will surely sound, Dak Prescott is a fascinating sleeper at +2000. Throw out last year and focus instead on his last two “full” seasons. For the 2021 campaign, he earned the second-most votes (behind Joe Burrow) for the Comeback Player of the Year award after posting a blistering 4,449-37-10 passing line in 16 games. Two years before that, he hit 4,902-30-11.

Perhaps his injuries have taken their toll. Maybe not having Amari Cooper last year had a profound impact, as he leaned heavily on CeeDee Lamb while lacking a reliable No. 2 wideout.

But this is the same guy who was on a pace to break some quarterback records in 2020 before going down for the season. A lot of people knock him. Certainly, the Cowboys have underwhelmed in the playoffs. However, when it comes to winning an MVP, if Prescott can get back to 2021 levels on a Dallas team that goes 13-4 or better, then he might finally get the ultimate recognition.

The other two sleepers are Lamar Jackson (+1500) and Trevor Lawrence (+1600). Never count out Jackson, who now has arguably the best receiving corps he’s enjoyed as a professional. Health is his wild card. If he can start 15 games, he’ll be in the running.

As for Lawrence, he’ll be one of the best in the game eventually. Will it be this year? The brilliant trade for Calvin Ridley could be a difference-maker. The Jags probably need to win 12+ games. If Tennessee bails on Derrick Henry and begins a rebuild in earnest, then it can only help Lawrence’s path to an MVP.

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