In the race for the NFL Awards, the MVP won’t be the only one close


Before Sunday’s right foot injury derailed his season, Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry deserved to be considered, and possibly dismissed, for the 2021 NFL Most Valuable Player award.

No other quarterback has won the award since Adrian Peterson in 2012. The analyst community insists that even the most productive running back is far less valuable to his team than the top dozen or so quarterbacks. the league. Still, Henry was on the verge of running nearly 2,000 yards and was almost single-handedly guarding the Titans (6-2). In a season in which no quarterback fled as a favorite for the award, Henry was poised to cause a dilemma for voters and spark some heated debate on the internet.

With Henry out six to ten weeks after his foot surgery on Tuesday, MVP voters face a different dilemma. Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen is favored by sports betting to win the prize (+250) even though he ranks 11th in the league in passing yards (1972), is tied for fifth in passing touchdowns (17) and in ninth place for the efficiency index (103.1). The betting public seems to like Allen more than the voters, perhaps because the betting public is full of rowdy Bills fans who have had no reason to get excited for nearly 30 years.

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (+600) is a stronger candidate than Allen. Stafford ranks among the league leaders in the most relevant passing categories and is first in the ESPN quarterback standings and Football Underdogs Defense Adjusted to Average (DVOA) metrics. His story – a veteran quarterback who escaped the sad Detroit Lions to rejuvenate a struggling competitor – will also convince voters in a way that Allen’s supporters’ best arguments (vote for him or we’ll go down I-87 to smash your patio furniture) Won’t do.

The rest of the field of MVP candidates consists of flawed and polarizing options. Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (+600) is a strong contender for the first time after his team’s first loss of the season; he could lose pace like Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers (+2500) has done in recent weeks.

Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys (+650) can be sent in a separate price category (see below). Voters might think that giving Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (+600) another trophy is like giving Jeff Bezos a $ 50 Amazon gift certificate for his birthday. Kansas City Chiefs perennial favorite Patrick Mahomes (+4,000) has decided to release a B-sides and snippets album this year.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was getting +800 chances before testing positive for coronavirus this week. Rodgers will now miss at least Sunday’s game with Kansas City, and his MVP chances are likely to drop.

Other NFL awards races have been thrown into confusion in recent weeks, both by Henry’s injury and by developments beyond.

Henry won the Offensive Player of the Year award in 2020 and brought a touch of prestige to an award that typically carries the stigma of a silver medalist. He was such a prohibitive favorite to repeat this year that many sportsbooks took the category off the table earlier in the week. Receiver rams Cooper Kupp is now the likely top candidate for an honor that often, but not always, goes to the league’s top running back or wide receiver.

Some in the analytical community argue that the second best quarterback in the league would be more worthy of the award than someone like Henry or Kupp, but others know when to step down and let people enjoy things.

The Cowboys Trevon Diggs is on track to equal the NFL’s one-season interception record, but he’s not the favorite for a prize that only three cornerbacks have won since 1995. Diggs’ odds stand at +500 while Cleveland Browns passer Myles Garrett is +300 and Pittsburgh Steelers TJ Watt is +400. Neither Watt nor Garrett have a historic season, but voters tend to remember every mistake a cornerback makes while forgetting the 50-plus shots per game in which even the best passers get pushed around by their blockers.

Ja’Marr Chase of the Cincinnati Bengals, profiled last week in that space and on course for the best season by a rookie wide receiver since Randy Moss in 1998, is a prohibitive favorite at -140. His only serious challenger is New England Patriots student driver Mac Jones (+300), who looks less like a rookie quarterback than the astral projection of coach Bill Belichick’s desire to prove he doesn’t need Brady. to succeed.

Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons, Giants rusher Azeez Ojulari, Kansas City linebacker Nick Bolton and other rookie defensemen are having some remarkable seasons, but Parsons is the clear favorite at +125 to win an honor traditionally bestowed on a newcomer who has made himself know during his academic career and whose team is frequently on national television.

Dak prescott came back from last year’s ankle injury to shake up a Cowboys team that spent all of 2020 watching Netflix in their pajamas out of their slump. Despite the calf injury that ruled him out last week, Prescott is a prohibitive lock at -500 to receive the honor.

Favorites of a crowded field include Kliff Kingsbury (+700), whose Cardinals have emerged as contenders this year; Brandon Staley, whose rating (+700) could fade with his Chargers; Sean McVay (+950), who revitalized the Rams with help from Stafford; and Zac Taylor (+1200), the architect of the suddenly relevant Bengals.

The odds of Coach of the Year honors going to anyone but a millennial prodigy with the meticulously crafted features of a personal trainer in an overpriced fitness center previously seemed astronomical. Mike McCarthy (+600) slipped to the front of the field leading the Cowboys to victory over the Minnesota Vikings without Prescott.

In fact, the only thing between the Cowboys and a sweep of most NFL playoff honors can be some sort of melodramatic end-of-season squad-wide swoon. In other words, all the reward races remain in the game.

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