Going into the 2020 NFL season, the NFL MVP trophy felt like it was Patrick Mahomes’ to lose. Two years ago, he lit the world afire with 5,000 passing yards and 50 touchdowns.
As an encore, he won the Super Bowl last year.
Entering his third season, Mahomes owned the best 2020 NFL MVP odds, and his team brought back his same supporting cast, paid him a boatload of money, and even drafted a versatile weapon in Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
On paper, Mahomes was the pick to win for the second time in three years. His team is 3-0 and he’s coming off a complete demolition (five touchdowns) of the Baltimore Ravens now, too.
This is kind of the worst possible time to talk about why Patrick Mahomes might be a poor 2020 NFL MVP bet. But that’s why I’m here.
Not because I don’t like Mahomes. He’s insanely likable. Not because he isn’t a good bet. I literally picked him to win before the season started. But because bettors need to consider all aspects of any wager.
Patrick Mahomes was the locked and loaded favorite to win the 2020 NFL MVP. Unfortunately, I don’t think he should be anymore. Here are a few reasons why.
Russell Wilson is the New Favorite
Let’s discuss the elephant in the room. Mahomes is the league’s golden boy. He’s the defending champ, he’s going to put up big numbers, and he just got paid.
But he’s not the favorite to win this year’s NFL MVP anymore.
Not when Russell Wilson is putting the Seattle Seahawks on his back in a way nobody ever has before.
Wilson (+225 favorite at Sportsbetting.ag) is doing all the work for a team that previously preferred to run the ball into piles and hope he’d bail them out in the fourth quarter.
Instead, #LetRussCook is trending, the Seahawks are 3-0, and the guy that never got an NFL MVP vote before in his life is turning into a guy you wouldn’t dare bet against.
Even if you love Mahomes to win in 2020, you have to think long and hard about the likelihood of Wilson preventing that from happening.
There Are Other NFL MVP Contenders, Too
Okay, so it’s probably Russell Wilson’s race to lose, but what if he gets hurt, or this historic start to his season fizzles out? It’s not crazy, seeing as seemingly everyone is getting injured this year.
That, and maintaining ridiculous statistical tears like this isn’t very easy.
But it’s not necessarily just Russell Wilson bettors need to be worried about. Mahomes has plenty of outside competition that could keep him from hoisting the trophy.
His numbers are fantastic, his Packers are undefeated, and he’s looking exceptional en route to putting 37+ points on the table in every game so far this year.
Dak Prescott and Lamar Jackson have also been terrific dual-threat quarterbacks, Kyler Murray has forced some of us to wonder if Jackson’s insane 2019 rushing totals can be topped, and Josh Allen has done some incredible things.
Mahomes is the guy the NFL wants to prop up, and he’s so likable, that most of us will follow suit. But he’s not alone in the “playing out of this world realm” right now.
It’s just three weeks. Things could cool down. The elite will be left standing as the not-so-elite fade away. But will Mahomes for sure be standing atop the NFL MVP leaderboard when the dust settles? Not necessarily.
The Chiefs Don’t Need Mahomes to Be Great
Not all of the time, anyways.
Andy Reid is a play-calling wizard. Eric Bieneimy is a masterful offensive assistant. Mahomes operates out of an amazing system, with explosive weapons, and his offense is now as balanced and as dynamic as ever.
Heck, if we’re to buy the hype of the first three weeks, Kansas City even has a defense.
I’m sure we saw that to some degree last year, but the defense has been on another level this year. Through three weeks, they made Deshaun Watson look amateur, and in week three, they just got done making Lamar Jackson look, well, bad.
Mahomes has gone off in two of his three games, but to win the league MVP, you can’t take games off. Mahomes will need to pick up the pace and consistently be the main reason the Chiefs are as good as they are.
He still is the reason, no matter what, but unless that’s reflected outwardly and painfully obvious, the votes may not trickle in.
Repeating as League MVP Isn’t Easy
Call it difficult. Call it rare. Whatever the case, you simply don’t see guys win multiple NFL MVPs all that often.
Usually, it goes to the truly special NFL stars more than once, and to his credit, Mahomes certainly qualifies as such. But the league has a tendency to reward the best overall performance for a given year.
It’s not just about anointing the best player. It’s about honoring the best individual season. Mahomes had that in spades two years ago, and injury (plus Lamar going off) took him out of the equation in 2019.
Mahomes is back in the mix, but he will probably need something epic to get back in the NFL MVP spotlight. That means crazy numbers, breaking records, and/or leading KC to the league’s best record.
He’s capable of all of that, and more. However, if someone else has better numbers and gains momentum, a guy who already won – and recently, I might add – could easily get passed over.
Narrative is a Heck of a Thing
Perhaps the biggest obstacle for Patrick Mahomes winning the 2020 NFL MVP is narrative. Narratives drive everything in life, but they especially hangover sports like a dark cloud.
They can be both good and bad, and when it comes to the race for something like the MVP award, you need the best narrative to survive. Or you need ridiculous video game numbers.
Well, probably both.
In 2020, Mahomes doesn’t presently have the narrative. His Chiefs are trying to repeat as Super Bowl champions, he’s elevated to being the best quarterback in the league, and he’s capable of dominating each and every time he touches the field.
But (more on this in a second), nobody seems to care.
Why? Because Josh Allen plays a similar style and has been about as impressive. Aaron Rodgers has turned back the clock. Russell Wilson is finally getting to cook. Kyler Murray is the next big thing. Lamar Jackson still exists, too.
All of these guys – and possibly more – have narratives backing what currently are (and should continue to be) MVP-like numbers. If the numbers are remotely comparable, and one of these guys has a better narrative, who do you think is winning MVP?
We Already Take Mahomes For Granted
Lastly, and perhaps this is kind of baked into some of these other points, but it is becoming pretty clear that we take Patrick Mahomes for granted.
I think everyone still appropriately marvels at what he can do. But personally, I had to stop and remind myself of how amazing his play really is as recently as week three.
Mahomes was evading rushers, he rolled back across the field, stopped, and threw the ball perfectly across his body to an open receiver. It was a converted third down that probably 95% of the league couldn’t make.
And it’s something Mahomes has made routine. But he’s so amazing – so consistently special – that we’re already starting to get a bit jaded when he drops the hammer.
Whether he wins the NFL MVP or not, we need to be careful of that. We need to ensure we don’t let that happen. It already is happening, though, and it could contribute to a deserving MVP candidate getting overlooked.
Who Will Win the 2020 NFL MVP Award?
My preseason pick was Mahomes. His price was nice, he has the best offense in football, and it felt like his turn to get back to wrecking after taking a statistical step backward in 2019.
Mahomes can still be the most dominant quarterback in the league. In a very real way, he truly is. It just may not lead to another NFL MVP win just yet.
The main problem here is there are too many moving pieces beyond Mahomes’ control. He is wrecking and he can continue to wreck. But because of his natural talent and the weapons at his disposal, it won’t come off as impressive as it will for other players.
Right now, the guy to beat is Russell Wilson. He is on a pace the league has literally never seen before.
The Seahawks are finally buying into allowing him to be the reason their offense clicks, and he has the weapons to make it happen.
When you look at narrative, pricing, and production, all roads lead to Wilson. You could state a case against him with a lot of the same logic here, but if this race is close, the tiebreaker may go to the guy that “is due”.
Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at GamblingSites.com. Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.
When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.