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6 NFL MVPs That Should Have Won the Super Bowl
The NFL MVP is typically the best player in the league, who plays for one of the best teams. That best player is almost always a quarterback.
When you look back, it may be surprising to know that only ten MVPs have gone on to win the Super Bowl. That’s less than 20 percent.
It’s fair to wonder if it’s worth it to bet on the league MVP winning the Super Bowl. They likely don’t present great value, so it might be wise to stay away.
Over the years, there have been MVPs that should’ve won the Super Bowl. Let’s check out their season and see why they came up short.
6. LaDainian Tomlinson (2006)
It’s not often you see a non-quarterback win MVP, but LaDainian Tomlinson managed to do it with a record-breaking season.
In terms of rushing yards, Tomlinson didn’t have a big start to the season. He failed to clear 100 yards in five of his first six games. He did have a four-touchdown game in that stretch.
Following a 4-2 start, the San Diego Chargers ran the table to finish the season 14-2.
Tomlinson cleared 100 rushing yards in nine of those ten games, including a season-high 199 in Week 15. He also had multiple rushing touchdowns eight times.
- 1,815 rushing yards
- 28 rushing touchdowns
- 508 receiving yards
- 3 receiving touchdowns
His 28 rushing touchdowns and 31 total touchdowns are an NFL record.
San Diego had a solid passing offense, but their rushing attack ranked second in yards and first in touchdowns.
Following a bye, the Chargers hosted the New England Patriots.
The Chargers offense struggled early, but they scored a pair of rushing touchdowns in the second quarter, including a five-yarder by Tomlinson.
In the fourth quarter, the Chargers held a 14-13 lead. Tomlinson scored his second touchdown of the day to give San Diego an eight-point lead midway through the quarter. Unfortunately, the Chargers defense couldn’t stop Tom Brady.
Brady led back-to-back scoring drives to give New England a three-point lead. San Diego missed a game-tying field goal in the final seconds.
Tomlinson had an excellent performance with 187 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns. The issue was he ran into Brady and the Patriots.
5. Aaron Rodgers (2011)
Aaron Rodgers has had a lot of great seasons in his Hall of Fame career, but his 2011 season takes the cake.
Rodgers passed for 295+ yards in his first seven games. Coincidentally, his first two games under that mark included four touchdown passes each.
The Green Bay Packers didn’t lose their first game of the season until Week 16. It was a massive upset as the Packers came into the matchup as (-11.5) point home favorites. This also marked the only time in 2011 Rodgers failed to have multiple touchdown passes.
Green Bay finished the season with a 15-1 record.
- 68.3 completion percentage
- 4,643 passing yards
- 45 touchdowns
- 6 interceptions
- 122.5 passer rating
- 83.8 QBR
The Packers had a fantastic offense that led the league in points per game and ranked third in yards. On the other hand, their defense allowed the most yards. That left them vulnerable if their offense ever had a down game.
New York’s offense came out firing, scoring on four of their first six drives. Green Bay scored on their first two drives but failed to score for the remainder of the first half. The Giants capped off the first half with a Hail Mary touchdown to give them a 20-10 lead.
Green Bay’s offense couldn’t lead a comeback. They lost 37-20, ending their chances at a second straight Super Bowl.
Rodgers had a solid performance with 264 passing yards and two touchdowns. Still, it wasn’t up to his MVP standards.
With that, the 2011 Packers became one of the best NFL teams in NFL history not to win the Super Bowl.
4. Patrick Mahomes (2018)
Patrick Mahomes’ 2018 MVP season is impressive in its own right. Then, you factor in that he made one start in his rookie season. This was his first full-time season.
Mahomes came out on fire, passing for 11 touchdowns in his first three games. In the middle portion of the season, he had an insane run that saw him pass for 27 touchdowns in seven games. That included one of the greatest Monday night football games in NFL history.
The Kansas City Chiefs finished with the best record in the AFC at 12-4. As for Mahomes, he won MVP thanks to these numbers.
- 66.0 completion percentage
- 5,097 passing yards
- 50 touchdowns
- 12 interceptions
- 113.8 passer rating
- 80.3 QBR
Like the 2011 Green Bay Packers, Kansas City had an elite offense and terrible defense. They allowed the second-most yards.
In the Divisional Round, their defense actually played well. They held the Indianapolis Colts offense to six points in a 31-13 victory. Mahomes failed to throw for a touchdown, but he had 278 yards and a rushing touchdown.
It’s interesting to look at the AFC Championship Game because the Chiefs came in as (-3.0) point favorites, but their Super Bowl odds were worse than the New England Patriots.
Kansas City pulled within three on an early fourth-quarter touchdown. Following three straight scoreless drives, both offenses woke up.
- 23-yard touchdown pass (17-21)
- 10-yard touchdown run (24-21)
- 2-yard touchdown run (24-28)
- 4-yard touchdown run (31-28)
- 39-yard field goal (31-31)
That all happened in eight minutes. On the Patriots final touchdown drive, the Chiefs had the game-sealing interception taken off the board because of a penalty.
In overtime, the Patriots won the toss and scored the game-winning touchdown.
3. Dan Marino (1984)
Unfortunately, Dan Marino’s legacy is being the best quarterback never to win the Super Bowl. He is also one of the best athletes ever not to win a title.
Even so, we can’t discount his run at the Super Bowl in 1984.
Marino kicked off the season with a bang. He passed for 311 yards and five touchdowns in a victory over the Washington Redskins.
Miami dropped two of their last five games, but it was through no fault of Marino. He passed for four touchdowns in each of his last four games.
He finished the season with 5,084 passing yards and 48 touchdowns.
Those are great numbers in today’s generation, but that was unheard of during that time. Check out other great passing seasons in the 20th century.
|Most Passing Yards||Most Passing Touchdowns|
|Dan Marino (1984) – 5,084||Dan Marino (1984) – 48|
|Dan Fouts (1981) – 4,802||Dan Marino (1986) – 44|
|Dan Marino (1986) – 4,746||Kurt Warner (1999) – 41|
Marino threw three touchdowns in the Dolphins 31-10 victory in the Divisional Round.
There was no slowing him down in the AFC Championship Game. Marino passed for 421 yards and four touchdowns to send Miami to the Super Bowl.
Miami came in as the (+3.0) point underdog to the San Francisco 49ers, but they held a 10-7 lead after the first quarter. Unfortunately, that was their only highlight of the game.
San Francisco dominated both sides of the ball, outscoring Miami 31-6 in the final three quarters.
This was Marino’s best chance to win the Super Bowl. He should’ve capped off his MVP season with a title.
2. Peyton Manning (2013)
Peyton Manning had a fantastic first season with the Denver Broncos, but they failed to win a playoff game. In 2013, Manning and the Broncos were looking to finish the job.
Manning began the season with one of the best single-game performances of all time.
- 462 passing yards
- 7 touchdowns
That set the tone for a record-breaking season.
Denver began 9-1, with Manning clearing 300 yards in nine of those ten games.
He had his first down game in Week 12, losing to the New England Patriots in overtime. Manning bounced back to throw 4+ touchdowns in four of his last five games.
In the Divisional Round, the Broncos had to hold off a late rally from the San Diego Chargers to clinch a 24-17 victory. Manning had a pair of touchdown passes.
The AFC Championship Game matched Manning up with an old foe in Tom Brady.
Denver held a 23-3 lead early in the fourth quarter. Brady tried to lead a comeback, but they were too far back. The Broncos won behind another big performance from Manning.
- 400 passing yards
- 2 touchdowns
The Super Bowl was a matchup between the Broncos number one offense and the Seattle Seahawks number one defense. It had so much hype but immediately came crashing down.
Seattle dominated the game, winning 43-8 in one of the worst Super Bowls of all time.
Manning had 280 yards but three turnovers.
He did win his second Super Bowl two years later, but that was because of Denver’s defense. The 2013 season was his Super Bowl to win.
1. Tom Brady (2007)
Is there anyone else it could’ve been? Tom Brady and the New England Patriots had arguably the greatest season in NFL history. There was just one thing missing.
Nobody held a candle to the Patriots offense in the first half of the season. They scored 34+ points in their first eight games. Their closest game in that stretch was a 21-point victory over the Cleveland Browns.
Brady also passed for 3+ touchdowns in all eight games.
New England had a few close games in the second half of the season. However, Brady was always there to save them.
The Patriots became the first team in NFL history to finish the season 16-0. They did so thanks to a record-setting year from Brady.
- 68.9 completion percentage
- 4,806 passing yards
- 50 touchdowns
- 8 interceptions
- 117.2 passer rating
- 87.0 QBR
At the time, his 50 passing touchdowns were an NFL record.
New England went into the playoffs as a massive (-400) favorite to win the Super Bowl.
The Jacksonville Jaguars hung with them in the Divisional Round, but New England pulled away in the second half. Brady passed for 262 yards and three touchdowns.
In the AFC Championship Game, the San Diego Chargers put up a good fight, but Brady’s fourth-quarter touchdown put the game out of reach. It was an impressive performance from Phillip Rivers as he played through a torn ACL.
Eli Manning led the game-winning touchdown drive to deny the Patriots perfect season.
There’s no doubt Brady’s season was one of the best ever for an MVP. Unfortunately, he fell short of the ultimate prize.
Other MVPs That Fell Short of the Super Bowl
- Cam Newton (2015)
- Matt Ryan (2016)
Both Cam Newton and Matt Ryan led their respective franchises to the Super Bowl. Newton fell victim to a dominant Denver Broncos defense.
Ryan had it within reach before the Atlanta Falcons blew a 28-3 lead.
Kurt Warner in 1999 is the last MVP to win the Super Bowl. Multiple players have come close but ultimately came up short.
A few of these teams had a great offense but terrible defense. That’s a big tell that it might not be worth it to bet on that team. Make sure the defense is at least mid-pack.
If you’d like more information on betting on the NFL, make sure you check out our NFL betting guide.