Super Bowl LV MVP Betting: Favorites, Longshots & Best Bets
Last year Patrick Mahomes became the 30th quarterback to be named Most Valuable Player in the Super Bowl when he accounted for three touchdowns in a come-from-behind victory against the San Francisco 49ers. Unsurprisingly, Mahomes is favored to win the award again ahead of Super Bowl LV, while Tom Brady, who has the record for most Super Bowl MVPs (4), is a close second. Recent history, however, tells us quarterbacks aren’t necessarily a shoo-in for the complimentary trip to Disney World. So is there value elsewhere when betting the Most Valuable Player at online sportsbooks?
Let’s look at who votes for the Super Bowl MVP, past winners, and trends before making our bets.
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Super Bowl MVP Voting Explained
A panel of 16 media members, consisting of broadcasters and writers, who typically cast their votes with roughly five minutes left in the game make up 80 percent of the vote. The other 20 percent is voted on by viewers watching the game.
Super Bowl viewers began taking part in 2001 when the NFL opened up electronic voting to fans. The fact that people just like you and me have a say in which player receives four MVP votes is certainly something worth considering when perusing candidates and odds at sportsbooks.
Past Super Bowl MVP Winners
Super Bowl MVP Betting Trends & Notes
To no one’s surprise, voters send quarterbacks to Orlando, Fla., more than half of the time. However, receivers and defensive players have begun to win the post-Super Bowl vacation a bit more recently. Check out the positional breakdown of Super Bowl MVPs below.
SB MVP Winners By Position (1967-Present)
Quarterback: 30 (55.5%)
Wide Receiver: 7 (12.96%)
Running Back: 7 (12.96%)
Linebacker: 4 (7.4%)
Cornerback: 2 (3.7%)
Defensive End: 2 (3.7%)
Defensive Tackle: 1 (1.85%)
Safety: 1 (1.85%)
Kick Returner: 1 (1.85%)
Receivers Catching More SB MVPs Since 2005
Only seven times has the Super Bowl MVP been a wide receiver, but four of those winners have come in the last 15 years. This trend isn’t too surprising, as the NFL has become increasingly more pass-heavy during that span.
To see what kind of numbers receivers need to post to win, here are Super Bowl stats from the four most recent examples, along with stats of their quarterback.
Julian Edelman (Super Bowl LIII, Patriots 13-3)
QB’s Stats: 21/35, 262 Yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT (Brady)
Santonio Holmes (Super Bowl XLIII, Steelers 27-23)
QB’s Stats: 21/30, 265 Yards, 1 TD, 1 INT (Roethlisberger)
Hines Ward (Super Bowl XL, Patriots 21-10)
QB’s Stats: 9/21, 123 Yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs (Roethlisberger)
*Note: Antwaan Randle El threw the Steelers’ only touchdown pass.
Deion Branch (Super Bowl XXIX, Patriots 23-21)
QB’s Stats: 23/33, 236 Yards, 2 TDs (Brady)
Those are the winners, but what about big-time receiving performances that didn’t earn the recognition?
Last year, Tyreek Hill had nine receptions and 105 yards but couldn’t find paydirt. In Super Bowl XLIX, Edelman gained 109 yards on nine receptions and scored a touchdown, yet voters sided with Brady’s four-touchdown performance (plus two interceptions). Similarly, Joe Flacco received the benefit of the doubt over his receiver Anquan Boldin in 2013. Flacco didn’t eclipse 300 yards, but he did throw three touchdowns with zero turnovers. The previous year, in Super Bowl XLVI, Eli Manning passed for 296 yards and only one touchdown but beat Hakeem Nicks, who had ten receptions and 109 yards. Of all the receivers who had big games ultimately played sidekick to their quarterback, Jordy Nelson might have had the best MVP case in 2011. Nelson turned nine receptions into 140 yards and a score against the Steelers, but it was 304 yards and three touchdown passes from Aaron Rodgers that won over voters.
When a receiver has a performance worthy of MVP consideration, their quarterback usually has a big game, too. And though not impossible, it’s often too difficult for receivers to overcome voters’ bias for their quarterbacks. The four recent exceptions have come when their quarterback throws at least one interception and no more than 265 yards. Additionally, the “under” (for total points scored) hit three of those four games.
MVPs Come From Super Bowl Winning Teams
You have to go back 50 years to find a Super Bowl MVP from a losing team. No one since Dallas Cowboys’ linebacker Chuck Howley in Super Bowl V has clinched the award while watching the other team lift the Lombardi Trophy.
Bake into each player’s odds of winning MVP are their team’s odds of winning the actual game, so there’s not a massive edge in fading one group of players over the other. Still, as someone who is quite confident in the Chiefs, I’m mostly avoiding betting on any Buccaneers (though I reserve the right to make an exception or two).
Terrell Davis Was Last Running Back to Win
That’s right. The last running back to be named Super Bowl MVP was the Denver Broncos’ Terrell Davis. Two other backs, Emmitt Smith and Ottis Anderson, won it in the 90s, but the other four running back winners, one of whom was technically fullback, all predated 1985.
For a second, NFL bettors thought the running back cold streak might come to an end last February when Chiefs’ running back Damien Williams sprinted for 133 total yards, a rushing touchdown, and a receiving touchdown, as he snagged four receptions in Super Bowl LIV. Not even that could keep it from Mahomes, who threw two interceptions and didn’t reach the 300-yard passing mark against the 49ers. Rushing for 30 yards and a touchdown himself while having several legs-up on Williams in the popularity contest likely sealed the deal for the Mahomes, whose brand was at an all-time high one week after winning the 2019 NFL MVP award.
With all that said, here’s how I’ll approach Most Valuable Player odds for Super Bowl LV.
Super Bowl LV MVP Fades
Best Odds: +100 at BetMGM
Implied Probability: 50%
Look, odds are Patrick Mahomes becomes the first back-to-back MVP winner since Terry Bradshaw in Super Bowl XIII and XIV. Before Bradshaw, Bart Starr won the first two awards. Not even Brady, the all-time Super Bowl MVP leader (4), has taken Gisele and his kids to Disney World in consecutive years.
Mahomes is the best quarterback in football, quarterbacking the team favored to win the Super Bowl. What’s not to love about betting on him to win MVP, then?
It’s precisely my bullishness for the Chiefs that makes this a no-go. In the event of a Chiefs victory and a non-Mahome MVP, I’d much rather save myself the regret by betting on the Chiefs moneyline (currently -163 at FOXBet) or spread (Chiefs -3). For me, it’s not even close. I have my eyes on a couple of other Chiefs players to win Super Bowl MVP, including two longshots, in case voter fatigue does play a factor.
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Best Odds: +1400 at FanDuel Sportsbook
Implied Probability: 6.7%
One player whom I don’t have my eye on is Tyreek Hill. After torching the Buccaneers for three touchdowns, 269 yards and 13 receptions in Week 12, bettors are understandably looking for a nice payout via Hill’s sticky hands and explosiveness. Hill isn’t just a mismatch for the Bucs; he caught passes for 110 and 172 yards, respectively, in the playoff games against the Browns and Bills. Usually, players with Hill’s ceiling are exactly the kind of non-QBs I want to take a shot on with these types of bets.
However, when it comes to #11, I’m here to tell you: Bet on Hill at your own risk.
This award is somewhat of a popularity contest, as I previously mentioned. I love using Hill for daily fantasy, but I’m skeptical media members will be as quick to cast their votes for Hill, who brings with him plenty of baggage, as I am to put him in my NFL DFS lineups
Maybe another 260-yard performance can prove me wrong. Maybe they name the controversial receiver MVP but ask Mahomes or Kelce “You just won the Super Bowl. What are you going to do next?” It wouldn’t be unheard of — Trent Dilfer answered the question after Ray Lewis was named MVP in Super Bowl XXXV.
A possibility, indeed. Just not one I’ll be betting.
Best Odds: +210 at Unibet
Implied Probability: 32.3%
I don’t like the Buccaneers’ chances of upsetting the Chiefs, but it wouldn’t be the first time Brady has proven me wrong. Some of the same reasons I’m fading Mahomes apply to the Bucs quarterback just as well.
Mainly, I’d rather bet on the spread (Bucs +3.5) at BetMGM
than get greedy on a Brady MVP bet. By betting the spread, you can still win if the Bucs lose, whereas there’s no way Brady cashes MVP tickets without Tampa Bay winning outright, in which case, I’d prefer betting the Buccaneers moneyline (+150).
I see few ways Tampa Bay can upset Kansas City, none of which involve Brady outdueling Mahomes in a shootout. If the Bucs knock the Chiefs off their thrown, it’ll be through a few game-changing plays on defense and a steady running game instead.
Super Bowl MVP Best Bets
Travis Kelce +1500
Best Odds: +1500 at FanDuel Sportsbook
Implied Probability: 6.3%
No tight end has ever won Most Valuable Player during the Super Bowl. In fact, only three tight ends have eclipsed 100 yards on the sport’s biggest stage.
Lucky for us, Travis Kelce isn’t like most tight ends.
Breaking the single-season receiving yards record for tight ends set by George Kittle, Kelce nearly became the first tight end in NFL history to lead the league in receiving yards. His 1,416 yards during the regular season were 119 short of wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Keep in mind, Kelce didn’t play in Week 17 while Diggs added 76.
That’s neither here nor there. The point is, Kelce has a realistic chance of making history this Super Bowl if he has another multi-touchdown game with double-digit receptions and 100-plus yards, as he did in the AFC Championship.
It’s always an uphill battle for pass-catchers to beat their passers, but if things are close, Kelce might pull at some heartstrings after winning the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year fan challenge for his positive impact on the Kansas City Community. Kelce is also a finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which is given annually to an NFL player who is an outstanding community leader.
Is Travis Kelce Super Bowl parade speech better than his brother Jason Kelce’s 🤔🤔🤔
SportsCenter</a>)<a href="https://t.co/n3lksO5QP3">pic.twitter.com/n3lksO5QP3</a></p>— Sports Illustrated (SInow) February 5, 2020
I can only imagine how enthusiastic a Kelce MVP speech would be. And at 15-to-1 odds, it’s something worth betting.
Longshots to Win SB LV Most Valuable Player
Mecole Hardman +20000
Best Odds: +20000 at FOX Bet
Implied Probability: 0.5%
This is one of my favorite MVP bets on the board, and +20000 at FOXBet won’t last long. But If you’re unfamiliar with Hardman and look solely at the snap counts for Chiefs’ receivers, you probably don’t see much difference in betting Hardman to win Super BowlMVP and throwing money away.
Despite WR Sammy Watkins being invactive in the playoffs, there have been times when Hardman doesn’t even appear to be the Chiefs’ no. receiving option, as Demarcus Robinson played more snaps than Hardman in both the playoff games up to this point. Even Byron Pringle played more than Hardman against the Bills. Neither Pringle nor Robinson are close to the caliber of weapon on offense that Hardman is. Though the snaps might say otherwise, it’s clear Mahomes and head coach Andy Reid know this, too.
Superior run blockers, Pringle and Robinson are often on the field to do just that. Meanwhile, when Hardman is in the game, he’s in there to break big play — possibly game-changing— and not just through the air. Hardman, who rivals Hill when it comes to speed, caught a pass for 42 yards in the Divisional Round before sweeping across the backfield in the AFC Championship and rushing for a gain of 50 yards.
In his rookie season, Hardman caught touchdowns on plays of 21, 30, 42, 48, 63, and 83 yards. Also a return man, Hardman added a 104-yard touchdown on special teams.
This year Hardman didn’t find the end zone quite as much as he did during his rookie campaign, but Mahomes still connected with the second-year receiver in the end zone four times, the longest of which was a 49-yard touchdown. Hardman made it two seasons in a row with a special teams touchdown, this time with a 67-yard punt return.
On two different occasions, Mahomes targeted Hardman nine times over the span of four quarters, most recently against the Saints in Week 15, a game that at the time carried playoff implications.
If snaps are what you’re worried about, take solace knowing the best way to attack the Bucs is through the air. With the Bucs secondary focused on trying their best to contain Kelce and Hill, Hardman should have an opportunity or two to blow the top off the lid. If he doesn’t get quite as many looks as we’d hope, we aren’t drawing dead; Hardman still has paths to touchdowns as a dangerous return man.
If you’re in Colorado, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Michigan you’ll want to sign up at FOX Bet on this +20000 (yes, 200-to-1!) longshot. As of Friday, Jan. 29, This same bet is as short as +2500 at BetMGM and +5000 at DraftKings. I like Hardman to win MVP down to +10000, which is the price at FanDuel Sportsbook if you’re in Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and West Virginia.
Image Credit: Imagn