Caesars Sportsbook released their MVP odds for the 2020 NFL season, and it doesn’t come as a surprise that Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes is the favorite at 4-1 ($100 bet wins $400).
But what about Mahomes’ Super Bowl counterpart, 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo?
NFL MVP Odds from Caesars 🏈
Reminder: Lamar Jackson was 200/1 before last season 📈 pic.twitter.com/c8zwof4Yc5
— PropSwap (@PropSwap) May 11, 2020
Garoppolo sits all the way down at 50-1, but a flier is enticing at those odds. Let’s break down why Jimmy G isn’t a bad longshot bet to win the 2020 NFL MVP award.
QBs always win
There’s little doubt at this point that a QB will win the award. Only one non-QB has won in the last 13 seasons, and that was Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson in 2012.
So, quarterback is the way to go if you’re making any bet. Apologies to George Kittle at 300-1.
Additionally, a first-time winner has won each of the last two seasons (Mahomes and Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson), and per ESPN Stats and Info, four of the past five winners have had 30-1 odds or longer in the preseason. Lamar Jackson was listed at 40-1 before the start of last season.
Making the leap
A QB already has won an MVP under Kyle Shanahan’s tutelage: Matt Ryan in 2017 with the Atlanta Falcons. Ryan’s numbers dramatically improved in his second full season in the offense.
Ryan’s first season under Shanahan: 4,591 yards, 21 TDs, 16 INT, 7.5 YPA, 66.3 comp pct
Ryan’s second season under Shanahan: 4,944 yards, 38 TDs, 7 INTs, 9.3 YPA, 69.9 comp pct
Now, the comparison isn’t perfect because Garoppolo has 27 starts with Shanahan under his belt entering this season. But he only has one full season starting, just like Matt Ryan prior to his MVP season.
Even Shanahan didn’t put too much stock into Jimmy’s experience before this season mattering. He also doesn’t think Jimmy has hit his ceiling.
“I expect him to continue to get better. I don’t think he’s achieved his ceiling yet,” Shanahan told Tim Kawakami of the Athletic. “Last year was his first year ever going through a full season as a quarterback. He hadn’t played longer than five games, I think, in a year prior to that.”
After hearing all offseason that he blew the Super Bowl and knowing that this could be a make-or-break year, Garoppolo should have all the motivation he needs.
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Defense, run game could falter
Now, there is definitely an argument that even at 50-1, it’s just a waste of money placing this bet.
The 49ers showed last season that they want to rely on the defense and run game to win. It got them to the Super Bowl. It was a successful recipe.
But what if the 49ers defense regresses?
The 49ers were tied for the league lead in yards per play allowed at 4.6 with the New England Patriots last season. An NFL team hasn’t led the league in that category in back-to-back years since the Broncos in 2014-16.
Nick Bosa had injury concerns in college and might not stay on the field for all 16 games this season. Dee Ford already showed he can have an injury-plagued season.
OK, so the defense regresses, but the run game is still there. However, isn’t every team going to sell out against the run to stop the Niners?
Even though Kyle Shanahan is arguably the best offensive play-caller in the league, defenses will try to make him rely on Garoppolo more than he’s used to, setting up the potential for big numbers.
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When he’s good, he’s great
Garoppolo proved last season that when he’s playing at his best, not many QBs were better.
He had three such games last season with 300-plus passing yards, 4-plus TDs with at least a 70-percent completion rate. That number led the NFL. And the Niners won all three of those games (twice against the Cardinals and once against the Saints).
Wideout Deebo Samuel’s versatility as a weapon is unmatched. Tight end George Kittle is a top offensive option in the NFL. The 49ers added Brandon Aiyuk in the first round of the draft. And they traded for 7-time Pro Bowler Trent Williams to replace Joe Staley. The offense isn’t short of playmakers.
Remember, you’re not betting on Garoppolo to win the MVP at 4-1 or even 10-1 odds. You’re betting on him at 50-1 odds.
If the defense regresses and the running game falls flat to start, Kyle Shanahan will look to his QB to win them the games. If he just does it at a more consistent rate, your 50-1 ticket will be worth having.