The National Football League has entertained the process of selecting a most valuable player every season since 1957.
The first two years the award was presented to the same player, running back Jim Brown of the Cleveland Browns. After that a noticeable trend developed that continues to this day.
Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas was MVP in 1959. Philadelphia Eagles QB Norm Van Brocklin carted off the award in 1960.
By 1970, nine of the first 14 winners of the NFL MVP, or 64.28 percent, were all quarterbacks. The men under center were clearly the NFL’s center of attention.
That’s a fact of life that not only continues to this day, it’s grown to be an even stronger, more consistent pattern.
QB Is The One
The last six winners of the NFL MVP were all quarterbacks. Since 2001, 16 of 19 MVP winners played the position. That means 84.21 percent of the last 19 players recognized as MVP of the NFL were passers.
You can see how the trend is growing stronger.
Taking into account ties for the award in 1997 between Green Bay Packers QB Brett Favre and Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders, and in 2003 between Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning and Tennessee Titans QB Steve McNair, 43 of the 64 players to win the NFL MVP played the quarterback position. That’s 67.18 percent of winners.
The edge has continually swung toward the quarterback. Just 14 of the first 24 winners were QBs (58.33 percent). Thirteen of the next 20 played QB (65 percent). And of the last 20 winners, 16 took the snap from the center (80 percent).
In other words, nearly seven out of every 10 MVPs are quarterbacks. And in the last two decades, it’s almost up to nine out of 10.
betting on the NFL MVP: An Obvious Pattern
When betting on the NFL MVP, QB is the one position where you should place all of your focus. It’s a virtual certainty that a quarterback will be selected most valuable player this season, next season and for many seasons into the future.
It requires an other-worldly performance by a player at another position to usurp the MVP from the QB community. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was the last non-quarterback to be voted the NFL MVP award back in 2012.
All Peterson was required to do to end the run of QB success was gain 2,097 yards on the ground. That’s the second-highest single-season rushing performance in NFL history and was just eight yards shy of equaling Eric Dickerson’s 1984 NFL record.
Sometimes, even that isn’t enough to win the day.
In 2003, Baltimore Ravens running back Jamal Lewis rambled for 2,066 yards rushing. That puts him No. 3 on the NFL all-time single-season list. Yet when the ballots were cast for NFL MVP that season, Lewis wasn’t enough worthy of runner-up status.
That was the year that Manning and McNair tied, each garnering 16 votes. New England Patriots QB Tom Brady finished third with eight votes. Lewis finished fourth in the voting, his name being cast on just five ballots.
Other Positions To Win
Running back runs second to quarterbacks in NFL MVP honors, albeit a distant second. Eighteen times a ball carrier has carried off the MVP award. It’s happened four times since 2000 – Peterson, LaDanian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers in 2006 – he set an NFL record with 31 touchdowns that season – Shaun Alexander of the Seattle Seahawks in 2005 and Marshall Faulk of the St. Louis Rams in 2000.
Amazingly, no other offensive position has produced an NFL MVP. A wide receiver has never won the award. Jerry Rice came the closest. The San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame wideout finished second with 30 votes in 1987. Denver Broncos QB John Elway won the award, garnering 36 votes.
Rice also finished runner-up in 1995, as did Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Otis Taylor in 1971. In those instances, however, they were distant seconds.
Randy Moss of the Minnesota Vikings, who finished third in the 1998 MVP balloting, was the last wide receiver to garner an MVP vote. Since that year, seven defensive players have received an MVP vote. Houston Texans defensive tackle J.J. Watt was runner-up in the 2014 NFL MVP voting.
Two defensive players – New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor in 1986 and Vikings defensive tackle Alan Page in 1971, were named NFL MVP. Also, in 1982, Washington Redskins kicker Mark Moseley was voted MVP of the league.
In four of the last six seasons, quarterbacks finished 1-2 in the NFL MVP voting. Historically, that’s happened on 12 occasions. Six other times, QBs ran 1-2-3 in the balloting. And once, in 2009, QBs placed 1-2-3-4.
Manning of the Colts was the winner with 39.5 votes, followed by Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints (7.5), Philip Rivers of the Chargers (2) and Favre (1).
You have to go all the way back to 1986, when Taylor won the MVP and Dickerson finished second in the voting, to find a season when a quarterback wasn’t among the top two. Dan Marino, QB of the Miami Dolphins, was third on the ballot that season.
This Year Is No Different
Entering the 2019 NFL regular season, certainly the sportsbooks are not anticipating that the QB fetish in relation to the MVP award is about to come to a sudden halt.
In fact, the top six contenders in the NFL MVP future book odds at Bet America are all quarterbacks.
Reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes, who gave the Chiefs their first MVP award in franchise when he won last season, is the +500 chalk to be the first repeat winner since Manning in 2008-09.
Andrew Luck (+800) of the Colts is the second choice, and historically, he presents an interesting option. Colts QBs have combined to win a record 8.5 MVPs – 3.5 by Manning, one by Bert Jones, one by Earl Morrall, and three by Unitas.
Aaron Rodgers (+900) of the Packers is the third betting choice. Rodgers was previously named NFL MVP in 2011 and 2014.
Carson Wentz (+1200) of the Eagles is next on the list. Wentz was third in MVP balloting in 2017.
Next among the top contenders is Brees at +1400. Amazingly, in what most certainly will be a Hall of Fame-worthy career, Brees has never been selected NFL MVP. He was second in the voting in 2018, 2011, 2009 and 2006.
Completing the top six is Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns. The 2017 Heisman Trophy winner and 2018 NFL first overall draft choice will be entering his first full season as the Browns’ starting quarterback.