One of the most popular prop bets for the Super Bowl is determining who will walk away with the game’s MVP award. Every year, we see people convince themselves that a non-quarterback has a shot at taking home the hardware, and more than half the time, they’re proven wrong. In 55 Super Bowls, a quarterback has won the MVP 31 times. In the past 15 Super Bowls, a quarterback has won the award 11 times. Make no mistake, as much as you’d like to think that Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald, Ja’Marr Chase, Odell Beckham Jr., Von Miller, Jalen Ramsey, Trey Hendrickson, Tee Higgins, or Joe Mixon has a shot at the award this year, they are fighting an uphill battle against Matthew Stafford and Joe Burrow.
The Super Bowl MVP odds reflect this notion. According to OddsChecker, Stafford is being given +120 odds, implying that he has a 45.5 percent chance to win the award. Burrow has slightly worse odds at +230, implying a 30.3 percent chance for Burrow to take home the game’s MVP trophy. Then there’s an enormous drop-off. Kupp has the next-highest odds at +700 (12.5 percent chance). Then, OBJ (+1600; 5.9 percent), Chase (+2200; 4.3 percent), and Donald (+2500, 3.8 percent).
Funnily enough, of the 11 players listed with plausible Super Bowl MVP odds, only three of them are Bengals: Burrow, Chase, and Mixon. Clearly, oddsmakers are banking on a Rams’ Super Bowl win. However, as was the case when everybody picked the Chiefs to beat the Bengals in the AFC Championship Game, the Bengals are being slept on. You’re telling me that Tee Higgins, who’s last two games have seen him go for seven receptions - 96 yards and six receptions - 103 yards has less of a chance of taking home the award than Rams’ tight end Tyler Higbee (+8500, 1.2 percent chance)? That’s nuts. Throw in the fact that All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey will likely be shadowing Chase all night, and there’s a very good chance that Burrow is forced to funnel the ball to his other two receivers. Of course, Higgins would have to go absolutely ballistic in order to earn the award over Burrow, but it’s definitely possible, and in my opinion, much more likely than Higbee, who hasn’t had a single game with more than six receptions or 70 receiving yards all season long.
Of course, there’s also Trey Hendrickson, who’s not listed on odds boards at all. Cincy’s best pass rusher is arguably the best long-shot candidate of all. The former New Orleans Saint recorded at least one sack in 14 of the 19 games he played this year. Obviously, one sack won’t cut it, but if Hendrickson can add a second sack and force a fumble or two that gives the Bengals great field positioning, he could start turning some heads.
On the Rams’ side, it’s clear that the best bet outside of Stafford and Kupp is either Donald or Beckham. Ramsey could have a fantastic night on the defensive end, but unless he records two interceptions, he won’t earn the MVP award. Even if Chase is held to zero catches on the night, MVP voters likely won’t give Ramsey the award for lack of filling up stat sheets.
Let’s talk about Donald’s odds a little more though. Donald’s odds currently give him a 25-to-1 payout according to OddsChecker, meaning that a $100 bet would earn you $2500 prior to the winner’s fees. A $100 bet on Kupp would only net you $700, a much worse payout for seemingly two players who could have similar impact.
The Bengals’ offensive line currently ranks 31st in the NFL in adjusted sack rate (9.1 percent). No quarterback has been sacked more times this year than Joe Burrow (51). Burrow was also pressured on 24.5 percent of his dropbacks this year — the 13th-highest rate in the NFL. The last time a team reached the Super Bowl while recording an adjusted sack rate over nine percent was in 2014. The Seattle Seahawks offensive line recorded an adjusted sack rate of 9.6 percent that season. What’s crazy is that the Broncos’ defense, which was middle of the pack in terms of sack rate that season (6.3 percent; 17th in NFL) couldn’t manage a single sack on Wilson all game.
To be fair, the Broncos didn’t have a generational pass-rushing talent on that team. Sure, Shaun Phillips recorded 10 sacks on the season, but he was also 32 years old and definitely was not an elite pass rusher that year. Aaron Donald is much scarier than Phillips. Furthermore, Donald most commonly lines up between the A and B gaps against opposing offensive lines. Cincinnati’s starting left guard Quinton Spain, starting center Trey Hopkins, and starting right guard Hakeem Adeniji each posted PFF pass blocking grades of less than 60 and surrendered five, four, and three sacks respectively. In other words,Donald could have an absolute feast if the Bengals do not properly prepare for him.
All in all, if you’re looking for some bang for your buck, the best players to bet on would be any Cincinnati Bengals. Despite the Rams opening as just three-point favorites, oddsmakers are clearly favoring the home team Rams. If you’re absolutely opposed to betting on either quarterback to win the award (AKA the safest options), Tee Higgins would probably be the best bang for your buck option. At the same time, if you believe the Rams are going to win, Aaron Donald would, in my opinion, be the best high-yield option available.
Keep in mind though, as I said at the start of this article, the Super Bowl MVP Award is a quarterback’s award. If you’re trying to make money, the best option would be to bet on Stafford or Burrow. It will always be to bet on either team’s quarterback. However, if you’re five beers deep and looking for an all-or-nothing option to root for next Sunday, by all means, go for broke.