For the last two seasons, we've watched a second-year quarterback take the league by storm en route to an easy MVP win. Patrick Mahomes earned the award in 2018 before his top-seeded Chiefs fell short of the Super Bowl by losing to the Patriots. Lamar Jackson was named unanimous MVP last year but couldn't break through in the playoffs as his top-seeded Ravens lost to the Titans.
Will the pattern of AFC quarterbacks earning MVP honors then losing in the playoffs continue? Or could the second-year breakthrough quarterback scenario play itself out again with Cardinals signal-caller Kyler Murray? Our staffers dug through the 2020 NFL MVP odds over at William Hill Sportsbook, and somewhat surprisingly, no one cast their lot with Murray at 20-to-1. No one went with Mahomes as the favorite either, and only one person backed Jackson to repeat.
So who did we pick? The most popular selection is a franchise quarterback forced to play this season on the franchise tag, as five of us are backing Cowboys star Dak Prescott. "The one thing about Dak is that despite playing in the Cowboys' run-happy offense last season, he still finished with the second-most passing yards in the NFL and the fourth-most touchdown passes," writer John Breech said.
The next most popular pick for MVP is someone who shockingly has never earned even a single MVP vote in his career: Seahawks star Russell Wilson. "Russell Wilson has 100 TDs to just 23 INTs over the last three years, with the second-best QB rating in the NFL in that span, doing Herculean work often without that much help," NFL insider Jason La Canfora said. "And yet no MVP votes. Problem is, the word is out and the voters know it."
You can find all of our MVP best bets below, including two staffers grabbing a 66-to-1 longshot. Then, we share our one other award best bet on the board at William Hill, with multiple names earning a vote for Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Comebacker Player of the Year.
Here's the rundown on the staff members making these picks: NFL insider Jason La Canfora; senior writer Pete Prisco; Pick Six Podcast host Will Brinson; staff writers Cody Benjamin, John Breech, Jordan Dajani, Bryan DeArdo, Jared Dubin, Josh Edwards, Jeff Kerr, Tyler Sullivan, Chris Trapasso, Patrik Walker and Ryan Wilson; and editors Brett Anderson, Dan Schneier and R.J. White.
Key MVP odds
Patrick Mahomes +350
Lamar Jackson +600
Russell Wilson +800
Deshaun Watson +1400
Dak Prescott +1500
Tom Brady +1600
Drew Brees +1800
Kyler Murray +2000
Carson Wentz +2500
Aaron Rodgers +2500
Saquon Barkley +3000
Cam Newton +3000
Matt Ryan +3300
Jimmy Garoppolo +3300
Derrick Henry +4000
Christian McCaffrey +4000
Josh Allen +4000
Philip Rivers +5000
Jarrett Stidham +5000
Ben Roethlisberger +5000
Ezekiel Elliott +5000
Baker Mayfield +5000
MVP best bets
Lamar Jackson +600
Schneier: The Ravens have the fourth-easiest schedule, Marquise Brown is now fully healthy, they added a perfect fit for their run-blocking scheme in J.K. Dobbins, and Lamar Jackson is entering year two in this offensive system -- yes, he can be even more dominant in 2020.
Russell Wilson +800
Dajani: Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes got their MVP awards, it's about time Russell Wilson got his. He will be the most consistent quarterback this season, and finally get not just one MVP vote, but the most MVP votes.
DeArdo: Wilson was in the conversation to win MVP honors last season after throwing 31 touchdowns (against just five picks) and leading the Seahawks to an 11-5 record. Wilson should be able to have similar success in 2020, as long as Seattle can avoid the injury bug that prevented them from reaching greater heights in 2019.
La Canfora: Russell Wilson has 100 TDs (15 more than anyone else) to just 23 INTs (tied with Tom Brady with a 1.5 INT%) over the last three years, with the second-best QB rating in the NFL in that span, doing Herculean work often without that much help. And yet no MVP votes. Problem is, the word is out and the voters know it. Could Mahomes get hurt again? Is Lamar durable enough to do that all over again? Perhaps, but Wilson has some playmakers around him. His time is now, finally.
Wilson: Is there a player more important to their team than Russell Wilson? The Chiefs won games without Patrick Mahomes, the Steelers went 8-8 without Ben Roethlisberger but we can't imagine what the Seahawks offense would look like if Wilson was sidelined for any amount of time. When he's on, he can carry this team all the way to a division title and a deep playoff run.
Dak Prescott +1500
Breech: After not getting a long-term deal done with the Cowboys, I think Dak will be playing with a chip on his shoulder the entire season, which is bad news for Jerry Jones, because he's going to get stuck paying him Patrick Mahomes type money after Dak wins MVP and leads the Cowboys to the Super Bowl. The one thing about Dak is that despite playing in the Cowboys' run-happy offense last season, he still finished with the second-most passing yards in the NFL and the fourth-most touchdown passes. He also plays for America's team, which is notable, because it almost automatically puts you in the MVP conversation as long as you finish above .500 and I absolutely think the Cowboys are going to finish above .500.
Dubin: I really do not like picking a player from my own favorite team for something like this, but I'm not actually picking Prescott to win MVP. I'm just saying he has good odds. I'll be picking Mahomes to win the actual award for the foreseeable future, but betting it at +350 seems like not enough payoff for the potential risk of something like last season's knee injury occurring.
Trapasso: With the weapons Prescott has in Dallas, the momentum -- see: his reputation -- he'll carry into this season and the Cowboys winning the division will lead to Prescott earning MVP honors, and he represents the fifth-best odds right now.
Walker: One reason the Cowboys look good to cause trouble in the NFC en route to Super Bowl LV is Dak Prescott, who is once again tasked with proving his worth in a contract year, but this time tethered to Mike McCarthy and an offense that looks even more dominant than the one he had a career-best season with in 2019. You can't cover everyone, and that's the Cowboys' mantra for 2020, as Prescott follows in the footsteps of Mahomes and Lamar Jackson in proving he's the next big thing in the NFL.
White: If you're asking me who the favorite is to win MVP, I'd have to take Patrick Mahomes, but I can't bet on anyone to win this award with odds as low as +350. Dak Prescott has the best receiver trio in the league and incentive to rack up stats as he tries to land a new contract, and he should only get better with Mike McCarthy taking over for Jason Garrett.
Tom Brady +1600
Benjamin: Old Man River wasn't the prettiest QB in his final Patriots season, but wouldn't it be prototypical Tom Brady to go out and win MVP, proving the doubters wrong once again? The best thing he has going for him is his supporting cast. Between Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette and a do-or-die coach in Bruce Arians, TB12 will be back in business.
Sullivan: The weapons around Tom Brady and the offense that Bruce Arians is constructing should result in him putting up some insane stat lines this season. The Bucs competing as one of the top teams in the NFC will also help his chances.
Drew Brees +1800
Edwards: Brees is customarily a bridesmaid but never a bride when it comes to the league's MVP honor. He has routinely finished runner-up to the likes of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers. Voter fatigue is very real and it may require huge seasons from Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson to win again so soon. The upcoming season could very well mark the last for Brees and it would not be a surprise if voters wanted to do right by him and send him off into the sunset with a shiny new trophy. It does not hurt that New Orleans should be good.
Aaron Rodgers +2500
Prisco: I get Rodgers at +2500? That has to be a misprint. It isn't. The Packers went to the NFC Championship Game a year ago, and Rodgers threw 26 touchdown passes and four picks. Not great by his standards, but I think those numbers will be more like 33 touchdown passes and six picks this season. The Packers will also be good again. Oh, and it's +2500.
Carson Wentz +2500
Kerr: Wentz threw for 4,000 yards with three players that were on the Eagles' practice squad earlier in the 2019 season to lead the team to the division title. Now he has Miles Sanders as his No.1 running back, a healthy DeSean Jackson, Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert and Jalen Reagor as his top pass-catching options. The NFL may see the 2017 version of Wentz this year.
Matthew Stafford +6600
Anderson: Stafford played exactly half the season in 2019 before getting injured and was on pace for 5,000 yards, 38 TDs and 10 INTs. He's got a cannon, and Darrell Bevell has him throwing downfield. A Stafford MVP depends on two things: health, and if the Lions can put up some Ws. At 66-to-1, it's worth a shot.
Brinson: I'm sort of all in on the Lions this year, which feels like it could potentially backfire! But look at Stafford's numbers from last season, his first under Darrell Bevell, and project them over 16 games. If the Lions can win 10 games and the NFC North with him going nuts, he will get legitimate consideration.
Offensive Rookie of the Year best bets
Joe Burrow +225
Breech: Just remember, Burrow's team doesn't have to be great for him to win this award. Kyler Murray won OROY last season on a five-win Cardinals team, so if Burrow can will the Bengals to at least six wins, I think he walks away with this award.
Schneier: Burrow seems like an easy OROY play given that he'll be starting all 16 games, the Bengals will have a much-improved supporting cast around him, and they'll be playing from behind often (which will pad his stats).
Jonathan Taylor +1200
Trapasso: Did you see what Taylor did in the Big Ten over the past three seasons behind one of the better offensive lines in the conference? He does have Marlon Mack to contend with, but the Colts boast an elite blocking unit, and Taylor is a big, powerful, elusive and fast runner.
Gabriel Davis +8000
Wilson: Bills fourth-round rookie Gabriel Davis drew rave reviews from teammates during training camp, and while Offensive Rookie of the Year is usually reserved for running backs, if Davis can continue during the season what he started in August practices, he could quickly become a favorite target of Josh Allen.
Defensive Rookie of the Year best bets
Patrick Queen +1100
Dubin: I think Queen is going to rack up a ton of tackles in Baltimore's defense, and if Chase Young ends the year with "merely" seven or eight sacks on what I expect to be a really bad Washington Football Team, that could swing enough votes in Queen's direction that he ends up with the hardware by virtue of excelling in the middle of one of the league's best defenses.
Walker: Patrick Queen couldn't find himself in a better situation than the one in Baltimore. They need him desperately, and his skill set is one that translates effectively to the professional ranks. He should run away with DROTY honors, even if it's a close race at the midway point.
White: The Ravens don't have any clear DPOY candidates, but there will be a push to give them some type of recognition if they play as well as they did on defense last year. I believe Patrick Queen will have a boatload of tackles in the middle of that defense, so if no one posts absurd sack or interception numbers as a rookie, he's a great value to land the DROY award.
Javon Kinlaw +2500
La Canfora: Kinlaw was one of my favorite players in the draft. He joins a dominant defensive line and slides into a spot where DeForest Buckner shined. He can be a beast and rack up sacks in the interior with so many others you need to block. Great scheme fit. Yeah, defensive tackles tend to get overlooked, but don't sleep on this kid for that much value.
Defensive Player of the Year best bets
T.J. Watt +1600
Benjamin: Watt is just as underrated as his Steelers entering 2020. He's already been dominant for more than a year, but something like 17-20 sacks seems well within reach.
Edwards: Watt was a strong candidate to win the award this past season but Pittsburgh struggled as a team. With Ben Roethlisberger back in the fold, the Steelers should be much improved. After watching Myles Garrett and Joey Bosa get massive contracts, Watt will be motivated to put himself in a similar situation next offseason on a team built to contend.
Chandler Jones +1600
Kerr: Jones hasn't received the praise he deserves over the last few years, largely due to the Cardinals record and how poor their defense has actually been. The man deserves his due for leading the NFL with 60 sacks and finishing second to only Aaron Donald in quarterback hits (98) and tackles for loss (67) over the past four seasons. Jones finished with 19 sacks and led the league with eight forced fumbles on a defense that ended up dead last in yards allowed. What will he do with an improved defensive line and linebackers in 2020, a year which Arizona should have its best season since its NFC Championship Game appearance in 2015? More eyes will be on Jones, as the NFL world will get to see how good he really is.
Von Miller +2500
Prisco: Miller had a down year by his standards with just 8.5 sacks. But he didn't have Bradley Chubb most of the year, and the offense wasn't as dynamic as it will be this year. The Broncos will score more points, which means more pass-rush chances for Miller. His odds are crazy at +2500 as well. Give me two veterans with those odds and I will take it every day.
Comeback Player of the Year best bets
Ben Roethlisberger +400
DeArdo: Roethlisberger, who missed most of the 2019 season, says that he feels better than he has in over a decade after losing weight and undergoing elbow surgery last fall. Pittsburgh has also added several pieces to its offense in receiver Chase Claypool and tight end Eric Ebron.
Alex Smith +450
Dajani: Alex Smith should absolutely be the favorite for this award. His leg injury almost cost him his life, yet he worked his way back and is taking snaps under center once again for Washington. I don't expect him to compete for the starting job, but even if he does, that will just help my case. It's incredible that he's back in the league.
Sullivan: Alex Smith not being the favorite to win Comeback Player of the Year at this point seems silly to me. The stage is set for him to lock up this award just by playing a single snap at some point this season.
Trent Williams +5000
Brinson: Williams didn't just come back from serious injury; he also came back from a literal WTF situation. He will be the best left tackle in the league this year, the 49ers will dominate and I get to keep my OL award prediction streak alive.