The MVP market is a mess these days, resembling golf outright winners in the sense you only really get decent odds on a handful of guys, with the sportsbooks having squished most of the numbers down after being torched by Patrick Mahomes (75-1 at one point in 2018) and Lamar Jackson (60-1ish in 2019) before Aaron Rodgers double dipped on them. Thank goodness for a Tyreek Hill-less Patrick Mahomes coming in as chalk last year I suppose. 

Currently five different players have odds under 15-1 to win MVP and a whopping 11 players have odds of 25-1 or lower, literally more than a third of the starting quarterbacks in the NFL. Geno Smith (35-1), Derek Carr (40-1), Jared Goff (40-1) and Deshaun Watson (40-1) follow that group -- I hope you know what kind of season those guys would need to garner votes from the 50 MVP voters before you bet on them to win the award. 

Justin Fields -- an extremely athletic quarterback for the team that finished with the worst record in the league -- is 25-1 to win MVP. That is just flat-out dumb and completely unbettable even if you believe in Fields. Trey Lance is 40-1 and Brock Purdy is 45-1 ... and they play for the same team. 

So here's how we're going to break this down: I'm going to pick a bet from the 25-1 or better range, a bet from the 50-1 or better range and a bet from the ends of the earth range. These are not great numbers and this is not a great market but it's the most popular award to bet on so let's try and find some value. 

Best top bet: Trevor Lawrence (16-1)

This came down to Lawrence versus Lamar Jackson (14-1) and Lawrence won out because of the classic John Breech stat (do you listen to the Pick Six Podcast, you should!) about the MVP coming from a division winner. Jackson in a Todd Monken offense is really, really intriguing -- credit Greg Roman for producing 2019 unanimous MVP Jackson (he's won before, voter comfort is real) but he was a lot more spicy at 25-1 or so before his contract got done. He's in a really tough division with a Bengals team on the rise, a sleeper Steelers squad and a Browns team that could be good. 

Lawrence should win his division and could take a massive step forward this season in his second year with Doug Pederson. There's a strong narrative here too with Urban Meyer having wrecked the 2021 Jaguars and Doug P flipping the script; Lawrence was a massively heralded prospect coming out of Clemson and voters would have no problem leaning his way if Jacksonville won 12-plus games. Calvin Ridley is a big old pile of gravy on this Northern Florida biscuit. 

Best midrange option: Matthew Stafford (50-1)

If you want a different option, Russell Wilson (45-1) could be your cup of tea but two problems exist in Denver. One, I think Sean Payton will be given the lion's share of credit if Russ succeeds after stinking the joint up last year and two ... division winner. Even if the Broncos are really good they could finish behind the Chiefs in the AFC West. Russ could be good and Denver could finish third! 

On the other hand, Stafford is a former Super Bowl-winning quarterback (just two years ago, FYI) who threw for 41 touchdowns and nearly 4,900 yards. Vegas HATES the Rams this year -- their win total is 6.5 and they're an NFC West long shot -- but there's certainly a path to Los Angeles being better than people expect. Sean McVay's first losing season was last year, again, after he won the Super Bowl. No one thinks he fixes this offense???

If he does and the offensive line plays even average and the Rams get 17 games out of Cooper Kupp and Stafford with a decent run game, they really just need the Seahawks to regress a touch and the 49ers QB situation to be a disaster. Steal the division, put up big numbers and create a narrative about the Rams winning because of the offense post Jalen Ramsey trade (yes, everyone knows Aaron Donald exists, don't worry he'll be featured later in this prediction series).

Best long shot: Sam Darnold (100-1)

I can hear you laughing, OK? You don't need to laugh that loudly, though, because of everyone north of 100-1 Darnold looks like the best option to me. The last time a non-quarterback won the MVP award was 2012 -- when Adrian Peterson stole the award from Peyton Manning -- and the last time before that was 2006, when LaDainian Tomlinson correctly won the award. Sure that year may have a "20" in front of it but it might as well be B.C. in terms of how the NFL operates relative to awards. This is the professional Heisman now and it's essentially "the best quarterback award" or "the award for the quarterback on the best team" if there isn't a clear-cut candidate. Ignore all Cooper Kupp and Jonathan Taylor and Derrick Henry talk in the last few years, it's just people being bored. If you MUST diversify your positional bonds, Christian McCaffrey would be acceptable on the basis of the 49ers being bad at quarterback and a full season with CMC and Kyle Shanahan carrying the load for the Niners. 

However, I'd rather dabble on Darnold here at this long price. As mentioned above, both Lance and Purdy are in the 40-1 range, meaning they aren't exactly favorites to win the award and no one is 100 percent sure what happens with the Niners at quarterback. And yet San Francisco is the second favorite to win the NFC, because the roster is freaking loaded. The only question is at the most important position in all of sports! 

So what happens if Darnold, a high-pedigree college quarterback taken with a top-five pick by the Jets, manages to perfectly play the role of point guard in Shanahan's offense behind a good offensive line, distributing the ball well to guys like Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle and the aforementioned CMC? This offense doesn't require someone to make every single throw. It requires someone to correctly distribute the ball at the correct time and place and we have seen a lot of surprising quarterbacks thrive when paired with Shanahan. 'MEMBER the 2014 Cleveland Browns who were in first place in the AFC North with Brian Hoyer leading the way? I 'MEMBER and so should you when making your MVP bets.