With Super Bowl LVII drawing ever closer, it’s time to take a look at some of the likely candidates for this year’s Super Bowl MVP award.
A number of players from both teams have proven worthy of being considered as a potential winner of the award, due to their strong performances in either the regular season, post season or both.
The award, historically, has been given to the offensive player that made the biggest impact on the game – which tends to be the quarterback. 15 of the last 25 Super Bowl MVP awards have gone to that position.
Only four defensive players have been able to break the trend and win the award, and that’s exactly where we will start our list…
Haasan Reddick has been on a tear this season throughout both the regular season and post season, and that is not likely to change during the Super Bowl.
Reddick finished the season by recording 16 sacks which was far better than his previous career high of 12.5. He continued to carry the momentum from his strong season into the post season and currently leads the playoffs with 3.5 sacks.
Pass rushers are some of the most important and impactful players in the game and if Reddick is able to cause headaches for the Chiefs offensive line and apply constant pressure – if not record several sacks in the game – it could easily wreck Kansas City’s gameplan.
His impact may prove to be even more important than a normal game as Mahomes’ mobility could still be limited due to a high ankle sprain that he has left him clearly hobbling since the Divisional Playoff Round win against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
If Mahomes is unable to avoid the pressure due to his troublesome ankle it could be a long and painful night for him and the Chiefs offense.
Reddick is currently listed with the best odds of a defensive player at +3000.
In similar fashion to Reddick, Chris Jones has carried forward the momentum from a strong regular season into the post season and been a game wrecker for opposing offenses.
He tied his career high with 15.5 sacks this season and has so far recorded two sacks through two games to put himself in the top five for post season sacks.
Even when he has not been recording a sack he has still been a menace in opposing teams’ backfield, and recorded six quarterback hits and multiple tackles for loss through just the postseason.
Seeing that he plays as an interior rusher Jones has a short route to the quarterback, and any quarterback will tell you interior pressure will cause them more problems than pressure coming from the exterior of the line.
If Cox is able to impact Jalen Hurts enough to shut down the Eagles potent offense or just make a few impactful plays in the backfield it could be all he needs for the award.
He is listed at +5000 by the bookmakers.
Longshot defensive candidates
The Eagles No. 1 corner has earned the nick-name ‘Big Play Slay’ for a reason and sometimes that is all it takes to win Super Bowl MVP.
Slay has made a career of locking down the opposing team’s No. 1 receiver and turning interceptions into huge returns.
This season Slay finished the year with three interceptions.
Malcom Butler was the last cornerback to win Super Bowl MVP after sealing the game winning interceptions when the New England Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks, and Slay is more than capable of making a similar play if Mahomes makes a mistake on a throw in his direction.
Slay’s odds to win the award are +5000.
Gardner-Johnson’s inclusion on the list may seem as a surprise to some but he has quietly had one of the best seasons of any defensive player in the NFL.
Through playing in only 12 games this year due to injury, Gardner-Johnson was tied for recording the most interceptions in the league with six.
His most impactful game of the year came against the division rival Dallas Cowboys when he recorded two interceptions and two pass deflections to help secure a crucial victory.
We have already mentioned how a defensive back can earn the award with just one game-changing interception and if Gardner-Johnson is able to portray the same prowess at recording them that he showed in the regular season, he could be the difference-maker in who takes home the Lombardi Trophy.
It appears the casinos don’t think to highly of Gardner-Johnson’s chances at making such an impact by listing him with +15000.
Offensive long shots
Why start off the list with a player as dangerous as Brown, you might ask? Very simply: he hasn’t played up to his normal levels of production from the regular season.
As one of the NFL’s most dangerous wide outs he turned 88 receptions into 1,496 yards, 11 touchdowns, and an average of 88 yards per game, and 17 yards per reception. He was also targeted an average of eight and a half times per game.
Throughout the post season, however, these numbers have been down across the board.
He has recorded only 50 yards, on seven catches, and no touchdowns. His yards per reception has also dropped to only 7.1 while his targets have remained similar at an average of seven through two games.
If Brown has the type of dynamic game we are accustomed to seeing from him the +1400 odds on him to win the award may provide a pretty penny to some gamblers, but if he continues the current postseason trend he may go down as a non-factor when this game is remembered throughout history.
As the Eagles’ unquestioned No. 1 running back, Sanders and his performances this season have done nothing to make him lose that role.
Sanders rushed for 1,269 yards and 11 touchdowns this season to lead the Eagles in both categories.
He has continued the same pace throughout the playoffs, in terms of his average yards per carry changing from 4.9 to 4.6 in the post season and has scored two touchdowns, however he has been averaging more than one less carry per game throughout the playoffs which has made his average yards per game fall from 74.6 to 66.
Through the Eagles’ two games this post season he has also been out rushed by 32 yards by fellow running back Kenneth Gainwell, who has two less carries than him.
Philadelphia’s game plan will still feature Sanders as the primary running back, which will give him a chance to be impactful enough to steal the award, in a game where everyone’s attention will be focused on the passing attacks.
Sanders being listed with +3000 odds is confirmation that bookies believe he has a chance to win the award, albeit not a strong one.
Chiefs wide receivers
Kansas City’s wide receiver room makes our longshot category as a group for several reasons.
One of the most primary being no one from the group has necessarily stood out from the rest and secondly – at the time of writing – the only player whose status is not in question due to injury is Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and he finished third on the team in receiving yards with 687.
JuJu Smith-Schuster led the wide receivers in receiving yards with 933, while the wide receiver with the most touchdowns on the team was Mecole Hardman, with four touchdowns through only eight games and 25 receptions thanks to injury.
The wide receivers, in fact, saw backup running back Jerick McKinnon catch more touchdowns than each of them individually after he hauled in nine TD passes.
Despite this, Valdes-Scantling showed that when you play with a quarterback like Patrick Mahomes (more on him coming up) all it takes is getting hot during the right game to make a tremendous impact. The WR exploded in the AFC Championship against the Cincinnati Bengals to haul in six passes for 116 yards and a touchdown.
If any of the wideouts that are actually healthy enough to play can catch the same lightning in a bottle during the Super Bowl they may easily carry home the MVP award as a second trophy.
Now we’ll finally start off the part you’ve all been waiting for with the player I promised to get back to earlier: Patrick Mahomes.
Mahomes unsurprisingly has the second highest odds to win Super Bowl MVP of any player in the game with +125.
The 27-year-old has been one of the best quarterbacks in the league since becoming the starter in Kansas City, and that continued this year. He finished the season with 5,250 yards, 41 touchdowns, and only 12 interceptions.
He has continued his heroics this post season in the games against the Jaguars and Bengals, carrying the Chiefs to victories while clearly playing through high ankle sprain that zapped portions of his patented mobility and scrambling ability.
Mahomes has already won one Super Bowl MVP and a performance anywhere near his normal output can easily win him the award for a second time.
Hurts has the highest odds of any of any of the MVP candidates currently at +110, and it isn’t hard to see why.
The Eagles QB had a breakout season and put up the best passing numbers of his career with 3,701 yards, 22 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He also put up a career high in rushing touchdowns with 13 on the year, along with 760 yards.
Hurts has continued to be just as effective in the post season as the heart and soul of the Eagles offense.
Whether it be through the ground or the air Hurts will be the primary reason the Eagles offense soars or crashes with a painful thud.
A winning performance that equates to anywhere near soaring could win him the award with ease.
Smith was dangerous throughout both the regular season and has appeared to elevate his game in the post season.
He finished the season with 95 catches for 1,196 yards and seven touchdowns on the season.
Throughout the playoffs he has been the more effective of the Eagles’ top two wideouts and has proven to be Hurts’ favorite target on passing plays after hauling in eight catches for 97 yards and a touchdown through two playoff performances.
Interestingly enough, Smith’s odds are lower than Brown’s at the moment, as Smith’s comes in at +2500.
If he continues to be Hurts most trusted targeted throughout the big game those odds could cost gambling sites a pretty penny.
Kelce is by far and away the Chiefs’ best weapon in the passing game and if you need any further proof please refer to the aforementioned subpar numbers from the Chiefs’ receiving core.
Kelce finished the season with 110 receptions, 1,338 yards and 12 touchdowns – proving to once again be the focal point of the Chiefs passing game and Mahomes’ favorite target by a wide margin.
He has triple the amount of playoff receptions as his nearest teammate and expectedly leads the team in post season touchdowns.
The numbers show that Mahomes will at least look in Kelce’s direction on nearly every pass play, giving arguably the NFL’s most dangerous tight end ample opportunities to win his first Super Bowl MVP trophy.
Aside from the chance to win his second Super Bowl in three tries Kelce will also have the extra motivation of playing against his brother Jason Kelce who is the starting center for the Eagles.
Kelce currently has the third highest odds to take home the award of any player in the game with +1100.