The 2021 NFL season is only one week old, but it’s never too early to overreact. Some Super Bowl contenders got off on the right foot last week, while others surprisingly faltered. The Bills, Ravens, Packers, and Browns were among the Super Bowl hopefuls that suffered defeats in Week 1, but it’s still too early for any of them to panic.
The race for NFL MVP figures to be a fascinating one. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, who opened as a +500 favorite at NFL betting sites to win the award, is holding steady atop the rankings heading into Week 2. Aaron Rodgers and Josh Allen, however, have both seen their MVP odds tumble after underwhelming showings in their respective season openers.
Mahomes is still a clear-cut favorite, but he has no shortage of competition at the top. Here’s a look at whose MVP odds are trending up and down heading into Week 2.
Impressive Debuts for Stafford, Winston
Matthew Stafford (+1800 -> +800)
Jameis Winston (+4000 -> +2500)
We saw tons of quarterback shuffling around the league this offseason. A pair of NFC contenders – the Rams and Saints – were among the teams to break in new starting QBs this year. Matthew Stafford made his way to LA in a blockbuster deal from the Lions, while Winston beat out Taysom Hill for the Saints’ starting job following Drew Brees’ retirement.
It’s early, but both players are off to fine starts. Stafford led the Rams to a dominant 34-14 win over the Bears on Sunday Night Football in front of a packed house at SoFi Stadium.
The Rams traded Jared Goff for Stafford in an attempt to give the offense more of a big-play threat under center, and he looked the part from the jump. The former No. 1 overall pick completed nearly 77 percent of his throws on his way to 321 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in his first game as a Ram.
Los Angeles entered the season as slight betting favorites to win the deep NFC West, and that status remains unchanged heading into Week 2. However, all four teams in the division have started 1-0, so the Rams certainly can’t afford to take their foot off the gas. Stafford put up some massive individual seasons during his time with the Lions, but he never received serious MVP consideration with the team always near the bottom of the NFC North.
The Rams have surrounded Stafford with more than enough talent at the skill positions and along the offensive line, so it wouldn’t be a surprise in the least to see him retain his place among the MVP frontrunners moving forward. He looks like a perfect fit for Sean McVay’s offense. If the Rams can stay relatively healthy, this may emerge as one of the most dynamic offensive teams in football once again.
Winston, meanwhile, exceeded all reasonable expectations in his first start for the Saints. New Orleans destroyed the Packers 38-3 on Sunday thanks in large part to Winston’s five touchdown passes. The game was essentially over as soon as it started, and the former Buccaneer had no issue carving up Green Bay’s abysmal defense on Sunday afternoon.
He only had to throw 20 passes because the game got out of hand so early, but he made the most of them. Winston completed 14 of those attempts for 148 yards with those five scores. Most importantly, he did not throw a single interception in what was essentially a perfect game for the new-look New Orleans offense.
Whether he can keep it going remains to be seen, of course. Winston is working with a makeshift group of pass-catchers with Michael Thomas on IR. We know he’s capable of putting up big numbers, but Deonte Harris, Marquez Callaway, and Juwan Johnson is hardly an established collection of NFL-level talent.
Winston’s MVP odds improved dramatically from +4000 to +2500 after his impressive showing. New Orleans will be in for a fight in the same division as the reigning Super Bowl champs, but early returns on Jameis are nothing but positive heading into Week 2.
Shootout In Tampa Bay
Tom Brady (+1400 -> +1000)
Dak Prescott (+1800 -> 1400)
The first game of the season on Thursday night certainly lived up to billing. Both Tom Brady and Dak Prescott instantly answered whatever questions critics may have had coming into the season.
Despite the fact that he turned 44 this offseason, Tom Brady still looked like Tom Brady. The undisputed GOAT picked up right where he left off in the opener, completing 32 of his 50 attempts for 379 yards with four touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Brady wasn’t even at his best, yet he still put up an absolutely massive line. In Bruce Arians’ high-octane offense, there is no reason to expect Brady to slow down any time soon.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be among the betting favorites to win another Super Bowl as long as Brady stays healthy. It’s fair to wonder whether voter fatigue could be a hindrance to Brady’s MVP hopes, but he hasn’t actually won the award since 2017. He’s still going strong, and the Buccaneers still look like the best team in football. Those two facts alone make Brady worth a gamble at his current +1000 MVP odds.
Dak Prescott played one of the best games of his career in a losing effort in Week 1. After suffering a serious leg injury last season and enduring a shoulder issue in the offseason, Prescott looked every bit like the Cowboys’ franchise QB against the Bucs’ vaunted defense. Dak converted on 42 of his 58 attempts for a whopping 403 yards with three scores and an interception in the opener.
Playing for a franchise like the Cowboys certainly won’t hurt Dak’s MVP hopes. The NFC East is also shaping up to be one of the weaker divisions in football again, and it’s likely the Cowboys’ to lose at this point. Despite the defeat, Dallas still went toe-to-toe with the champs last week.
Prescott’s MVP hopes likely hinge on where the Cowboys finish in the NFC. If he can lead Dallas to one of the top seeds in the conference, he’ll be in the thick of the MVP hunt. If, however, the Cowboys win the East with a middling record of 9-8 or 10-7, Prescott may struggle to earn serious consideration.
Rough Weeks for Allen, Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers (+1000 -> +1600)
Josh Allen (+1200 -> +1400)
The Packers and Bills both generated serious Super Bowl buzz during the offseason, but both teams got off to inauspicious starts in Week 1. Green Bay was shellacked by the Saints in Jacksonville, while the Bills were beaten by a middling Steelers outfit at home.
Aaron Rodgers played one of the worst games of his career on Sunday afternoon. Perhaps he has yet to shake off the drama that followed him all summer long, but he looked like a shadow of the player we saw win MVP just last season. Rodgers was held to just 133 yards with a pair of interceptions before watching most of the fourth quarter from the sidelines.
Green Bay will have a good chance to get back into the win column with a home date against the Lions on Monday, but we’ll see whether Rodgers has the stomach for the fight. Last week, he looked like a guy that was just counting down the days until he could leave Green Bay at the end of the season.
The Bills may ultimately emerge as the biggest threat to the Chiefs’ reign atop the AFC, but Allen and company struggled to get going against the Steelers on Sunday. Allen completed just 58.8 percent of his throws for 270 yards and a touchdown in a losing effort. Buffalo finished third in the league in points per game a season ago (29.9), but they mustered just 16 in Week 1.
Pittsburgh has a good defense, so it’s not the end of the world for Allen and the Bills. He made his way into the MVP conversation last year thanks in large part to his ability to run with the ball, and he did rack up 44 yards on nine attempts in the opener. Buffalo will now head down to Miami for a tough divisional contest against the Dolphins in Week 2.
MVP Is Still Mahomes’ to Lose
Patrick Mahomes (+500)
Despite being held out of the end zone in Super Bowl 55, Patrick Mahomes opened the 2021 campaign as the betting favorite to win MVP. On Sunday in Cleveland, we saw why. The 25-year-old completed three-fourths of his throws for 337 yards with three touchdowns, no interceptions, and a rushing score, to boot.
The Chiefs trailed for most of the game, but it was just a matter of time until Mahomes did his thing to get Kansas City back into the game. The former MVP found Tyreek Hill for a 75-yard score to bring KC to within two with about 10 minutes to play. On the very next drive, Mahomes connected with Travis Kelce for the second time on the touchdown that proved to be the game-winner.
Patrick Mahomes’ record against:
Baker Mayfield 3-0 Lamar Jackson 3-0 Josh Allen 3-0
All four teams in the AFC West won in Week 1, but the division obviously goes through Kansas City. As long as Mahomes stays healthy, he will be as viable a bet as anybody else to take home another MVP trophy. Here’s how I’ll rank the best bets to win MVP in 2021 entering Week 2:
Patrick Mahomes (+550)
Tom Brady (+1000)
Dak Prescott (+1400)
Matthew Stafford (+800)
Josh Allen (+1400)
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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