The Packers clinched the top seed in the NFC, which means a likely repeat of MVP for Aaron Rodgers. Everything is still up for grabs in the AFC, leaving a lot to be decided with one regular season week left. We break down where the value lies in these awards races.
As of now, Rodgers will not take a knee in victory formation and sit out the regular season finale but the NFL MVP frontrunner nonetheless does seemingly have the award wrapped up. Could he do something to jeopardize votes and allow another contender to seize the prize? Of course it's possible - but highly unlikely.
Rodgers, a -400 favorite, says he plans to play against the Detroit Lions, even though the Packers have clinched the NFC's top seed. Perhaps he will only play a portion of the game, trying to maintain some rhythm and avoid rust with a bye week looming, while also minimizing injury risk. Given how other contenders squandered opportunities down the stretch, I find it hard to imagine another player overwhelms voters enough to prevent a Rodgers repeat.
Tom Brady (+550) is next on the betting board. While he does lead the league in passing yards and passing touchdowns, Brady did suffer a highly-visible setback that is fresh in voters' minds. In Week 15, on Sunday Night Football, Brady and the Bucs were shut out at home as a double-digit favorite. Now, Rodgers and the Packers were equally feeble against the same New Orleans defense, but voters do not weigh a season opener like they do recent performances. Brady was the MVP betting favorite before that game on Dec. 19 and likely lost the award that night.
Jonathan Taylor (14-1) had some nice buzz after Indy defeated Arizona and New England, but last week's home loss to Las Vegas hurt his candidacy. Plus, as a running back, he needs a narrative and a milestone stat could serve as one. He needs 266 yards in the finale in Jacksonville to achieve the 2,000-yard mark. However, critics might point to the new schedule and how a 17th game diminishes the achievement.
At the end of the day, Rodgers seems like he will defend his crown. His offseason public dispute with Packers management and COVID-19 vaccine word salad still might cost him votes but I doubt it will be enough to prevent the chalk to hold. -400 can actually be considered value. That moneyline translates to an 80% likelihood, and I think his chances are much higher. It is worth a play, as long as you don't mind waiting until Super Bowl weekend to cash the ticket.
Super Bowl odds
The AFC's likely one seed is a 13-1 longshot to win the Super Bowl. That tells you all you need to know about that conference and how wild this postseason could be.
The Titans are favored by double-digits in Houston and just need a win to clinch that top seed. Running back Derrick Henry is expected to return to the Titans after its likely playoff bye, so what on earth are oddsmakers thinking? The Chiefs (+475) deserve blame for skewing the odds, as they are still the AFC betting favorite. But as we saw last weekend, they remain vulnerable against quality competition.
Given the mess that is the AFC, should we consider a longshot? Why not the Bengals (20-1), Colts (22-1) or Chargers (40-1)? Now, I realize Indy and LA have yet to secure a playoff berth but is any AFC team that dominant? I think it's wide open and we should probably consider approaching the futures market as such. Additionally, with COVID-19 making player availability so unpredictable, a longshot may make even more sense.
In the NFC, the Packers locked up the top seed and home-field advantage and thus are understandably the betting favorites at +400. Tom Brady is now down two key weapons in Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin, and the defense is not the same as last year, so can we still find value in the Bucs (+700) to defend their crown? They're obviously a contender but I'm unsure I see any value at that price.
The NFC West actually has three teams that could make it to Sofi Stadium. The Rams (+900) make the most sense and they are expected to win the division this weekend. The Cardinals (18-1) found some life in last Sunday's win in Dallas so do we expect them to make a run, especially with Deandre Hopkins returning from injury? The San Francisco 49ers (35-1) define inconsistency but their best ball is still tough to beat.
While the Packers lack a dominant defense, they have the likely MVP and the offense is as unstoppable as an offense can be. Needing just two home wins, I expect Rodgers to get over the hump this time and reach the Super Bowl. He no longer has Mike McCarthy botching games, and the other NFC contenders that once looked lethal are now showing their warts.
Super Bowl futures
Kansas City Chiefs +475
Green Bay Packers +400
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +700
Buffalo Bills +800
Los Angeles Rams +900
Dallas Cowboys +1200
Tennessee Titans +1300
New England Patriots +1800
Arizona Cardinals +1800
Indianapolis Colts +2200
Cincinnati Bengals +2200
• Well, it finally happened. I never gave up on Ja'Marr Chase and the betting market finally allowed the stud wideout to catch Mac Jones for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Chase (-240) is now the favorite after Jones (+180) entered last weekend as a -450 favorite. Unlike the MVP, this is not an award earmarked for quarterbacks. Chase is among the league's best at his position and I had faith his talent would eventually allow him to outshine a limited rookie QB.
• The Coach of the Year betting market seems strange. Zac Taylor (+150) and Matt LaFleur (+175) are top two favorites, while Mike Vrabel (+350) seems to be on the outside looking in. I would think it would be the reverse order. Vrabel has somehow kept the Titans intact after losing star Derrick Henry to injury, and they can secure the AFC's top seed with a win on Sunday. It seems unfair to LaFleur, but he does have Aaron Rodgers and that is a variable. Taylor has done a miraculous job but how can anyone argue that a coach outperformed Vrabel, who did more with less?