As a passer, Eli Manning had the best season of his 12-year career last year when he posted 93.6 passer rating, a solid 10 points above his 83.5 career average. For Manning, coming in slightly above the 2015 NFL average of 88.4 is already quite an achievement, considering that he's ranked just 28th in career passer rating among all active QBs with at least 500 pass attempts. With his career 88.4 rating, he's sandwiched between such QB giants as Mike Glennon (83.7) and Brian Hoyer (82.2), and marginally ahead of Sam Bradford (81.0) whose team likes him so much they traded away their future to find a guy to replace him.
Manning has led the league three times in interceptions thrown, and has never in his entire career been in the discussion for league MVP. Even Big Blue View, the Giants' SB Nation Blog, concedes that the younger Manning has "never been a serious regular-season MVP candidate in his 12 NFL seasons."
So I was quite surprised to see the oddsmakers from Bovada list Manning with 25-1 odds to win the NFL MVP award for the 2016 season. Those are the eighth best odds in the league behind Aaron Rodgers (4-1), Ben Roethlisberger (7-1), Cam Newton (15-2), Russell Wilson (8-1), Tom Brady (9-1), Andrew Luck (12-1) and Carson Palmer (12-1), not bad for a guy who has a career completion rate below 60%.
I was even more surprised to see that Tony Romo is ranked 13th overall, quite a bit below Manning, with 40-1 odds for the league MVP title. Romo ranks third overall among active QBs in career passer rating where Manning ranks 28th. And just a year ago (2014), Romo led the NFL in passer rating (113.2), completion percentage (69.9), yards per attempt (8.5), and even ESPN's Total Quarterback rating (83.6), numbers that are orders of magnitude above Manning's career best marks (Rating: 93.6, CMP%: 63.1, Y/A: 8.4, QBR: 66.0).
Ezekiel Elliott (100-1) also make the list, so perhaps a strong running game impacts Romo's odds to some extent. But Green Bay's Eddie Lacy also has 100-1 odds, and that didn't stop Aaron Rodgers from having the best odds of the bunch.
Perhaps it's the concern over a questionable Cowboys defense that's behind Romo's numbers, after all, it's hard to vote someone for MVP who's team is struggling to achieve a winning record. Then again, Eli Manning hasn't had winning record the last three seasons, so that can't be it.
Perhaps it's the concern over Romo suffering yet another injury that's behind the low relative odds.
Whatever it is, I'm going to be in Vegas in two weeks, and I'm going to put some money down on Romo as the MVP. So the longer the odds, the better.
Last year, Cam Newton started the season with 50-1 MVP odds, yet won the thing anyway, so anything can happen. Romo may not currently be a favorite for the title, but that can change pretty fast. With a wealth of targets, a strong ground game, and one of the best O-lines in the league, there's no reason why Tony Romo shouldn't be entering the MVP discussion soon.
|NFL MVP Voting Results, 2004-2015|
|2004 (48 Voters)||: 47||Michael Vick: 1|
|2005||Shaun Alexander: 19||Peyton Manning: 13, Tom Brady: 10,: 6, Carson Palmer: 2|
|2006||: 44||: 4, Peyton Manning: 2|
|2007||Tom Brady: 49||: 1|
|2008||Peyton Manning: 32||: 4, : 4, : 3, : 3, Philip Ribers: 2, : 1|
|2009||Peyton Manning: 39.5||Drew Brees: 7.5,: 2, Brett Favre: 1|
|2010||Tom Brady: 50||- -|
|2011||Aaron Rodgers: 48||Drew Brees: 2|
|2012||Adrian Peterson: 30.5||Peyton Manning: 19.5|
|2013||Peyton Manning: 49||Tom Brady: 1|
|2014||Aaron Rodgers: 31||: 13, Tony Romo: 2, : 2, Tom Brady: 1, : 1|
|2015||Cam Newton: 48||Tom Brady: 1, Carson Palmer: 1|