If you were impressed by Jalen Hurts after watching the first couple of games of this incredible Eagles season and placed money on him at 11/1 for NFL MVP, good for you.
If you got Hurts at 25/1 before the season started to win that top award in season-end voting by Associated Press football writers, even better.
And if you’re some kind of soothsayer who put money on the third-year quarterback at odds of 40/1 or more way back before the NFL Draft, before the Eagles considerably strengthened Hurts’ supporting cast by acquiring top wideout A.J. Brown, then you’re a very smart and potentially rich bettor indeed.
That’s because for the first time this season, Hurts this week became the clear favorite to win the league’s top honor when announced in February. The best return on him now from Pennsylvania’s online sportsbooks would be the -120 offered by PointsBet.
Barring something unexpected with just four games remaining in the regular season, it is essentially a two-man race between Hurts and 2018 MVP Patrick Mahomes, with Hurts having leapfrogged the Chiefs quarterback following their games on Sunday.
"Jalen Hurts has changed an entire culture. He turned the Eagles back into a winning franchise. He has done a lot more for his team than Mahomes has."@RealSkipBayless says Jalen Hurts is the NFL MVP pic.twitter.com/3nnN266EeY
— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) November 28, 2022
One week makes big difference
A week ago, the sites using Kambi odds like Barstool Sportsbook, BetRivers, betPARX, and Unibet had Hurts and Mahomes even in MVP odds at +150, while all of the other sites had Mahomes as the favorite. The Eagles’ dual-threat signal-caller was still listed at a potentially profitable +185 from PointsBet and +175 from DraftKings and Betway.
Then on Sunday, Hurts led the Eagles offense in another dominating performance in a 48-22 win over the New York Giants. Hurts threw for 217 yards and two touchdowns and presumably would have added plenty to those statistics if the game were closer. He ran for 77 yards and a TD.
Mahomes, meanwhile, threw for 352 yards and three TDs against the Denver Broncos, but he also threw three interceptions that helped Denver make the game a lot closer, at 34-28, than it otherwise would have been. Hurts has thrown just three picks all season.
So this week, Hurts has flipped all the way to -175 at DraftKings, compared to +175 a week ago. FanDuel moved him from +150 to -150. The Kambi sites shifted from +150 to -155.
For those who put money on Hurts at a more lucrative price earlier and want to consider hedging in case he gets hurt or otherwise stumbles, Mahomes can now be bet at +200 at FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, Betfred, and Betway.
The only other legitimate contender at this point, though a longshot, is Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow, who can be bet at +750 at FOX Bet and elsewhere. He would need a strong finish while Hurts and Mahomes somehow both discontinue their standout seasons.
Team’s success also factors in
The NFL MVP award has traditionally gone to the player viewed as having the best season at quarterback — the last non-QB to win was Vikings running back Adrian Peterson in 2012. And Hurts and Mahomes both have statistics that could qualify them in that manner.
Mahomes comfortably leads the league in passing yards with 4,160 and passing touchdowns with 33. But he’s also thrown 11 interceptions, among the most in the league.
Hurts has thrown for 3,157 yards and 22 TDs, with his three interceptions. But his 686 rushing yards are third among quarterbacks and his 10 rushing TDs are first.
Jalen Hurts now has the highest QB rating in the NFL 🔥🔥
1 – QB rating 108.4
1 – lowest INT % 0.8
1 – rushing TDs 10
2 – total TDs 32 (tied)
2 – yards/attempt 8.1
3 – completion% 68
4 – total yards 3,843
— Lord Brunson tweets (@lord_brunson) December 13, 2022
Overall, Hurts’ statistics compare favorably with the last two similarly mobile quarterbacks who won MVP — Lamar Jackson in 2019 and Cam Newton in 2015.
He has something else in common with that pair — a highly successful team that has exceeded expectations. The MVP voting is based on regular-season performance, and the Ravens went 14-2 in Jackson’s MVP season and the Panthers did even better at 15-1 in 2015.
At 12-1, the Eagles are at least two games better than every other team in the NFL this season (though their Super Bowl odds of +390 to +450 trail those of the Buffalo Bills). On paper, their only tough game remaining is a visit to Dallas on Christmas Eve, so it would be a surprise to see Philadelphia finish any worse than a stellar 15-2.
Hurts is not alone in deserving credit for that record. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Miles Sanders have had strong seasons, and the defense has been consistently outstanding.
But the MVP award only goes to one man, almost always a quarterback, almost always from a highly successful team. And it probably helps if you’ve never won the award before and defied all expectations with your performance. Hurts has already passed for more yards and TDs with fewer interceptions than he had a year ago, while maintaining his strong rushing numbers.
As a player who was only deemed about 12th most likely by oddsmakers to win the award when the season started, Hurts meets all of the criteria, to the delight of all Eagles fans — and even more, to the potential good fortune of those who saw this coming and invested in him months ago.
Photo: Chris Pedota/NorthJersey.com/USA TODAY Network