The big game is straight ahead of us and lots of folks love to bet their props. Across the bookmaking landscape, there are hundreds of options available to bet on. One of the most popular prop bets is the Super Bowl MVP. Depending on the book, Tom Brady’s MVP prices range from -130 (Bookmaker) to +140 (BetOnline), that’s from the major off-shore books. Jared Goff is +250 to win the Super Bowl MVP title at BetOnline and as low as +150 at Bookmaker. The consensus prices range from +200 to +250. Pinnacle is showing +112 for Brady and +216 for Goff as I am writing this. Spoiler: Jared Goff is underpriced.
The MVP title is directly correlated with who wins the game because there cannot be a most valuable player for the losing side, otherwise, the player wouldn’t be the most ‘valuable’. This means that the implied probability for the MVP is calculated by the win probability for the team and the probability that a certain player will be the ‘best’ player on the team.
Since 1990, 17 of the 29 Super Bowl MVPs were quarterbacks. The signal-caller is the most important position in football and has the most impact on the game. However, over the past two decades, the passing game not only became more efficient, but the passing volume also increased as well. Since 2007, 9 of the 12 MVPs were quarterbacks, 7 out of 9 since 2010. The two non-quarterbacks since 2010 to win the SB MVP was Malcolm Smith in Super Bowl 48 (pick-six, a fumble recovery, and 10 tackles) and Von Miller (2.5 sacks, 2 strip sacks) in SB 50. Offenses dictate games and passing has a significantly higher correlation to scoring than running which means there is a high probability that this week’s Super Bowl will be decided through the air.
The QB of either team has the best chance to win the MVP title if his team wins the game. With the total set at 56.5, we should expect a game with a high-scoring nature which makes the QBs even valuable. In order for any defensive player to win the MVP, he would need a monster performance that has a high impact on the score: Two strip sacks by Aaron Donald or two interceptions by Marcus Peters of which one gets carried home for six. But at the same time, those defensive plays would need to limit Jared Goff’s performance, for instance in a convincing win where they milk the clock in the fourth quarter. Would you bank on an outlier special teams performance?
The last time an RB became MVP was Terrell Davis in 1998. Running backs have little to do with winning in today’s NFL and in the Super Bowl, too. The fact that McVay rotates Todd Gurley and CJ Anderson make a Rams-RB for MVP even less likely. The Patriots rotate Sony Michel and James White. An RB for MVP is very unlikely, too.
Let’s dig just a little bit into the math. I would guess that the odds are above 80% that a QB wins Super Bowl MVP. Let’s assume the chances are 80% that Jared Goff wins the MVP if the Rams win, which might still be a conservative estimate. The current money line price for the Rams to win the game is +118 at Pinnacle which would be an implied probability of 45.8%. 0.458 * 0.80 would be 0.366 (36.6%) and this would equal a ‘fair’ price of +173 for the MVP title. In that case, +250 seems too high and is a difference of 8.05% in break-even percentage.
We took the actual money line price and an 80% estimate to calculate the fair price. But if you don’t think the Patriots should be favored by -2.5 points on a neutral and you see this game as let’s say a 50/50 affair. This would decrease the estimated price to +150 (40% implied probability).
I’m not saying the Rams are winning the Super Bowl, nor am I saying Jared Goff will be the game’s MVP. But betting on him is positive expected value, all things considered.