Tom Brady won it all last year, except for one thing: the NFL Most Valuable Player Award. But if Brady had played the full 16 regular-season games, instead of missing the first four while he served his Deflategate suspension, Brady might have won the MVP award, too. It went to Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan instead, after an epic 2016 campaign that led the Falcons to the brink of upsetting New England at Super Bowl LI.

Brady could be in the best position of anyone to take home the NFL MVP award this year. At press time, he’s the +400 favorite on the NFL season props market, ahead of Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (+500) and Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (+700). Ryan is one of several second-tier contenders tied at +1600. Is the reigning MVP being overlooked at these prices?


That Tears It

Not necessarily, but Ryan might get overlooked by the people who will decide the 2017 NFL MVP winner. That would be the panel of 50 select writers from the Associated Press. The advanced stats say that Ryan outperformed Brady on a per-game basis last year, but if Brady hadn’t been suspended, the writers may very well have handed the popular Patriots pivot his third MVP award.

Of course, football is a team sport, and Brady is only as good as the collection of receivers he has to work with. That collection lost an important piece Friday when WR Julian Edelman (98 catches, 1106 receiving yards last year) tore his right ACL and was put on injured reserve for the rest of the 2017 campaign. That leaves newly-minted Patriot Brandin Cooks (78 catches with New Orleans last year) and holdover Chris Hogan (38 catches last year) as Brady’s top targets this season. Not the best of news for anyone betting on Brady’s third MVP.


Raise the Roof

As for Ryan, he’ll have his full complement of receivers to throw at this year, plus some added depth in the form of WR Andre Roberts (14 catches with Detroit last year). In fact, the Falcons are bringing back almost their entire league-leading offense from 2016. They’ve made some key upgrades on defense, as well, which should make life a little easier for Ryan on the other side of the ball – although working with shorter fields could take Ryan’s raw QB stats like receptions and yardage down a peg.

There is one other caveat for Ryan’s MVP boosters. The Falcons have bid the Georgia Dome adieu; they start playing in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium this year, and it happens to be a retractable-roof stadium. That roof will probably be open more often than not, which could negatively affect Ryan’s stats and further diminish his MVP candidacy in the eyes of the voters. Otherwise, it’s all systems go for Ryan and the Falcons, and their small-market value should make him worth a double-dip on the NFL odds board.


*Odds as of August 28, 2017