We're still five months away from the start of the NFL season, but it's not too early to look forward to next year. Exploiting the futures market during the offseason allows bettors the opportunity to try and beat the market and get the best of numbers before the rest of the world starts paying attention in late summer.
Aaron Rodgers has won back-to-back NFL MVP awards, and he's a co-favorite alongside Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen to win the award again in 2022. However, there's another quarterback a little further down the list who might be worthy of an investment.
Justin Herbert has been tremendous
In his rookie season, Justin Herbert rewrote the rookie quarterback record books. He finished 2020 as the all-time rookie leader in passing touchdowns, total touchdowns and completions. He also had the most games with 300-plus passing yards and 3-plus touchdown passes of any rookie ever in a single season. He won the offensive rookie of the year award in a year where Justin Jefferson also shattered records.
In his second year, Herbert eclipsed 5,000 passing yards. He finished second in the league in passing yards and third in passing touchdowns.
No quarterback has ever had a better first two seasons in the league. His 9,350 passing yards, 69 passing touchdowns, 839 completions and 17 games with 300-plus passing yards are all records for a signal caller during their first two seasons. Not even Patrick Mahomes had a better first two years.
Herbert also passes the eye-test. His 6-foot-6, 240 pound size gives him more than ideal measurables for an NFL quarterback. He's also mobile, as shown by his 536 rushing yards and 8 rushing touchdowns over his first two seasons. There's not a throw on the field he can't make and he has a bazooka attached to his right shoulder. It was easy to see right from the beginning that Herbert had the goods.
Young quarterbacks usually continue to get better over the first few years of their career. They learn the league and different coverages and situations they need to deal with. They physically mature as well. They learn what works and what doesn't work. Herbert was already one of the top quarterbacks in football over his first two years, so if he continues to improve, an MVP award certainly isn't out of the question. Herbert is currently 14-to-1 to win the award in 2022.
Chargers lack of success has hurt Herbert
While Herbert has been tremendous in his first two seasons, that hasn't exactly resulted in wins for the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers have gone 16-17 over the last two seasons, missing the playoffs in both years.
Obviously, very little of that blame actually goes to Herbert. If you remember, the Chargers and Raiders played a win-and-in game in Week 18 of this past season. In that game, Herbert erased a 15-point Chargers' deficit in the final five minutes in order to force overtime. Over those two drives, Herbert picked up many key conversions on third and fourth down. The first touchdown was on a 4th-and-21 play while the second touchdown was on the final play of the game.
However, things are expected to improve in Los Angeles this season. Their preseason win total is set at 10.5 wins. The oddsmakers also have them as -150 favorites to make the playoffs in the loaded AFC. The team added Khalil Mack, J.C. Jackson and Sebastian Joseph-Day this offseason to bolster their defense. They have the 17th overall pick in the upcoming draft to bolster their roster even further.
On offense, the Chargers have elite weapons in Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler and Mike Williams. Josh Palmer showed flashes in his rookie season. The team also signed Gerald Everett, a good pass-catching tight end. Los Angeles had a top-10 offensive line in 2021, according to PFF.
Herbert was already a top quarterback last year in most categories. If the Chargers improve on the field and win more games, that will only help the narrative around Herbert. A young, already top-level quarterback in a big market on a team that's expected to be much improved is not a bad bet for MVP.
Top MVP favorites
A quarterback has won MVP in nine straight seasons and 14 of the last 15 years. Therefore, it should be no surprise that the eight players with the best MVP odds for 2022 are quarterbacks. Here's the rest of the current MVP leaderboard at BetMGM:
Patrick Mahomes (+700)
Aaron Rodgers (+700)
Josh Allen (+700)
Tom Brady (+900)
Joe Burrow (12-to-1)
Russell Wilson (12-to-1)
Justin Herbert (14-to-1)
Matthew Stafford (15-to-1)
Derrick Henry (18-to-1)
Dak Prescott (22-to-1)
Lamar Jackson (22-to-1)
Cooper Kupp (25-to-1)
Kyler Murray (25-to-1)
Jonathan Taylor (30-to-1)
Deshaun Watson (30-to-1)