Jalen Hurts entered Monday morning as the consensus favorite over Patrick Mahomes in the NFL Most Valuable Player award race, and despite not playing a single down, dropped all the way to as low as fourth at several sportsbooks by Monday afternoon.
Turns out, Hurts was diagnosed with a sprained shoulder during their 25-20 victory in Week 15 in Chicago against the Bears, but wasn’t revealed until the betting markets started to collectively freak out.
I’m told sprain is to Jalen Hurts’ right throwing shoulder. I’m told he needs some rest and rehab. It is amazing some of the throws he made and how well he played after the sprain. How about 68 yards to AJ Brown
One Eagle told me today
“He’s a tough MF”
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) December 19, 2022
The third-year Philadelphia Eagles quarterback began the day at -150 odds to win his first MVP, only to find himself as low as +700 on the board behind the aforementioned Kansas City Chiefs signal-caller, along with Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen and Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Furthermore, bettors started to notice major line movement in the Eagles’ upcoming Week 16 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys; moving from a 1/1.5-point underdog on the road, to as high as 6-points with many unsure as to what was causing the drastic shift. Eventually, word caught on after the betting markets shifted that Hurts could be dealing with a considerably injury.
WynnBET oddsmaker Motoi Pearson tells BetSided that the possibility of Hurts being unavailable was on their radar almost immediately:
“Having a guy like Hurts out is going to catch our attention quick,” Pearson said. “Even with Minshew to back him up, he’s still worth a decent amount to the line and now we’ve got to go out and find Eagles bets to book at. Not to mention the significant drop in the total, we’re looking at the thing through a whole new lens.”
It’s worth mentioning that Hurts has not been officially ruled out for Saturday’s game, as head coach Nick Sirianni believes his star quarterback could potentially heal up effectively enough to try and seal up the division.
#Eagles HC Nick Sirianni said he’s not ruling out Jalen Hurts for this week because he’s a fast healer. “His body is not like ours. I will not rule him out.”
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) December 20, 2022
With his status for this week, as well as the rest of the regular season in limbo, many bettors and insiders have already projected the NFL MVP race to be over for the Eagles star QB. However, if we take a closer look, I’m willing to bet that Hurts should not only remain a reasonable candidate, but that he deserves to remain the favorite as well.
Latest NFL MVP odds
Time to Buy Low on Jalen Hurts’ NFL MVP Odds
In the interest of full transparency, I have an early season ticket on Hurts at +1800 odds to win MVP. However, even if I had never placed the wager, there’s plenty of reasoning to go against the decision for dropping his odds in the race.
If the argument is purely based on precedent, there’s plenty of arguments against the notion that a player must play a full season to win. Via StatMuse, the NFL has had 22 MVP award winners in league history who have played 14 games or less in a season, and eight of which who have played in 12 games or less.
The counter to that argument is that for several of those players, a 14-game season was, in fact, the full season. It wasn’t until 1978 that the league made the decision to add two more games. Nevertheless, there’s still six of the 22 winners that have played in a shortened season since 1978 who have gone on to win the regular season’s most valuable player.
Secondly, if the argument is based on who is most deserving of the award, the odds at the start of the week indicated that Hurts was the better candidate than Mahomes; leading him in consensus odds at -150 to +130. After all, neither team played since those odds were released, with the only reason for movement being multiple reports of some sort of shoulder injury, with no confirmation that he will actually miss time.
As a result, Hurts’ odds have since moved him back into second place at +450 to +500, moving once again of Burrow and Allen, but still far behind Mahomes.
Finally, the question that should be asked is what truly changes for the Eagles if Hurts were to not only miss the Cowboys game, but also the rest of the season?
Mahomes already had a considerable lead on him in passing touchdowns and passing yards, but the two quarterbacks are neck-in-neck in completion percentage, and with Hurts’ 13 rushing touchdowns, he only trails Mahomes by three total scores. He’s also rushed for 434 more yards than Mahomes with 10 more rushing scores, and only have five interceptions compared to Mahomes’ 11.
At this point in time, the Eagles hold a 3-game lead over the Dallas Cowboys for the NFC East division, and have all but locked up the No. 1 seed in the conference; earning them a first round bye to the Divisional Playoffs. The Minnesota Vikings sit two back of Philadelphia in the No. 2 seed, and appear highly unlikely to challenge the Eagles even if Hurts were to remain out.
Even if he sits for their game vs. the Cowboys, their next two games could potentially be irrelevant in the standings anyways. The New Orleans Saints are out of the playoff race, and the New York Giants will have likely sealed up one of the final Wild Card spots; currently -500 to make the playoffs at DraftKings Sportsbook.
It’s always conceivable that Mahomes, or potentially even Burrow or Allen play spectacular football down the stretch, willing their teams to top tier spots in the playoff race and truly exemplify themselves as the rightful candidate.
But with Hurts already doing so, and not much else to prove, I buy into the argument that even with missed time, he’s done nothing to deserve his drop in status, and could be a worthwhile bet while the market is going against him.
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