For all of my fellow degenerate gamblers out there, I think you will agree with me in saying that there's nothing quite like flipping that calender from August to September and knowing that football is right around the corner. Whether one is a lines junkie, a future forecaster or a value hunter, the season provides hundreds of different options for gamblers of all shapes, sizes and bank accounts to dip their toes into predicting the future of the NFL season. Some predictions, like Chad Pennington making a shocking return comeback to the league or more likely, hearing that there's actual interest from some team to sign a quarterback who throws the football as well as a pitcher fresh out of Tommy John surgery throws a baseball is drawing significant interest, shouldn't have you holding your breathe. Others, like Jimmy Graham continuing his explosive rise into stardom by leading the league in receiving yards due to the added benefits he'll receive from the stricter regulations on pass interference, definitely have intrigue.
Personally, though the weekly betting is something that can be very lucrative, I've always seen value betting on futures and props as a major cash cow that not enough people try to capitalize on, mostly due to the fact that waiting around for half a year for money to potentially be made isn't everyone's cup of tea. However, if you're like me and go through those lists countless times, thinking about scenarios and likelihoods of those scenarios coming to pass, than you've come to the right place. Without further delay, here are my value plays for this year's NFL MVP award
Logical Pick: Aaron Rodgers (5/1, Bodog)
Value Plays: Andrew Luck (28/1, Bet365), Lesean McCoy (25/1, Bodog), Robert Griffin III (40/1, Bodog)
Explanation: I won't linger too much on why one should lay money down on Rodgers winning the MVP because frankly, there are about a million analysts out there that have done it for me, not to mention the game tape of the man playing over the course of the past half decade. Simply put, armed with a great receiving duo in Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson, a rising star who will take pressure off of the passing game in Eddy Lacy, a fast pace of play and a defense that will do it's share of the lifting, the Packers are going to be one of the best teams in the league and video game numbers will be put up by their quarterback.
Now, if laying your money on a low rate of return favorite isn't exactly your cup of tea, the three I've listed above have all of the ingredients in place to make a push for the award this coming season.
With Luck, all that we needed to know about him as a professional football player was on display in the stunning comeback victory versus the Kansas City Chiefs last season. Immensely skilled, big bodied, smart and clutch are a few of the words that came to mind after witnessing that heroic effort. That said, for a quarterback to win the award, they usually have to have the ideal combination of team success and outstanding individual numbers that are matched or surpassed by few if any. Last season, the focus on establishing an ineffective run game stalled the offense and undoubtedly costed Luck his share of opportunities to leave his mark on a game. Now, with word out of various parts of the Indianapolis Colts' organization that this approach will be loosened, allowing Luck to take the game into his own hands, one can't help but think that team success might not be the only portion of the two part MVP formula for a quarterback that Luck achieves this season. With a receiving core consisting of T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne, Hakeem Nicks and company, the weapons are in place for his breakout.
In McCoy's case, the route to legitimate consideration, especially considering the team situation, is a much tougher one. Last season, he managed to be part of an upstart Philadelphia Eagles team that flipped their fortunes around while leading the league in rushing and yet, he was a mere afterthought in the conversation for legitimate MVP candidates. Entering this season, I'm not as high on the Eagles as many others out there are. I believe that their defense will keep a lot of teams around during the course of their schedule and that a regression for Nick Foles is all but a certainty. With these things in mind, for the Eagles to achieve what they are capable of attaining this season, beginning with an NFC East division title, they will need McCoy to lead the charge. Playing behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL and within one of the quickest tempo systems in the league, the opportunities will be there to rack up yards and scores this season. Last season, though McCoy won the rushing title, he was kept in check on six difference occasions, failing to gain over 50 yards in those contests. While the goal of 2000 yards might be a stretch because of his importance in the passing game and opposing defenses lining up to stop him, approaching 1700-1800 yards on a team that will be as dependent on his contribution as the Eagles will be makes McCoy an interesting play.
Finally, in RG3, you have my biggest gamble in this article. If we are to take preseason performances and news reports to heart, everything right now is screaming to forget about a seeing an MVP worthy season from Griffin. I fully understand the views of the critics out there and also acknowledge that there is definitively a good chance that they might be right about him. That said, people forget too quickly what we saw from Griffin as a player in his Heisman trophy winning campaign at Baylor and first year in the nation's capital. With a great arm, accuracy, a precise deep ball and the ability to make big plays or simply extend them with his legs, Griffin was the poster boy for the new breed of NFL quarterback. Now, after a year riddled by locker room turmoil and, largely due to health concerns, less than stellar play on the field, everyone has forgotten about the man who weaseled his name into the conversation during his rookie season. Last year, with Jay Gruden calling the shots on a team that won 10 games and tried to kill a lot of clock, Andy Dalton threw the football 586 times for 4,293 yards. Unless your a member of the Dalton family, in which case I apologize in advance, I think it's a pretty safe assumption to believe that we all think that Griffin is a much more talented quarterback than Dalton in most facets of the game. With Desean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed and Andre Roberts catching balls in a pass heavy system and Alfred Morris taking pressure off of him, if he remains healthy, a monster statistical season is something that isn't much of a stretch to imagine. Personally, I believe that the Washington Redskins are a better overall team than the Eagles and win the NFC East, giving Griffin the first portion needed, team success. Though it might sound like a stretch right now, the media has always has a certain love for Griffin and as the saying goes, any publicity is good publicity. It's one thing to break out in a big way and be mentioned here and there on Sportscenter but when, under the microscope reserved for only those few select athletes in the media, you break out in a big way and potentially elevate yourself into the conversation of elite while lifting your team from obscurity, that's something different altogether. Yes, it is a stretch and the early signs are pointing against it coming to fruition but if you believe in the talent he possesses and talk yourself into believing even half of my rant above, throwing a few bucks on a 40/1 long shot with legitimate chances if he plays to his ability isn't a bad risk to take.
Remain risky planet Earth.