NFL MVP: Early Look at Candidates for 2021

Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills looks to pass in the third quarter against Frank Clark #55 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the AFC Championship game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 24, 2021, in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

This season’s Super Bowl champion is yet to be determined. The 2020 NFL MVP is yet to be determined. But we can still have some fun and look ahead to next year’s Super Bowl odds and the early favorites to win the 2021 NFL MVP.

Here are five names that look to be early favorites to win next season’s MVP:

Patrick Mahomes

It should either be Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers winning the 2020 NFL MVP award, which is announced the day before the Super Bowl. Rodgers appears to be the slight favorite and if he does win it, watch out for Mahomes in 2021.

Since winning the MVP in 2018, Mahomes is regarded by most as the top quarterback in the NFL. But Lamar Jackson was named the MVP in 2019, and Rodgers could be the winner this year. 

Mahomes with a something-to-prove attitude is a dangerous Mahomes. Heck, even if the Chiefs end up winning back-to-back Super Bowls, players will find any source of motivation. And Mahomes will want the recognition as the best player in the NFL.

Josh Allen

After an up-and-down first two seasons in the league, Allen had a breakout season and led the Bills to the AFC Championship game. In the regular season, he threw for 4,544 yards, 37 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions.

The progression he’s made is impressive. If that progression continues into 2021, which should be expected for a young QB, Allen is set for a monstrous season.

Allen is now viewed in that top-tier of young, franchise quarterbacks. He can validate the hype with an MVP year.

Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers was at his best this year, setting new personal season passing records. In the regular season, he threw for 4,299 yards, 48 touchdowns, and five interceptions. He very well could be named the MVP for this season.

A big offseason topic will be if Rodgers returns to Green Bay or tries to get his second Super Bowl ring with a different franchise. He came into the 2020 season motivated, and his play showed that. 

You can make an argument he’ll be even more inspired going into 2021 after falling one game short of reaching the Super Bowl.

Derrick Henry

Derrick Henry #22 of the Tennessee Titans runs with the ball against the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card Round of the NFL Playoffs at Nissan Stadium on January 10, 2021, in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The last time a non-QB was named the MVP was 2012 when Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson ran for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns. In 2020, Henry ran for 2,027 yards and 17 TDs in the regular season.

Even with a solid passing attack, the Titans are going to feed Henry. He carried the ball 378 times this season. 

If Henry is that productive once again in 2021, he could earn more respect from voters who typically look at the huge numbers put up by quarterbacks.

Stefon Diggs

Diggs stayed on the field to watch Kansas City’s AFC Championship celebration. While some may scoff at that, thinking Diggs did it for the cameras, there’s no doubt he’s entering this offseason motivated.

If he improves his game even more, he could solidify himself as the top receiver in the game.

Diggs led the NFL in regular-season catches (127) and receiving yards (1,535) to go along with eight touchdowns. If Allen is playing like an MVP-level quarterback, then Diggs will be in the conversation as well.

No wide receiver has ever won the NFL MVP award. Could Diggs change that?

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Sam Herder is a writer for BetMGM and HERO Sports. A North Dakota State journalism grad, he spent several years in the print media industry before writing for online outlets. Sam has covered sports at all levels — high school, college, and professional — since 2011.