In winning the Super Bowl XLVIII MVP in February 2014, Seattle Seahawks’ linebacker Malcolm Smith became the first non-quarterback winner since Santonio Holmes five years earlier and the first defensive MVP since Dexter Jackson 11 years earlier. Until Smith’s 10-tackle, one-interception, one-touchdown effort in the demolition of the Denver Broncos, quarterbacks had won 26 of 47 Super MVP Awards, a majority of 55.3 percent. The majority has shrunk since Malcolm Smith, who wasn’t listed on any Super Bowl MVP odds, became the most unlikely MVP in Super Bowl history.
One year after Smith’s improbable honor, Tom Brady led a return to stasis in winning MVP of Super Bowl XLIX. Brady, however, was followed by the second linebacker MVP in three years, Denver’s Von Miller, who became the fourth-ever linebacker to win. Brady and Nick Foles went back-to-back in LI and LII before Julian Edelman won two years ago and Patrick Mahomes last year.
Before Malcolm Smith booked his ticket to Disney World, quarterbacks had won 55.3 percent of Super Bowl MVP Awards. That number has dropped to 54.5 percent. While it’s not a plunge, is it a notable enough drop over a large enough period to suggest we’re in the middle of a non-quarterback trend?
If the trend continues through Super Bowl LV, it’ll require, per usual, a non-favorite to win the most prestigious single-game award in American sports. Patrick Mahomes is the favorite (+100) to become the fifth-ever player with multiple Super Bowl MVPs and the first back-to-back winner since Terry Bradshaw in Super Bowls XII and XIV. Mahomes is followed closely by four-time winner Tom Brady (+200). Tyreek Hill (+900) is the only other player with odds better than +1000.
Hill would be the eighth receiver to win, which would surpass running backs for the second-most by one position. Hill’s teammate Travis Kelce (+1000), meanwhile, would become the first-ever tight end winner. Kelce is followed by Clyde Edwards-Helaire (+1400), Leonard Fournette (+2000), and Mike Evans (+2000). Tyrann Mathieu (+3500) and Chris Jones (+3500) have the best odds among defensive players.
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Andrew Doughty is a writer for BetMGM and host of High Motor by BetMGM, an NFL and college football podcast available on Apple Podcasts and everywhere else. He has written for Sports Illustrated, HERO Sports, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter: @DoughtyBetMGM.