Justin Herbert is the smart-money bet for MVP in 2021


The 2020 NFL season still is not officially over as we await the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ intriguing Super Bowl matchup. However, that is not stopping us from looking ahead to 2021 and thinking about how we can make money on LA Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert.

Herbert was one of the biggest stories in the NFL this season. He was the third quarterback selected in the 2020 NFL Draft behind Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa and legitimately seemed like he was going to be the third wheel.

Herbert was not even supposed to start this season, at least not as much as he did. It took a freak injury to Tyrod Taylor in which a team doctor accidentally punctured his lung for Herbert to get his chance. Once he got that chance, he never gave it up.

Hebert was not just great, he was historic. For my money’s worth, he had the greatest rookie season by a quarterback in NFL history, breaking just about every rookie quarterback record except the total passing yards record — something he would have easily broken if he played all 16 games.

This was not a one-year wonder. Justin Herbert is going to be the franchise quarterback of the LA Chargers for years to come. I am so confident in Herbert that I might just bet on him next season.

Why Justin Herbert is the smart-money MVP bet

It might seem like a stretch for Herbert to win the MVP award in his second season but there is a precedent for him to make that kind of jump. It is not a long-lasting precedent, but it is one that has occurred in recent years and is definitely worth mentioning.

Let’s go back to 2018. Patrick Mahomes started just one game in his rookie season and took the NFL by storm in his second season in 2018. He was the runaway favorite for the MVP, both because he had a stellar season but he also had the fresh-face narrative.

He was so good that he would have won without the narrative, but getting that narrative behind you is one half of the MVP battle.

Mahomes led the Kansas City Chiefs to a 12-4 record that season — the same record as the LA Chargers, who went on to beat the Baltimore Ravens and the following season’s MVP, Lamar Jackson, in the AFC Wild Card Round.

Jackson also won the award in his second season. Jackson established his potential in his rookie year and took that to an entirely new level in 2019. He led the league in passing touchdowns (36) while breaking the single-season rushing yards record for a quarterback with 867 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns.

Jackson was stellar, and again, had the narrative behind him. There was not any significant competition for the award, as Mahomes got hurt, but he had the narrative nonetheless.

The MVP this season is most likely going to go to Aaron Rodgers and rightfully so. However, halfway through the season it appeared as if another second-year quarterback was going to make his case to win the award.

Kyler Murray was playing sensational for the Arizona Cardinals. Through eight games he had 2,130 passing yards, 16 passing touchdowns and completed 68.1% of his passes with 543 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns.

He got banged up and slowed down significantly down the stretch, but if he stayed at that pace, he wouldn’t have just been in the running, he probably would have won the award if the Cardinals made the playoffs.

Murray was on pace to finish with 4,260 passing yards, 1,086 rushing yards and 48 combined touchdowns. That is an even better season than Lamar Jackson had in 2019.

All this to say that already talented quarterbacks have recently taken a massive step in year two. Justin Herbert already has the best rookie season in NFL history, just imagine how good he could be in year two under (hopefully) better coaching and a better understanding of NFL defenses?

Next. The most surprising Chargers from 2020

The odds have not yet been released but Kyler Murray had 25/1 odds heading into the 2020 season. I would bet that Justin Herbert has similar odds and that is such a smart bet in my book.