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2016-17 NFL MVP: Predictions, Odds for Award's Top Candidates

Published by Bleacher Report on Wed, 11 Jan 2017

The best candidates for the 2016-17 NFL MVP aren't hard to figure out.As usual, the list reads something like several quarterbacks and a few guys who had huge years as running backs.Kidding aside, Dallas Cowboys rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have thrown a wrench in the process this year. Otherwise, the spots on the candidacy list go to regulars such as Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan and Tom Brady.An outlier like Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr doesn't enter the discussion after he suffered an untimely injury. Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell also falls into the outlier category, though more because he's not as crucial to his team as some of the other guys (no knock on him, just not every team has a backup as quality as DeAngelo Williams).Given the tight race, here is a look at the odds out of Las Vegas and a prediction for who takes home the hardware.2016-17 NFL MVP OddsAaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay PackersThe question with Rodgers is whether voters want to hurt him for an iffy season before an epic tear or overemphasize said epic tear.Rodgers finished with 4,428 yards and 40 touchdowns, helping the Green Bay Packers close the year on a six-game winning streak while he threw 15 touchdowns with no interceptions.Still, folks will remember the odd middle of the season when the Packers weren't winning games and Rodgers' leadership came under firefrom former teammate Jermichael Finley in an interview with Bleacher Report's Tyler Dunne (h/t CBS Sports).B/R's Doug Farrar made an interesting comparison between Rodgers and Ryan:It's hard to disagree. Given the odds out of Las Vegas and the All-Pro votes (more on that below), though, it seems the award will shy away from Rodgers thanks to the rough season before a hot stretch.Prediction: Rodgers finishes second Tom Brady, QB, New England PatriotsThe biggest negative when it comes to Brady's MVP candidacy is the fact the New England Patriots easily survived his four-game absence to start the year.Of course, Brady went on to throw for 3,554 yards and 28 touchdowns with only two interceptions over 12 games while top target Rob Gronkowski missed eight games.Voters have a tough task here. The Patriots finished with the best record in the league, and Brady did his damage without arguably his best weapon for a large chunk of the year.But then again, he missed multiple games, and the other quarterbacks on the list were on par with him, if not arguably better, for a full season. Maybe four more games would have put Brady into overwhelming-stats territory, but it's hard to lean on such a crutch.Remember, too, that Brady missed those games due to suspension. It's not an immediate disqualification but worth pointing out.Prediction: Brady finishes third Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas CowboysWhen it comes to the Dallas rookies, it has to be Elliott or bust for MVP.Prescott was impressive, but 3,667 yards with 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions while only averaging 7.99 yards per attempt simply doesn't jump off the page the way Elliott's numbers do.Elliott transcended his position as a rookie, leading the league in rushing at 1,631 yards. He scored 15 times and averaged 5.1 yards per carry on 322 attemptsthat ranked him sixth in the league, with the five names above him failing to breach the 252-carry mark.Yes, Elliott might have had an easier transition to the NFL and ran behind one of the league's best offensive lines. But one could argue Elliott is the core reason Prescott developed at such an impressive pace, not vice versa.And in the grand scheme of the MVP race, Elliott can hardly win the debate as front-runner on his team, so he's not taking the entire award for himself.Prediction: Elliott finishes fourthMatt Ryan, QB, Atlanta FalconsWhat more is there to say about Ryan at this point'The Atlanta Falcons gunslinger has bumped his completion percentage (69.9), yards (4,944) and touchdowns (38) while dropping his interceptions (seven) compared to a season ago.Take Ryan off the Falcons, and it's not a pretty sight. The 11-win team and NFC South champs don't put up much of a fight and probably don't upend Denver and Oakland, let alone come up two points shy on the road in Seattle this year.According to Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk, Ryan received 29 of the 50 All-Pro votes when getting named to the first team. Those are the same folks who vote on MVP, so one can make the obvious connection.Prediction: Ryan wins MVP Stats courtesy ofNFL.com.All betting information courtesy of OddsShark. All advanced metrics courtesy ofPro Football Focus. Follow Chris Roling (@Chris_Roling) on Twitter.
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