According to the gambling site OddsShark, there's a very good chance that Tom Brady or Matt Ryan will walk away with the Most Valuable Player award in Sunday's Super Bowl.
That makes sense. A quarterback has been named MVP in 27 of the 50 Super Bowls. Seven of the last 10 MVPs have played the most important position. This year, it seems even more likely because Ryan and Brady were 1-2 in QB rating and widely regarded as the frontrunners for regular-season MVP, with Ryan expected to win it.
Brady is the clear favorite to win Super Bowl MVP, however. OddsShark has him listed at plus-160, which means you would win $160 on a $100 bet. Ryan is second at plus-275. Then it drops down to Falcons stud wideout Julio Jones, who is plus-750. Then it's Pats receiver Julian Edelman at plus-1,200.
That tells you that the oddsmakers expect Super Bowl LI to be a shootout between two great quarterbacks, a pass-heavy affair with the better gunslinger standing in the end. The over-under has held steady at 58 combined points, the most ever for the big game.
Those odds on Brady are pretty slim for an MVP award with so many players involved. I'm not a gambling man, but if I were wagering I'd go with a long shot skill player like New England running back Dion Lewis, who could have a big game as a dual threat and is at plus-2,500 on the MVP line.
But ultimately, this is Brady's moment and I expect him to come away as MVP. Brady is at the top of his game at age 39. He has ample motivation. There's the revenge factor from his DeflateGate suspension, of course. His mother has been very ill, giving him an added emotional edge.
Brady can become the first quarterback to win five Super Bowls, breaking a tie with Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw. He could become the first player to win four Super Bowl MVPs. He and Montana are the only ones who have won three.
He could also strengthen his claim as the greatest of all time among quarterbacks. I felt he was the GOAT before he won his fourth Bowl two years ago against Seattle, but he could swing a lot of people his way with a win.
That win over the Seahawks was, to my mind, the greatest individual performance in Super Bowl history. Brady had virtually no running game. The Patriots defense had an average game. He had to throw 50 times and led the Pats from 10 points down in the fourth quarter against the best pass defense in the NFL.
Atlanta's defense, which is improving but very young, isn't nearly as good as the Seattle defense that Brady shredded two years ago in Arizona. He doesn't have Rob Gronkowski, but he has Lewis, who was hurt that night, and ex-Bill Chris Hogan, a better downfield receiver than Brady had against the Seahawks.
The Patriots will try to establish the ground game with LeGarrette Blount and run clock to slow Atlanta's tempo and keep the ball of Ryan's hands. But as always, Brady will have to make the big throws at crucial times for the Pats to win.
I suspect he'll be up to the moment. Evidently, the people who predict these things for a living agree.