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Early in a season, we do our best not to overreact. We realize the season is long and what we just saw this past weekend is only a single data point for what will eventually paint a much bigger picture. With that being said, one NFL quarterback impressed so much that he's now the second-favorite in the MVP race.
Kyler Murray threw four touchdowns and added another with his legs in the Arizona Cardinals 38-13 win over the Tennessee Titans. Entering the weekend, Murray was +2500 (25-to-1) to win NFL MVP. Now? Murray sits at just +900 (9-1) at BetMGM. Only Patrick Mahomes at +550 has better odds.
Murray winning MVP is not outlandish
When preparing to join a hype-train, I like to take a second and think about how outlandish the idea really is. Murray winning NFL MVP falls very low on the "outlandish" scale. I don't think this is all hype and no substance. If we think back all the way to a week ago before the NFL season began, if someone told me that Murray was going to win MVP, I wouldn't have ridiculed the opinion. I might not have agreed, but it definitely was within the range of outcomes for Murray.
Murray might just be the most exciting player in football. He's electric with the ball in his hands and he's more than capable as a passer. He improved statistically from his rookie season to his sophomore campaign. The Cardinals invested in improving the team around Murray with upgrades to the offensive line (Rodney Hudson) and his weapons (A.J. Green, Rondale Moore, James Conner).
Murray is entering his third season in the league, and all three have been with Kliff Kingsbury as his head coach and play-caller. This type of continuity is good for Murray's development. We saw Josh Allen take a seismic leap in his third season last year under Sean McDermott and Brian Daboll in Buffalo. Now? Allen sits tied for fifth best odds at +1600 to win MVP.
Is Arizona good enough for Murray to be a contender?
I have little doubts in Murray's ability to lead a fun and exciting offense with the Cardinals while producing video-game style highlight reel plays and being a fantasy football league winner.
My doubts come with his team and their ability to be a legitimate contender in the NFC West. In order to win MVP, you usually need to play for a team that makes the playoffs and wins 11-plus games. Arizona currently sits at +550 to win the NFC West, the worst odds of any team in the division. Arizona currently sits at +3000 to win the Super Bowl.
All four teams in the NFC West won their season opener by at least 8 points. Arizona's win might have been the most impressive on the bunch, but the Seahawks, Rams and 49ers are all very good teams. When handicapping Murray's MVP outlook, this is my biggest holdup rather than anything about Murray the quarterback.