The Matt Ryan buzz has been growing as we get closer to the season, which is something I’m still adjusting to as a Falcons fan used to the great Joe Flacco vs. Ryan wars of 2008-2016. Ryan’s MVP 2016 and borderline MVP 2018 have put him on NFL map in a way he hasn’t been for years, which is why you get things like this that are still mildly astonishing to me.
This is nice, in a way, because I don’t mind hearing smart people say good things about my favorite football team. But while it’s nice, it hasn’t had a particular impact on Matt Ryan’s MVP odds for the 2019 season, which are hovering around 25/1 per Westgate Las Vegas. That places him in a dead heat with Ben Roethlisberger for the 10th-best odds per that particular sportsbook, just behind Baker Mayfield and just ahead of Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky. The latter is comically popular as an MVP pick for bettors despite having roughly the same actual odds of winning the MVP as you or I do.
But let’s go back to Ryan. He was third in the NFL in terms of both passing yards and touchdowns and second in both those categories in 2016, with Steve Sarkisian’s shaky first season at the helm in 2017 serving as the only interruption in statistical performance over the past three seasons. Ryan was plagued by a number of fluky interceptions that year, too, and he’s legitimately been one of the best three or so QBs in the NFL over that span. Should he have the 10th-best odds if he’s clocking in as the third-or-so best QB, especially with Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady potentially aging out of MVP-caliber play as soon as this season?
Yeah, I’d say so. For all the love Ryan is deservedly getting, it’s worth remembering that we enter the 2019 season with a partially rebuilt offensive line and a new (if old) offensive coordinator, two variables that could impact Ryan a lot despite the talent level on this offense and his recent run of success. Pair that with uncertainty about how this team will fare this year—and remember, MVPs on losing teams are rare—and this feels like a fair place for him to be.
Of course, odds be damned, we hope he wins the MVP, and he certainly can. But not thinking he’s a slam dunk for it is, based on everything we know heading into the year, perfectly reasonable.
Who would you bet on to be this year’s MVP?