Midseason NFL awards: Odds and best bets for 2020 MVP, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year

Miami Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores
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I'm an NFL handicapper here at Pickswise who was raised in a household full of sports fanatics. Since I unfortunately never had LeBron James' jumping ability I wasn't able to make it to the NBA, and chose writing about sports as the next best thing. An avid sports bettor myself, I'm excited to get to write about the industry as it gets set to take off across the country. Buckle up. For Andrew Ortenberg media enquiries, please email contact@pickswise.com.
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We’ve officially reached the midway point of the 2020 NFL season, and the picture is now a lot clearer than when we began. That doesn’t mean there isn’t still a ton up in the air, and the race for all of the league’s awards will only truly start to heat up now.

Today we’ll be taking a look at those awards, like MVP, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, and Defensive Player of the Year, breaking down the contenders and dishing out a couple of best bets with value. Without further ado, let’s dive in:

MVP (odds courtesy of DraftKings)

  • Russell Wilson -182
  • Patrick Mahomes +350
  • Aaron Rodgers +1000
  • Tom Brady +1200
  • Kyler Murray +2500
  • Ben Roethlisberger +3000
  • Josh Allen +3300
  • Derrick Henry +5000
  • Lamar Jackson +5000
  • Alvin Kamara +6600

Those are the top 10, and the pickings begin to become extreme long-shots after them. Wilson is the clear favorite, and although he’s having a great season there’s no way I could lay that much juice with so many games left to play. Even a relatively minor injury that knocks him out for a few games would be enough to vanquish his chances at the award.

Wilson also has six interceptions, far more than the next top two contenders Mahomes (1) and Rodgers (2). In a close battle, turnovers could easily swing it against him. I also think the Seahawks are clearly due for some regression as a team, as the rate at which they’ve been winning close games isn’t sustainable. If the defense causes them to slip to second or third in the division, Wilson’s MVP case will take a huge hit.

I think Rodgers is being slept on here, and he’s my favorite value play at 10/1. He has a 20/2 touchdowns to interceptions split through two games, and his schedule is incredibly soft the rest of the way. The Packers are massive favorites to win the NFC North, and it’s worth noting that Rodgers’ only two turnovers of the entire season both came in the same game against an elite Buccaneers defense.

He should put up huge numbers in the Packers’ remaining games against teams like the Jaguars, Eagles, Lions, Panthers, and Titans, and his triumphant comeback season makes for a great narrative for voters. As far as long-shots go I wouldn’t mind taking a nibble on Jackson at 50/1 since it’s certainly plausible he’ll catch fire in the second half and absolutely tear things up.

Offensive Rookie of the Year

  • Joe Burrow +100
  • Justin Herbert +100
  • Justin Jefferson +1600
  • Tua Tagovailoa +2000
  • Chase Claypool +2500
  • James Robinson +3300
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire +5000

In my opinion Burrow and Herbert are the only two options worth discussing here. I also think the best bet is Herbert, and it isn’t particularly close. Statistically, these two guys are in different leagues right now. Herbert is averaging 8.0 yards per pass attempt, Burrow is averaging 6.9. Herbert has four more passing touchdowns in two less games. The Oregon product is shattering records, and he’s looked fantastic even against elite defenses like Tampa Bay’s, when he threw for three touchdowns while averaging 11.6 yards per attempt.

Yes it’s true that Burrow has been thrown into a slightly worse situation, but that isn’t something voters are going to give him credit for when deciding this award. Herbert also has a cakewalk schedule coming up while Burrow has two games against the Steelers’ defense in his next six contests. The Chargers are likely to finish with a better record than the Bengals, and I think the statistical gap between these two might widen not shrink.

Coach of the Year

  • Mike Tomlin +250
  • Brian Flores +500
  • Kliff Kingsbury +900
  • Andy Reid +900
  • Bruce Arians +1000
  • Frank Reich +1200
  • Sean McDermott +1200
  • Ron Rivera +1400
  • Mike Vrabel +1600
  • Pete Carroll +1600
  • Matt LaFleur +1600

My money is on Flores at +500 here. Tomlin being the favorite doesn’t make all that much sense to me, since I don’t think the Steelers’ success can be chalked up to coaching genius. Pittsburgh’s resurgence clearly is due to Ben Roethlisberger returning to a team that already had an elite defense. The Steelers had arguably the league’s best defense last year, finishing 9-7 and almost making the playoffs, so it’s not like they’re a ‘worst to first’ story.

The Dolphins on the other hand have been bottom-feeders for years now, and what Flores has been able to do in less than two years at the helm is incredible. He’s completely changed the culture of the team after Adam Gase ran it into the ground, and he’s been building a defense that’s extremely sound schematically. Miami’s defense has quietly been playing like one of the best units in the league, and as a defensive coach Flores will get all the credit for that. If the Dolphins can close the season strong, which certainly isn’t a guarantee, then Flores will win this award at 5/1.

Defensive Player of the Year

  • Aaron Donald +300
  • T.J. Watt +300
  • Myles Garrett +350
  • Khalil Mack +700
  • Budda Baker +2000
  • Jaire Alexander +3000
  • Joey Bosa +3300
  • Minkah Fitzpatrick +3300
  • Lavonte David +3300

This one is tough. For a few reasons though I think Garrett is the play at +350. He’s tied with Donald for the league lead in sacks at nine, and if the race between these two is even close I don’t see voters giving the award to Donald for the third time in four years. Garrett also has the most forced fumbles in the league with four.

He has been simply dominant as a pass-rusher, nearly single-handedly winning the Browns games at times. Cleveland has had success this year because of their play in the trenches, and if they make the playoffs for the first time since 2002, this award is his to lose. Given everything Browns fans have had to endure, I think voters will be extra motivated to crown Garrett as a feel-good story.

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