Today, Mike Greenberg and Co. discussed on ESPN whether Deshaun Watson or Lamar Jackson had a better chance to win NFL MVP in 2020. Initially, it seems a ridiculous debate because one of those two players won MVP last year and one did not. Jackson has proven he can play at an MVP level and should be given the usual automatic leg up in such discussions as a result. But interesting points were made about Watson's MVP candidacy, and if any bettors out there are looking for a good longshot, he's the man to put money on.
According to Oddshark, Watson is currently +2500 to win MVP in 2020. He's even with the recently-signed Cam Newton, the oft-injured Carson Wentz, and an aging Drew Brees. Josh Allen somehow has better odds than him. Josh Allen!
Now, the players equal to or above Watson in the MVP odds race all have better teams than Watson. This lines up, considering the Houston Texans did trade away Watson's No. 1 receiver (and a top-three receiver in the game over the last three years) and replaced him with a running back. While this does not help the Texans' odds of winning a lot of games, it does help Watson's MVP chances because what his career has proven is that he is a player who can make something out of nothing on every play. And he'll have to do a whole lot of that to get the Texans into the playoff discussion.
In 2019, Watson completed 67.3 percent of his passes for a total of 3,825 yards with 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions to go along with seven touchdowns and 413 yards on the ground. That was all with DeAndre Hopkins catching 100 of Watson's passes. If he keeps up the same efficiency and finishes in the same ballpark as his 2019 counting stats, he has to be slotted near the top of the MVP discussion. Even if he drops off a bit in terms of production but cuts down on interceptions and stays at a 65 completion percentage, that's a great foundation for MVP candidacy considering his supporting cast.
Wins is the other big factor that go into an MVP race. The Texans won 10 games last season. Without Hopkins, it will be tough to reach that number again in 2020, and their schedule will do them no favors; Houston matches up against the NFC and AFC North, which produced three playoff teams in 2019. The Texans' own division will give them a battle as well after the Colts added Philip Rivers and the Titans reloaded on the 2019 roster that brought them all the way to the AFC Championship Game.
The Texans don't have a championship roster. But Watson is accustomed to compensating for weaknesses around him. He would need one of the greatest QB seasons in football history to bring a ring to Houston, but he'll only need a Herculean effort to get the Texans to 10 wins and a potential playoff berth. If he can do that, it'll be hard to argue against him as a deserving MVP.