Quick — name the positions that have never had a Super Bowl MVP winner.
Quarterbacks obviously have won the majority of MVP awards, including four straight and six of the past seven. It’s been a while since a running back took home the award — the last was Denver’s Terrell Davis in the Broncos’ XXXII win over the Green Bay Packers. A receiver has won it a handful of times, with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Santonio Holmes being the last to do so in XLIII against the Arizona Cardinals. Receiver is the only position other than quarterback to win the award since Tom Brady took his second in XXXVIII.
On the defensive side, three linemen have won, including the only shared award in Super Bowl history, when the Dallas Cowboys’ Harvey Martin and Randy White split MVP in XII. Two linebackers — Baltimore’s Ray Lewis and Dallas’ Chuck Howley — have won it. Three defensive backs have done so, including the last defensive MVP, Tampa Bay cornerback Dexter Jackson in XXXVII. Even a kick returner won the honor: Green Bay’s Desmond Howard in XXXI.
That leaves three positions without an MVP: kicker/punter, offensive lineman and tight end. It’s about impossible for an O-lineman to win it. However, because the Feb. 2 game is the first outdoor cold-weather Super Bowl, perhaps the time has come for a kicker to win. The current forecast for East Rutherford, N.J., is a game-time temperature of around freezing. There’s a chance of rain/snow during the day, but precipitation isn’t expected in the game.
Needless to say, the two quarterbacks are big Bovada favorites, with Denver’s Peyton Manning at 8-5 and the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson at 13-4. But Manning generally struggles in sub-freezing temperatures. Wilson is more of a game manager and doesn’t put up huge statistics. He hasn’t thrown for more than 215 yards since Dec. 2 and hasn’t had a game with more than one touchdown since then.
Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is the third favorite at 6-1, and he’s been a beast in these playoffs, with 109 yards rushing and a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers and 140 yards and two scores against the New Orleans Saints. The two teams’ top receivers are both 16-1: the Broncos’ Demaryius Thomas and Seahawks’ Percy Harvin. The latter has barely played this season after hip surgery and a concussion but should be healthy for the Super Bowl.
Also at 16-1 are former Patriot Wes Welker and Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who had the game-winning play last week against San Francisco and is more popular than ever — not necessarily in a good way — after his postgame antics. Super Bowl MVP is largely a popularity contest.
As for the two starting tight ends, Denver’s Julius Thomas is 25-1 and Seattle’s Zach Miller is 75-1. Thomas has been used much more than Miller, finishing the regular season with 65 catches for 788 yards and 12 scores.
Then there are the kickers: the Broncos’ Matt Prater and Seahawks’ Steven Hauschka (both 100-1). Prater set the NFL record with a 64-yarder earlier this year and has missed only two field goals all season. He was 4-for-4 last week against the Pats. Hauschka also has missed just two all year and has had three each in both playoff games.