I came to a realization today: I would not be as excited for the 2022 NFL season if it weren’t for the 2020 draft class.
From Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert, to Jonathan Taylor and Justin Jefferson, that class was absolutely stacked. They’re players who have quickly become favorites we all look forward to watching once September comes around. Each of them deserve awards for what they’ve accomplished just two years into the league, but let’s focus on one stud I think will bring home the NFL MVP title this year: Herbert.
Bookmakers at FanDuel have the Los Angeles Chargers quarterback’s MVP odds listed at +900. He ranks behind only Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. A $100 bet on Herbert would win you $900. The MVP can be one of the toughest awards to handicap, but I see great value with Herbert, who has quickly climbed the ranks.
In 2021, Herbert finished second to Brady in passing yards and third in touchdown passes behind only Brady and Super Bowl champion Matthew Stafford. With possible regression from the two of them — they’re 20 and 10 years older than Herbert, respectively — he could very well lead in both categories. Even if they don’t regress, Herbert has proved he’s a top talent under center. His 2021 ESPN quarterback rating of 65.5 in the regular season was third behind only Aaron Rodgers and Brady.
One concern surrounding Herbert’s chances to win the award relates to his interceptions. Last season he was tied for the third-most with Allen and Taylor Heinicke. Remember, though, interceptions don’t define a quarterback. Allen is still the favorite to win MVP this season despite his picks last season. Stafford had the most interceptions in 2021 and still took his team all the way. With another season of the offense under his belt, I’m confident Herbert will clean up that part of his game.
While some might argue playing in the AFC West, the toughest division in football, might hinder MVP chances, I actually think it helps his case. While the talent in the division is among the best, the Chargers seem to have the most complete team with the fewest questions heading into Week 1. With Herbert leading the way, they are bringing back almost every offensive weapon from last year including one of the best receiver duos in the league with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, and a top backfield talent in Austin Ekeler. Most importantly, they addressed their biggest weakness from 2021 this offseason: the run defense. Along with Joey Bosa, the front seven now will feature six-time Pro Bowl defensive end Khalil Mack after a trade with the Chicago Bears. Among all edge defenders with 200 snaps played, Mack graded top five in run defense in his first seven NFL seasons, according to Pro Football Focus.
As far as the rest of the division goes, the Broncos will have an adjustment period with Russell Wilson taking over an offense full of young but unproven talent. The Chiefs are not only without their best receiving weapon in Tyreek Hill, but they’re also dealing with losses and gaps in their secondary and defensive line. The Raiders are a team I am high on this season but I will take Brandon Staley, Herbert and a balanced offense over Derek Carr and company.
If Justin Herbert can lead the Bolts to win the AFC West, he could run away with the MVP award. Grab it now before he becomes the favorite and you lose out on value.