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Kyler Murray was putting up MVP-worthy numbers most of last season.
After the Arizona Cardinals beat the Buffalo Bills on Murray's Hail Mary touchdown to DeAndre Hopkins, the Cardinals were 6-3 and Murray was having a remarkable season. He was on pace for 4,222 passing yards, 30 passing touchdowns, 1,074 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. It would have been arguably the greatest dual-threat season for a quarterback we've seen.
Then Murray fell off. He said he hurt his shoulder in Week 9 against Miami. It was clear in Week 11 against Seattle he was hurt. Murray quit running and he wasn't the same passer either. The Cardinals missed the playoffs.
With a healthy season, maybe Murray can find himself in MVP contention again.
Kyler Murray's MVP odds at BetMGM
At BetMGM, Murray has the 10th best odds to win NFL MVP. He's +2500, meaning a bettor who wagers $100 would win $2,500.
Those 25-to-1 odds are enticing, but there's one big reason Murray isn't higher on the list.
MVPs do not come from non-playoff teams. Only two players have won MVP despite missing the playoffs: Johnny Unitas in 1967, when the Colts went 11-1-2 but there were no wild-card teams, and O.J. Simpson’s 2,003-yard 1973 season on a 9-5 Buffalo Bills team. No player has ever won MVP on a losing team, and probably never will.
Arizona's win total at BetMGM is 8.5 and they're -200 odds to not make the playoffs. The Cardinals could make the playoffs, but the odds are against it and without a postseason berth, Murray has almost no chance to win MVP. That's his first bar to cross.
If the Cardinals do make the playoffs, Murray should have the numbers to be in the conversation. Assuming he is healthy again, he'll be running. Any quarterback with the ability to throw for 4,000 yards and run for 1,000 will get voters' attention (if his team is good enough to make the playoffs, of course). Nothing has changed on the Cardinals to believe Murray can't replicate his pace from a year ago. If anything, the addition of exciting rookie receiver Rondale Moore could boost Murray's passing numbers.
If you're buying the Cardinals at +165 odds to make the playoffs, it makes sense to put some on Murray at +2500 to win MVP, too. There's no reason to believe Murray won't put up ridiculous numbers again. He might just need the team around him to cooperate.