Since 2000, the NFL MVP award has gone to the running back position just four times, with quarterbacks making up the rest. All four times, it took a historic season from a back who was more responsible for his team’s successes than that year’s top quarterback. This rare occurrence is once again brewing in the phenomenon known as 2020.
Defying modern-day football logic, the Titans are 8-3, third in the AFC, behind a bulldozing back, Derrick Henry. With a pass-second, run-first mindset, Tennessee is among the few Super Bowl contenders.
According to football film guys, Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers are the two leading MVP candidates. If you swap them, do the Packers or Chiefs look any different right now? What running back could mimic what Henry has done? Respectively, the answers are no and no one.
It’s not merely his rushing yards, though Henry leads the NFL in total rushing yards. It’s the how and when. Henry runs with such force that defenders spend much of their workday acting as if they’ve seen a ghost. As if the lights went out, and The Undertaker has arrived.
Henry’s fourth quarters aren’t reserved to run out the clock and clinch victories, though he’s the best option for that, too. The Titans turn to the run-game even when trailing or tied.
This season, one game-winning play came as effortlessly as Mahomes’ heart-breaker in Vegas. Remember this?
Derrick Henry literally handed the Ravens an L pic.twitter.com/r7Sjrv7Yx7
— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) November 22, 2020
Henry isn’t the MVP frontrunner for now, but he’s far closer to the top than the odds believe. Right now, FanDuel Sportsbook offers Henry for MVP at +2500 (sign up here). That’s behind Ben Roethlisberger’s +2000. If Henry continues this pace, those odds should shift dramatically.
The media is already catching on. Tuesday, Good Morning Football‘s Nate Burleson named Henry as his MVP frontrunner. PTI is now asking if Henry “can” win the award.
This race is far from over. There are five long weeks of the season left. Five weeks ago, Russell Wilson was the clear frontrunner and Mahomes wasn’t even in the top three. Now, Wilson is an afterthought.
Tennessee’s Week 16 matchup with Green Bay will attract national eyeballs. With the lights bright, expect an MVP statement from the monster back against Green Bay’s run defense.
Mahomes and Rodgers are more fun to watch, and their storylines are juicier. But are either as valuable as Derrick Henry?
Again, +2500 — hurry.