Sean Pendergast

Deshaun Watson Among Heavy Preseason Favorites For 2018 NFL MVP Award

The list of favorites ahead of Deshaun Watson for the 2018 MVP award is not a long list.
The list of favorites ahead of Deshaun Watson for the 2018 MVP award is not a long list. Photo by Eric Sauseda
If any player in NFL history made a more favorable impression over just six games than Deshaun Watson in 2017, an impression that has everyone ignoring two knee injuries and hailing him as a conquering hero, I need you to name names right now. I defy you to find one.

Watson's favorable 2017 impressions manifest themselves in 2018 in any number of ways. Anecdotally, Watson's lack of a knee brace and full participation in OTA's and minicamp were huge, feeding the hype beast, for sure. More substantively, the oddsmakers continue to throw numbers out there that put Watson among the most impactful, most special players walking the planet.

To wit, here are the latest odds from Bovada for the NFL's Most Valuable Player award in 2018 (Texans players in bold):

2018 NFL Regular Season MVP - Odds to Win
Aaron Rodgers 13/2
Tom Brady 7/1
Carson Wentz 19/2
Drew Brees 15/1
Russell Wilson 15/1
Jimmy Garoppolo 20/1
Cam Newton 20/1
Matt Ryan 20/1
Deshaun Watson 20/1
Kirk Cousins 22/1
Jared Goff 22/1
Philip Rivers 22/1
Ben Roethlisberger 25/1
Derek Carr 28/1
Andrew Luck 30/1
Dak Prescott 30/1
Matthew Stafford 30/1
Le’Veon Bell 40/1
Todd Gurley 40/1
David Johnson 40/1
Marcus Mariota 40/1
Antonio Brown 50/1
Ezekiel Elliott 50/1
Case Keenum 50/1
Eli Manning 50/1
Jameis Winston 50/1
Patrick Mahomes 55/1
Saquon Barkley 60/1
Leonard Fournette 60/1
Kareem Hunt 60/1
LeSean McCoy 60/1
Alex Smith 60/1
Blake Bortles 66/1
Alvin Kamara 66/1
Julio Jones 70/1
Joe Flacco 75/1
Mitch Trubisky 90/1
Andy Dalton 100/1
Devonta Freeman 100/1
AJ Green 100/1
Rob Gronkowski 100/1
DeAndre Hopkins 100/1
J.J. Watt 100/1
Sam Bradford 125/1
Nick Foles 125/1
Tyrod Taylor 125/1
A few non-Watson observations on these odds (followed by some delicious Watson nuggets from Bill O'Brien):

1. If you need any confirmation that this is a quarterback's award, know this — the first 17 names on this list are quarterbacks, and they include two guys who have each started only six regular season games (Garoppolo, Watson), several others who have yet to win a playoff game (Wentz, Cousins, Goff, Carr, Prescott, Stafford), and one guy whose right arm might be glued to his body at this point (God bless you, Andrew Luck). The first non-QB's listed are Le'Veon Bell, Todd Gurley, and David Johnson, all at 40/1. (Gurley at 40/1 feels like tasty value, for what it's worth.)

2. Case Keenum on the MVP odds board! 50 to 1! America!!

3. Blake Bortles on the MVP odds board... proof if you're a quarterback and you're sporadically competent, you can make it onto the big board. (Also, what's up, Joe Flacco, Mitch Trubisky, Andy Dalton, and Sam Bradford!)

4. From Super Bowl MVP to 125 to 1 shot for the 2018 MVP — back to your corner, Nick Foles.

5. The Texans have two other non-Watson players on the MVP board — wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and defensive end J.J. Watt, both at 100/1, and Watt is the only defensive player listed, despite missing nearly two full seasons. That's respect.

6. Ok, now we get to Watson, who has just five players between his name and the top of the board. I could sit here and tell you how awesome Watson is, an activity that feels weekly about now, and will become daily in September. However, instead, I will let Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien do the honors. Coach O'Brien stopped by my radio show on SportsRadio 610 last Friday when we were on remote in his neighborhood at Little Woodrow's in Rice Village. He hung out for about 90 minutes, drank a few beers, and gave tremendous insight on the upcoming season.

The whole interview is great, but here are my favorite clips on Watson. Enjoy!

O'Brien on Watson visiting NRG Stadium before the draft in 2017, and mingling with his future teammates...


O'Brien on adjusting the offense from Year 1 to Year 2 with Watson....


O'Brien on Watson's amazing improvisation skills...


O'Brien on his play calling relationship with him....


O'Brien on the moment when he knew Watson would be special....


Training camp begins four weeks from yesterday. The countdown is on!

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at and like him on Facebook at
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast