Three Dark Horse NFL MVP Candidates For The 2022 Season
Seasons right around the corner.
We all know the usual suspects that'll be favorites for the MVP award for the 2022 season; Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Josh Allen, Tom Brady, yada yada yada. But what about the guys on the outside of the outside of the MVP favorite "bubble"? Here are three dark horse candidates that could take the league by storm in 2022 and win MVP.
Vikings QB Kirk Cousins +5000
Let's get this out of the way first; yes, there is some bias involved as I am a Vikings fan, but there is a legit shot Kirk could win MVP in 2022, and no one is talking about it. Last season, Cousins flew under the radar, but posted great numbers as he was top ten in the three major quarterback stat categories; touchdowns, yards, and least amount of interceptions thrown. Cousins was 9th in passing yards with 4,221, 9th in passing touchdowns with 33, and was tied for 3rd with the least amount of interceptions thrown with only 7.
Another reason that Cousins will surpass those numbers and could compete for an MVP is the emergence and return of weapons on the Vikings offense. One big returning player is tight end Irv Smith Jr. who was banged up last season. Minnesota uses a lot of play action on offense, and adding a quick tight end to the mix gives Cousins an underneath option. His return to the offense will be massive in Cousins success.
The Vikings are also planning on putting Dalvin Cook out wide in some offensive sets this season; Cook wouldn't be pushing vertical on routes, but would be used on RPOs and underneath routes like slants and drags.
This opens up a whole new world of opportunities for Cousins and the Vikings offense. New head coach Kevin O'Connell was the Rams offensive coordinator last season and helped elevate Matt Stafford's game big time. Stafford threw for the third most yards of his career in 2021 and the most touchdowns of his career. Big things are coming for Cousins and the Vikings offense in 2022.
Colts QB Matt Ryan +8000
Indianapolis is a whole new change of scenery for the 37 year old gunslinger. One reason I like Matty Ice at +8000 odds to win MVP has to do a lot with the offensive line unit he's behind. Last season, Ryan was the 5th most sacked QB in the league being taken down 40 times; Carson Wentz on the the other hand was sacked 32 times, 14th most in the league. Ryan will be behind All Pro guard Quenton Nelson and All Pro center Ryan Kelly. This correlates because when Ryan is behind an All Pro center, he is his most productive. Behind Alex Mack from 2016 to 2020, Ryan threw for over 4,500 yards three times and over 30 touchdowns twice.
Another major factor is that he'll have better weapons in Indianapolis than in Atlanta. Ryan has a three headed behemoth in the backfield in Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, and Philip Lindsay; all of which are solid in the receiving game. His top options at wideout will be the very shifty Alec Pierce, big bodied Michael Pittman Jr., and Parris Campbell. Another plus is that the defensive backs on the opposing AFC South teams aren't top notch. He'll face below average secondaries six times a year and this could boost his numbers.
The Colts are going to be a successful team in 2022, possibly the best in the AFC South, and team success traditionally helps the case of an MVP. That was the case for Matt Ryan in 2016 when he took home the MVP with the Falcons.
Steelers RB Najee Harris +15000
Here's a real long shot. The last time a running back won MVP was Adrian Peterson in 2013, and before that was LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006; but the case for Najee Harris feels a bit different. The Steelers quarterback situation is currently undecided, and if they choose to start Pickett, you want him to be able to rely on a strong run game. Last season as a rookie, Najee balled out rushing for 1,200 yards on 307 attempts for 7 touchdowns and catching 74 passes for 467 yards and 3 scores. He's dynamic and will only build off of his great rookie season. Pittsburgh is going to lean on him heavily which will give him more chances to make huge plays.
Another key factor for Harris to possibly win MVP is the additions Pittsburgh made on their offensive line. Last season, he some how rushed for 1,200 yards behind a God awful offensive line unit; but the addition of James Daniels with Kevin Dotson and Chuckwuma Okorafor emerging as solid run blockers helps his case. It's a very outside shot, a full court heave with no time left kind of shot that Najee wins MVP, but at +15000, it's difficult to not throw ten bucks on him.