For the second week in a row, we had some NFL teams on bye weeks. One of those teams was Buffalo, meaning Bills fans had nobody to root for this week. So what were Bills fans doing on Sunday while their team was inactive? Maybe they took the day off from football and watched their beloved Sabres of the NHL. Maybe they relaxed and watched some playoff baseball. Or maybe they rooted against Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, and Justin Herbert. Aka guys who pose a threat to Josh Allen in the MVP race.
Allen is definitely the leader in that discussion right now, which makes a ton of sense. He has been incredible all season and has his team positioned as the favorite to win the Super Bowl. But maybe Bills fans were actually doing the wrong thing by rooting for Allen’s MVP competitors to fail. What if Allen winning the MVP this season is a bad thing?
I know what you’re thinking. I sound crazy. The best way to win the Super Bowl is to have the best player in the league on your team. It’s as simple as it gets. But that might not be the case. The Bills’ best chance to win the Super Bowl that the fanbase so desperately desires may be if Allen doesn’t win MVP. Let’s examine the postseason success of recent MVPs and see whether Bills fans should want their quarterback to take home the award this season.
First things first let’s get this out of the way. Since 2000, no MVP winner has gone on to win the Super Bowl in the same season. There have been 23 different winners of the award, yet none of them have gone on to hoist the Lombardi trophy that year.
And yes, I said 23. You may be realizing that the math does not check out on that and are probably calling me an idiot, but Peyton Manning and Steve McNair tied for first place in 2003 so they both won it. Yeah, that was a thing that happened.
But the weird math of it all aside, it’s insane that nobody has won both the MVP and the Super Bowl in the same season. Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes. None of those guys could do it. The last player to actually pull it off was Kurt Warner in 1999. So doubling up on those two achievements hasn’t happened this century.
Bills fans, do you still want Allen to win MVP? Would you sacrifice the ability to get that giant, wide-left monkey off your back just so the young quarterback can have a little trophy?
Maybe you think that he could be the one to actually pull it off. To finally break the trend. I mean, it has to happen at some point, right? And there were probably a bunch of those guys that got close to winning the Super Bowl but just fell short.
There have been 10 players to win MVP and lose in the Super Bowl. So maybe the odds aren’t too bad for accomplishing that, but can Bills fans really handle another Super Bowl loss? Some of the notable MVPs to come oh so close to that second trophy are Brady with the undefeated 2007 Patriots, Brady to the Giants again in 2011, and Brady to Nick Foles in 2007.
Wait, I’m sensing a pattern here. Oh yeah, it’s that Tom freaking Brady has never pulled this off. The greatest quarterback who has won three MVPs and seven Super Bowls has never won both in the same season.
So, who has? Is this even an attainable feat? Warner did it in 1999 as we already established but are there any others? Or is he just some sort of anomaly?
Well, funny enough, it was actually pulled off the year before Warner when Terrell Davis did it in 1998. Brett Favre, Steve Young, Emmitt Smith, Joe Montana, and Terry Bradshaw all did it. Bart Starr actually pulled it off in the first-ever Super Bowl, so back then it happened 100 percent of the time. And then two of the most unique MVPs in history, Lawrence Taylor and Mark Moseley, also won the Super Bowl that year. I guarantee you have no idea who Moseley is, which is fine because he’s a kicker. Yes, the league gave the MVP to a kicker in 1982, so I feel like that one doesn’t really count.
So, all in all, 10 players (if we’re including the kicker) have accomplished the feat in question. But all ten of those were between 1966 and 1999. Only three of those have happened since Allen has been alive.
But what about the overall success of the MVPs in the playoffs? There are other factors in play in the playoffs so maybe there’s a reason they weren’t winning the Super Bowl. But the best player in the league surely had success in the playoffs. He certainly was capable of leading his team to at least a couple of victories before losing for some totally justifiable reason.
Well, going back to our sample size since 2000, MVP winners have accounted for 27 postseason wins. Again, there have been 23 winners, which means that the supposed best player in the league is averaging 1.17 playoff wins. Now, most of these players and their teams earned byes, which guaranteed a divisional round berth but also took away an easier matchup on paper that may have resulted in an extra win.
But let’s adjust the sample group to adhere more toward the player whose potential MVP we are discussing. So, if we throw out all the non-quarterbacks (sorry Marshall Faulk, Shaun Alexander, LaDanian Tomlinson, and Adrian Peterson), we are left with 19 MVPs. Running backs don’t have as much of an influence on the game as quarterbacks so it doesn’t make sense to hold them to the same standard. Surely there will be more success amongst this group now that is it just the signal-callers.
That is true to some extent. Only Alexander won a playoff game out of those four running backs, and he actually made it all the way to the Super Bowl. That leaves us with 19 MVPs accounting for 25 wins, or an average of 1.32 playoff wins. It’s still not that much better.
What about just the past ten years? The game has changed and is being played differently so it isn’t fair to judge Allen’s potential success based on guys like Rich Gannon (yes he won an MVP, look him up). The last 10 MVP winners have accounted for 11 wins and an average of 1.1 playoff wins, which is actually the lowest average of the subsets.
It turns out that taking out four of Manning’s five MVPs and two of Brady’s, the success of the award winners gets much worse. That does track, considering they account for 13 of the 23 playoff wins for the group. So clearly, it takes being one of the best quarterbacks ever to achieve the highest level of success in the regular season and postseason.
This probably isn’t going to make Bills fans any less likely to actually root for Allen to win the MVP. I’m not sure math and statistics is the best way to reason with that fanbase, or any NFL fanbase for that matter. But the math and the statistics do show one thing. It is dam hard to win both the MVP and the Super Bowl in the same season. By all means, continue to root for your team and its quarterback all you want, I’m not trying to stop you from having fun. But if you’re a Bills fan and you really want to look ahead and root for what would make you the happiest, maybe root for a couple of inconsequential interceptions from Allen to make his stats look a bit worse. Maybe root for an undefeated run by the Eagles and some great plays by Jalen Hurts. Maybe root for your team’s favorite quarterback to not win the MVP because it will give him a better shot to finally bring the city of Buffalo a Super Bowl trophy.