2021 NFL MVP: Matthew Stafford's odds keep rising, a new AFC dark horse emerges | NFL News, Rankings and Statistics | PFF

NFL News & Analysis

Premium Content Sign Up

2021 NFL MVP: Matthew Stafford's odds keep rising, a new AFC dark horse emerges

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) makes a pass against Detroit Lions during the first half at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021.

Week 8 of the 2021 NFL season was all about Matthew Stafford’s MVP campaign.

Kyler Murray’s Week 8 performance greatly helped the Los Angeles Rams quarterback, as not only was the Cardinals quarterback Stafford's biggest competition for the MVP Award, but the Cardinals' 24-21 loss also increased the Rams' chances of winning the NFC West. 

Meanwhile, Dak Prescott missed the opportunity for a prime-time statement due to an injury, and Tom Brady failed to score on a potential game-winning drive late in his clash against the New Orleans Saints.

After all these events, Stafford is now almost favored against the field.

Click here for more PFF tools:

Rankings & ProjectionsWR/CB Matchup ChartNFL & NCAA Betting DashboardsNFL Player Props toolNFL & NCAA Power Rankings


Before we get to the Week 9 NFL MVP rankings, here's a short overview of the methodology:

We trained a model to predict the winner of the MVP award based on only three regular-season parameters after Week 18 concludes:

  1. The number of wins and how that ranks across the league
  2. Rank in the division
  3. Expected points added (EPA) per play and how that ranks across the league

Since the model works with regular-season stats in hindsight, we need to simulate the season's remaining games to find results with which we can feed the model. So, we utilize PFF's weekly win total simulations and a Bayesian updating method to simulate each quarterback’s EPA per play.

During the season, we update our beliefs on all quarterbacks with Bayesian updating, incorporating up-to-date EPA per play and making adjustments based on PFF passing grade, our charting data — which can identify plays with bad results that aren't the quarterback's fault — and the quality of defense faced.

Using these updated beliefs, we can simulate the EPA per play for the remainder of the season for each quarterback.

The number of wins and whether a QB wins his division is obtained from our weekly win totals simulations.

The goal isn’t to describe who would be MVP if the season ended right now, but rather to predict who will have the best combination of individual stats and team wins at the end of the season.

Defense adjustments

First, we adjust for each defense to find which quarterbacks played the most difficult schedule (and receive the highest positive adjustments). Since it’s still early in the season, the defense adjustments are based on both opponent-adjusted performance this season as well as a prior from the offseason. With each passing week, the prior will play a smaller role and will be fully disregarded after eight weeks of play.

The defensive strengths of the teams lead to the following adjustments for quarterbacks (a positive adjustment means a difficult schedule so far; a negative adjustment means an easy schedule):

Of course, it’s also interesting to look at future strength of schedule based on the current strength of defenses. In this chart, a positive number means an easy future schedule (i.e., the team and its quarterback is supposed to generate more EPA due to playing easier defenses):

The Favorites

Subscribe to PFF Edge to continue reading

Already have a subscription? Sign In

Tackle Lifes financial Challenges. Western Southern Financial Group.
Sponsor

NFL Featured Tools

  • PFF's Best Bets Tool reveals the bets PFF's data and algorithms give the biggest edge to within spread, total, player prop, and moneyline markets.

    Available with

    Elite
  • PFF predictions and real time spread, moneyline and over/under lines for each NFL game.

    Available with

    Elite
  • PFF's Player Props Tool reveals betting opportunities within player prop markets.

    Available with

    Elite
  • Power Rankings are PFF’s NFL power ratings based on weekly player grades in each facet of play. These power rankings are adjusted based on coach, quarterback and the market each season.

    Available with

    Edge
  • PFF's exclusive metrics provide matchup previews, position rankings, grades, and snap counts.

    Available with

    Edge
  • Our exclusive database, featuring the most in-depth collection of NFL player performance data.

    Available with

    Elite
Pro Subscriptions

Unlock NFL Player Grades, Fantasy & NFL Draft

$9.99 / mo
$39.99 / yr

Unlock Premium Stats, PFF Greenline & DFS

$34.99 / mo
$199.99 / yr