Andrew Luck entered the league with a lot of fanfare and hype when the Indianapolis Colts made him the No.1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Long before he was done throwing passes in college, the experts in the media were debating his greatness as an NFL quarterback. He has certainly been very good when healthy—but great?
His ascension to greatness could take a very big step this season. Winning the Super Bowl would go a long way towards that goal, but he has a better chance of doing something else—earning MVP honors.
Quarterbacks tend to be who MVP voters focus on, and if the list of guys oddsmakers are giving odds to in the preseason is any indication, this season will be no different. While Luck has been a candidate in the past, this year it looks like he will enter the season as one of the favorites (odds via Bovada.lv):
- Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs +450
- Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts +650
- Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers +800
- Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints +1000
- Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns +1100
- Tom Brady, New England Patriots +1400
- Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles +1500
- Philip Rivers (Chargers), Mitchell Trubisky (Bears), and Russell Wilson (Seahawks) +2000
Mahomes is an understandable favorite. After throwing for 5000+ yards and 50 touchdowns in his first season as a starter, football fans are eager to see what he’ll do now that he has had some experience. If he performs better than he did last year than he has to win the award again, right?
Not necessarily, and it is a far from certain that he will come close to matching those numbers, let alone surpassing them. Luck, however, could very well be the guy with the story voters will love and the numbers to match.
After having shoulder surgery in 2016 and missing the ’17 season, he returned last year with a new head coach and proceeded to have an incredible year. He set new career highs in completions (430), attempts (639), completion percentage (67.3), and rating (98.7).
Pro Football Focus gave him the third-highest grade among quarterbacks last season, 91.2.
Luck accomplished a lot last season, and in Year Two under the guidance of Frank Reich, it is not hard to see him do even better. To that end, it will help if the offensive line can do another stellar job of protecting him (21 sacks allowed between regular season and playoffs).
If Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines, and Jordan Wilkins can combine for over 1500 yards rushing again, that will also help. But the key to his candidacy will be his new wide receiver, Devin Funchess.
Every quarterback is at his best when he has two good receivers to work with. Otherwise, defenses focus on the one good receiver making it much harder for offense to be generated. But if a QB has two to work with and defenses have to respect both, it becomes much easier to move the ball.
Whether Funchess can be that guy remains to be seen. While he was a very good receiver in college, he never seemed to catch on with Cam Newton and the Panthers (but then again, Newton isn’t a great passer).
But should he become the guy the Colts hope he can be, Luck at +650 to win MVP could have tremendous value.