Wed 11/02/2015 - 11:32 EST

Running Back Drought For Super Bowl MVP Could End This Season

There can be absolutely no argument that the NFL is more of a passing league than it’s ever been. Running backs have largely been marginalized around the league and teams aren’t even drafting them in the first round these days.

The Super Bowl also has shown how much running backs have been made less important as no running back has won Super Bowl MVP since Denver’s Terrell Davis in Super Bowl XXXII. However, if the two conference  championship games were any indication, a running back may finally win MVP again on Feb. 1 Glendale, Ariz.

The overall betting favorite for Super Bowl MVP at Bovada is no surprise: New England’s Tom Brady, who was also the MVP of Super Bowls XXXVI and XXXVIII. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, off a terrible NFC title game, is the 15/4 second favorite with his running back, “Beast Mode” Marshawn Lynch. While Wilson was throwing four interceptions in the 28-22 overtime win over Green Bay in Seattle, Lynch carried 25 times for 157 yards with a TD and caught one pass for 26 yards. Other than perhaps Dallas’ DeMarco Murray, no running back is more important to his team in today’s NFL than Lynch is to his. That was Lynch’s sixth game this season with at least 100 yards and Seattle has won five of those.

Lynch, who might not be back in Seattle next season due to salary issues, tens to bring his best game in the playoffs. Last year he had 140 yards rushing in the divisional round win over New Orleans and then 109 in the NFC title game win over San Francisco. Lynch only carried 15 times for 39 yards in the Super Bowl against Denver but it was such a rout so quickly that Lynch wasn’t needed all that much.

The rest of the MVP favorites are Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski at 9/1 and then New England running back LeGarrette Blount at 12/1. Gronk is a spectacular player and probably the Patriots’ second most important behind Brady, but no tight end has ever won Super Bowl MVP. Make no mistake that Seattle’s No. 1 focus defensively will be slowing Gronk.

The Seahawks have the No. 1 rush defense so Blount will have his work cut out for himself. Blount, who was released by the Steelers in midseason, killed the Colts in the AFC title game by carrying 30 times for 148 yards and three scores. Blount played 42 offensive snaps to easily eclipse his season high of 30 against San Diego on Dec. 7. He gained 69 of his yards after contact. Blount joined former Bills running back Thurman Thomas (1993) and former Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith (1995) as the only players to rush for more than 140 yards and score three touchdowns in a conference championship game.

After Blount there’s a deep fall off in MVP odds with Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman next at 25/1. The two kickers, New England’s Stephen Gostkowski and Seattle’s Steven Hauschka, are the 150/1 long shots.

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