Less than two weeks away from training camp and a little more than eight weeks away from the start of the regular season, we asked our experts at The 33rd Team to choose their dark horse candidate for 2023’s NFL MVP. Here’s what they had to say.
6 Dark Horse MVP Candidates
Dak Prescott – 16:1
With the Dallas Cowboys’ coaching change at offensive coordinator (Kellen Moore left and was replaced by Brian Schottenheimer), offensive players will be held accountable, and there will be more discipline. — Mike Martz
Hard to believe that the starting quarterback of the Cowboys is under the radar, but that says a lot about his personality. Because of their championship defense and what should be a greatly improved offense, Dak Prescott could win the MVP, and the Cowboys could win the NFC East. — Mike Tannenbaum
Jared Goff – 16:1
After a deep dive into this topic and a lengthy convo with my dear friend Evan, who’s the biggest Detroit Lions fan of all time and a producer/videographer for the Pat McAfee Show, I think Jared Goff is the dark horse candidate to win the MVP.
Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson had multiple head coaching opportunities and turned them down to run it back with Goff. It was Johnson’s first year as OC, and they were a top-five offense. Their relationship is only going to grow.
The Lions also invested in this offense for Goff. Running back Jahmyr Gibbs, taken with the 12th-overall pick, will be used in the passing game immensely, and TE Sam LaPorta, selected with the 34th overall pick, will be a perfect fit. Jameson Williams (when he’s back from his six-game suspension) will essentially be playing his rookie season, as well, coming off a torn ACL.
The weapons are there. The offensive line is great. And the storylines are incredible. Goff has a chance to lead the Lions to their first NFC North title since 1993 and to their first playoff win since 1991. If he delivers a home playoff game to Detroit, I don’t see how he couldn’t be the league’s MVP.
He would go down as an all-time Lion in my book. — Chuck Pagano
Kenny Pickett – 40:1
Dark horse candidates are always bad bets because they’re always on average-ass teams and they need everything to go right for their team to win. Kenny Pickett showed that he has some serious game down the stretch in 2022 and that he is suited for the NFL. He’s got two really good young receivers and a stud tight end. If the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense rebounds, he’ll get them into the playoffs. — Ronde Barber
Russell Wilson – 40:1
Russell Wilson has been close to winning MVP a couple of times, and despite his train wreck of a season last year with the Denver Broncos, he is certainly more than capable of getting the train back on the tracks. He is now with one of the best coaches and play callers in the game in Sean Payton, and I expect Wilson to get back to playing with more confidence, production and consistency. — Rich Gannon
Trey Lance – 50:1
I’m going for a really deep, dark long shot: Trey Lance. Other than at quarterback, the San Francisco 49ers have the best roster in the NFC. I think he will win the starting job, and he has a chance to lead them to the Super Bowl. Go big or go home on dark horse picks. — Joe Banner
Justin Jefferson – 100:1
Justin Jefferson is the most valuable non-QB offensive player in football. The Minnesota Vikings wideout can dominate from any alignment on any type of route and is one of the few wide receivers who can consistently produce against dedicated double teams. — Andy Benoit