Before we dive into all of the players that have a path to winning this year's Super Bowl MVP, we want to build a smart process. When it comes to awards markets, I begin my process by analyzing past winners. In this article, we will dig into the history of the Super Bowl MVP.
Super Bowl MVPs by Position
Running Backs: 7
Wide Receivers: 8
Tight Ends: None
Offensive Linemen: None
Defensive Linemen: 4*
Kick Returner: 1
*In Super Bowl XII, two Cowboys' defensive linemen were named Super Bowl MVPs. Additionally, I treated Von Miller as a defensive end, as he's primarily a pass rusher.
Takeaways from Past Super Bowl MVPs
- The first Super Bowl was played in 1967, and Packers quarterback Bart Starr won the MVP and repeated the feat the next year.
- Cowboys linebacker Chuck Howley won the MVP for Super Bowl V in 1971, the only time a player on the losing team won it.
- The Super Bowl MVP has been given to multiple players once, when it was given to two Dallas defensive linemen (Harvey Martin and Randy White) in Super Bowl XXII.
- Quarterbacks have won the majority of Super Bowl MVPs.
- A running back hasn't won the Super Bowl MVP since Terrell Davis did so in Super Bowl XXXII (1998).
- That said, one could argue that Chiefs running back Damien Williams and Patriots running back James White were two recent runners who maybe should have won the Super Bowl MVP.
- Five of the seven wide receivers to win the Super Bowl MVP have done so since 2000.
- Only 10 defensive players (over nine games) have won the Super Bowl MVP.
Analyzing Each Super Bowl MVP Since 2000
Note: These games are listed in descending order. Additionally, I have watched and analyzed each of these Super Bowl matchups.
Super Bowl LVI Rams 23, Bengals 20
Rams WR Cooper Kupp
Cooper Kupp caught 8-of-10 targets for 92 yards and two scores. Kupp edged Matthew Stafford (283 yards passing, three touchdowns, two interceptions) and Aaron Donald (two sacks plus a play-breaking pressure on the Bengals' final play). One could argue that Donald should have at least been the co-MVP.
Super Bowl LV Buccaneers 31, Chiefs 9
Bucs QB Tom Brady
Tom Brady took this one down behind a very efficient outing and his historic reputation, but Tampa Bay’s defense won this game. Bucs then second-year linebacker Devin White had 12 tackles, an interception, and a pass defended.
Super Bowl LIV Chiefs 31, 49ers 20
Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes
On the positive side, Patrick Mahomes had 286 yards passing with two scores, along with 29 yards rushing and another score. On the downside, he had two interceptions and two fumbles. He ended up getting the nod over Tyreek Hill (nine receptions for 105 scoreless yards) and Damien Williams (104 yards rushing and a score with 29 yards receiving and another score).
Super Bowl LIII Patriots 13, Rams 3
Patriots WR Julian Edelman
As you can see from the score, New England’s defense won this game. Since none of their defenders had a true marque performance, Edelman’s rock-solid outing (10 receptions for 141 scoreless yards) took this MVP.
Super Bowl LII Eagles 41, Patriots 33
Eagles QB Nick Foles
This game breached 70 total points, which means that the winning quarterback was likely going to take home the Super Bowl MVP. Tom Brady had 505 yards passing and three touchdowns, while Nick Foles had 373 yards passing and three scores. If the Patriots won this contest, Rob Gronkoswki’s 9-116-2 line would have at least given voters something to think about.
Super Bowl LI Patriots 34, Falcons 28
Patriots QB Tom Brady
A number of players had MVP-worthy performances in this contest. Brady threw for 466 yards and two scores while throwing one interception. Patriots running back James White had a massive game, rushing for 29 yards and two scores while adding 110 yards receiving and a touchdown on 14 receptions. If Atlanta held onto the lead here, Matt Ryan (284 yards passing and two scores), cornerback Robert Alford (11 tackles, a fumble recovery, and an 82-yard interception return for a score), or defensive lineman Grady Jarrett (five tackles, three sacks, four QB hits) each had a strong MVP case.
Super Bowl L Broncos 24, Panthers 10
Broncos Edge Rusher Von Miller
Denver’s defense dominated this game from the start, with Von Miller’s 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles leading the way. Peyton Manning struggled in this contest, only throwing for 141 scoreless yards with an interception and two fumbles. Broncos running back C.J. Anderson’s 90 yards rushing and a score was Miller’s biggest challenger.
Super Bowl XLIX Patriots 28, Seahawks 24
Patriots QB Tom Brady
Patriots’ cornerback Malcolm Butler jumping a slant in the end zone for an interception is the most memorable moment of this game. However, Brady threw for 328 yards and four scores, making him the runaway MVP. Julian Edelman (9-101-1) was right in the conversation as well.
Super Bowl XLVIII Seahawks 43, Broncos 8
Seahawks LB Malcolm Smith
The Seahawks blew the doors off Peyton Manning’s high-powered Broncos here. Russell Wilson’s 206 yards passing with two scores and 26 yards rushing could have netted him a trophy here. However, voters went with linebacker Malcolm Smith, who had 10 tackles, a forced fumble, and an interception return for a touchdown. Smith was an unlisted option, which means that a field bet was a winner in this Super Bowl.
Super Bowl XLVII Ravens 34, 49ers 31
Ravens QB Joe Flacco
This game breached 60 total points, and Joe Flacco’s 287 yards passing and three touchdowns edged Anquan Boldin’s 6-104-1 performance. If San Francisco scores on its late goal-to-go drive, quarterback Colin Kaepernick likely wins the MVP behind his 302 yards passing and a score paired with his 62 yards rushing and another touchdown.
Super Bowl XLVI Giants 21, Patriots 17
Giants QB Eli Manning
Eli should have been the MVP (30-of-40 passing for 296 yards and a score). However, Justin Tuck had two sacks as part of a Giants defense that held Tom Brady’s offense below 20 points for the second time in the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl XLV Packers 31, Steelers 25
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers was the runaway MVP winner (304 yards passing, three touchdowns), with Jordan Nelson’s 9-140-1 line serving as Rodgers' most significant competition.
Super Bowl XLIV Saints 31, Colts 17
Saints QB Drew Brees
A late pick-six by Saints cornerback Tracy Porter sealed what was an otherwise tightly contested matchup between two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Either Brees or Colts quarterback Peyton Manning were in the position to take home the MVP.
Super Bowl XLIII Steelers 27, Cardinals 23
Steelers WR Santonio Holmes
This was a close game that had a number of MVP-worthy performances. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had a middling 256 yards passing with a touchdown and an interception, but Holmes had nine receptions for 131 yards and a score. That toe-tap TD is the most memorable moment in this contest for many. James Harrison’s 100-yard interception return was the biggest and most impactful play, but Holmes had a better overall game in a contest that reached 50 total points. If the Cardinals won, Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald had monster games. It would have been interesting to see which Cardinal would have won the MVP in that scenario.
Super Bowl XLII Giants 17, Patriots 14
Giants QB Eli Manning
Justin Tuck had two sacks, six tackles, and a forced fumble. He could have won the MVP as the representative of a Giants pass rush that primarily won this game. But Eli Manning had a solid game while orchestrating a late, gaming-winning drive against the undefeated Patriots.
Super Bowl XLI Colts 29, Bears 17
Colts QB Peyton Manning
No one had a monster game statistically. However, Manning’s artistry against a Chicago Bears defense that allowed nothing but underneath throws and tight windows is one of the reasons that I analyze football the way that I do.
Super Bowl XL Steelers 21, Seahawks 10
Steelers WR Hines Ward
Ben Roethlisberger only had 123 yards passing with two interceptions in this contest. Hines Ward had five receptions for 123 yards, which included a 43-yard touchdown pass from fellow wide receiver Antwaan Randle El. The Steelers' defense was the driving force behind this win, but no Pittsburgh defender made enough splash plays to overcome Ward for the MVP.
Super Bowl XXXIX Patriots 24, Eagles 21
Patriots WR Deion Branch
Tom Brady threw for 236 yards passing and two scores, which is more than some other Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks have produced. However, Branch accounted for more than half of the Patriots' yards in the passing game. Branch also had a similarly big game in the Super Bowl the season before, which might have added a layer of “he deserves it” given Brady’s good, but not quite great, performance in this matchup.
Super Bowl XXXVIII Patriots 32, Panthers 29
Patriots QB Tom Brady
This game exceeded 60 total points, and both quarterbacks exceeded 300 yards passing while throwing for three touchdowns a piece. Carolina Panthers wide receiver Mushin Muhammad and Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch had at least 140 yards receiving with a score.
Super Bowl XXXVII Buccaneers 48, Raiders 21
Bucs Safety Dexter Jackson
This Super Bowl had an abnormal game script, as the Buccaneers routed the Raiders while scoring multiple times on defense. Buccaneers star linebacker Derrick Brooks returned an interception for a score, while safety Dwight Smith picked off two passes that he returned for scores. The second of Smith’s pick-sixes came with just seconds left in the contest, making it the king of all garbage-time defensive scores. Both of Dexter Jackson’s interceptions came in the first half, which gave him the edge with MVP voters.
Super Bowl XXXVI Patriots 20, Rams 17
Patriots QB Tom Brady
Brady didn’t light up the box score in this contest, but he did orchestrate a late, game-winning drive. Patriots’ cornerback Ty Law’s interception return for a touchdown served as Brady’s biggest challenger for MVP honors.
Super Bowl XXXV Ravens 34, Giants 7
Ravens Linebacker Ray Lewis
The Ravens blew the doors off the overmatched Giants in this contest. A number of Ravens players had good, but not quite great, games. Lewis was the face of the Ravens’ defense, and he defended four passes in this contest, giving him the edge with MVP voters.
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