Winning the NFL MVP is a prestigious personal accomplishment, but lately at least, the award has been cursed.
If a player wins the MVP, which is typically announced a few days before the Super Bowl, their team does not win the Lombardi Trophy – it’s happened to the last nine MVPs who made it to the finals. That’s some dark magic.
Super Bowl 57 between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs will be influenced by the MVP curse again this year, as Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes seems very likely to win the award.
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What is The NFL MVP Curse?
I’m a believer of “show, don’t tell.” The chart can do the talking for me.
Last 10 NFL MVP Winners
|2021||QB Aaron Rodgers (GB)|
|2020||QB Aaron Rodgers (GB)|
|2019||QB Lamar Jackson (BAL)|
|2018||QB Patrick Mahomes (KC)|
|2017||QB Tom Brady (NE)*|
|2016||QB Matt Ryan (ATL)*|
|2015||QB Cam Newton (CAR)*|
|2014||QB Aaron Rodgers (GB)|
|2013||QB Peyton Manning (DEN)*|
|2012||RB Adrian Peterson (MIN)|
*Team made it to Super Bowl but didn’t win
In the last 10 years, four NFL MVPs have made the Super Bowl, and four NFL MVPs have left broken-hearted. The hex extends beyond 10 years, though, as Kurt Warner was the last NFL MVP to win a Super Bowl, doing so with the St. Louis Rams in 1999.
Funny enough, even Warner wasn’t immune to the curse after that. Warner won the MVP again in 2001, but his Rams lost to the New England Patriots that same season, giving Tom Brady his first Super Bowl ring.
After Warner’s loss, Rich Gannon (Raiders, 2002), Shaun Alexander (Seahawks, 2005), Brady (Patriots, 2009) and Peyton Manning (Broncos, 2013) all fell short. The rest of the MVP losers are viewable in the chart above.
Notable MVP Losses in the Super Bowl
Many MVPs have come close since 1999.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons, Super Bowl 51
Hello, darkness. It’s been a while. I’m sorry, Falcons fans, but the curse was too strong during Super Bowl 51. The NFL MVP curse was so strong, it dismantled quarterback Matt Ryan and his nearly 5,000-yard regular season. In the Super Bowl game itself, Ryan’s Falcons coughed up a 28-3 lead midway through the third quarter and lost the contest in overtime.
Bad Beat Rewind ⚡️— br_betting (@br_betting) January 31, 2023
Super Bowl 51 will never be forgotten by anyone with money on the Falcons 😅 pic.twitter.com/4XJetzm2QQ
Of course, it’s equally possible Brady’s ungodly gifts lifted New England to the most thrilling comeback in Super Bowl history. Either way, this 34-28 Patriots win is the best example of the MVP curse in action.
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos, Super Bowl 48
In his 17-year career, the elder Manning finished high on MVPs (5) and short on Super Bowl rings (2). Super Bowl 48 was a good example of the MVP curse dragging down one of football’s greatest signal-callers.
That year, Manning set the record for single-season passing yards (5,477) and single-season touchdown passes (55) while his Broncos cruised to a 13-3 regular season. The squad hit a brick wall in the Super Bowl, though, as the first snap of the game went over Manning’s head and into the end zone for a safety. The Seattle Seahawks went on to an easy victory, clobbering the Broncos 43-8.
Manning avenged his loss two years later at Super Bowl 50. The 39-year-old got carried by Denver’s defense that year and defeated Cam Newton (who suffered the MVP curse that season) and the Carolina Panthers 24-10.
How Does The Curse Apply To Super Bowl 57?
Yes, yes, let’s push this forward. Why should we be concerned about the MVP curse at Super Bowl 57? Let’s assume Mahomes wins the award. Is he now in trouble? The 27-year-old has been to two Super Bowls already (54, 55) and come out victorious on one occasion.
At Super Bowl 54 against the San Francisco 49ers, Mahomes was shaky, completing just 26 of 42 passes for 286 yards with two touchdowns, two picks and two fumbles. Luckily, the Chiefs won that game. A year later, at Super Bowl 55, Mahomes had less luck, throwing two interceptions and taking three sacks from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense.
All to say, Mahomes’ Super Bowl performances have been less than stellar, at least by his lofty standards. This year, Kansas City faces a deadly Eagles pass rush that finished with 70 sacks this year, the third most of all time. I’m expecting the pressure to turn into multiple sacks and at least one interception.
In the end, I’m hesitant to bet against the curse, which is why I’ll be fading Mahomes on February 12. If you feel strongly about fading or backing Mahomes, check out our NFL Super Bowl props page as we get closer to Super Bowl 57. Once the odds are out, you can tail my picks (if you’re also a genius) on Mahomes’ inevitable shortcomings in the biggest game of the year.
How is The NFL MVP Awarded?
The NFL MVP is presented annually by the Associated Press. The award is voted on by 50 sportswriters at the end of the regular season.
This year, the award will be presented at the NFL Honors show, which takes place February 9 in Phoenix. NBC and the NFL Network will host the show while Kelly Clarkson will serve as the host.