Betting on NFL Comeback Player of the Year

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

By: Zach Herbaugh

There are seven main awards given annually at the NFL Honors ceremony: Most Valuable Player, Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Offensive Rookie of the Year, Defensive Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, and Comeback Player of the Year (CPOY). This year’s odds on favorite to win CPOY is Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and we are going to explain to you why it’s smart to bet on him to bring home the award.

CPOY is not often given the notoriety of the other NFL awards. The CPOY award was first developed in 1963. However, the award was nixed after the 1967 season and was not given out again until Doug Flutie won the award in 1998. CPOY is typically awarded to a player who has “shown perseverance in overcoming adversity”. Perseverance is often categorized by overcoming a season-ending injury, a suspension, or a previously poor season. The award did gain some traction and became a more popularized award after Eric Berry won the award in 2015 after defeating cancer the previous season.

Of the 31 CPOY award winners, 15 have been a quarterback. Ryan Tannehill, the quarterback for the Tenessee Titans, won the award in 2019 after overcoming an ACL tear in 2017 and replacing Marcus Mariota in week 7. Tannehill ended up leading the Titans to the AFC Championship game and was the quintessential candidate to take home the CPOY award. With Roethlisberger coming off a season-ending injury in 2019, he is primed to take home the award in 2020.

Here are the current odds to win CPOY per Draftkings Sportsbook:

As you can see, Roethlisberger has the best odds at +350 (a bet of $100 dollars would win $35o). Below are 5 reasons why you should bet on Roethlisberger to win the award:

  1. As previously stated, a quarterback has won the award almost half the time. Betting on a quarterback alone would be advantageous to winning money, but a quarterback of Roethlisberger’s statue and reputation almost makes it a no-brainer. Quarterbacks have become the most popularized position in the NFL and Roethlisberger is a polarizing and well-known name among NFL fans. Other big-name quarterbacks like Tom Brady (2009), Peyton Manning (2012), Philip Rivers (2013), and Andrew Luck (2018) all won the award coming off a season-ending injury the previous season. Not only would it make sense for a quarterback to win the award again in 2020, but Roethlisberger’s situation plays right into the typical CPOY storyline.
  2. Roethlisberger was still playing at an All-Pro level prior to his injury. Take away the six quarters Roethlisberger played in 2019 and look back at the last time Roethlisberger was healthy in 2018. He not only set career highs in completions (452), yards (5,129), and YPG (320.6), but he led the NFL in each of those respective categories as well. He also threw for a career-high 34 TD’s in 2018 and was playing arguably the best football of his career. Steelers general manager, Kevin Colbert has already gone on record stating he thinks Roethlisberger “can be better than he was before the injury”. Even if Roethlisberger can be 80% of what he was in 2018, look for him to be the front-runner for CPOY.
  3. There is very little competition for the award. Yes, Rob Grownkowski has almost identical odds at +400, but this is a simple “Vegas hype” that puts the odds at a lot higher than what they should actually be. Grownkowski has already won the award once, so there is a smaller likelihood he would be awarded it again. He also voluntarily left football after the 2018 season, so it is unlikely voters will believe he overcame a lot of “perseverance” to be considered for the award. Lastly, Grownkowski is likely to be a third or fourth option in Tampa Bay. Yes, he has a track-record with Brady, but with top players like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and O.J. Howard it’s hard to see Grownkowski surpassing more than an average season. Other top candidates such as Alex Smith and Matthew Stafford seem to fit the mold of the prototypical CPOY awardee. However, after Smith’s gruesome leg injury and the Washington Redskins drafting their future quarterback in Dwayne Haskins, it’s hard to believe Smith will ever take a snap for the Redskins again. Stafford, on the other hand, has never been considered an elite quarterback and hardly ever receives national recognition. Since Stafford entered the league in 2009, he’s only made one Pro Bowl and has a career win percentage of .463%. Stafford is likely to play at the same average level that he was playing at before his injury, which is why his odds are so much higher (+700) in comparison to Roethlisberger.
  4. Roethlisberger has not won a national award since winning Rookie of the Year in 2004. It is hard to believe that throughout Roethlisberger’s historic career, he has not been recognized more frequently by the national media. He has played at an elite level for over 15 years, but it always seems that he has been outplayed by one or two quarterbacks each year. Roethlisberger certainly should be mentioned with the greatest of all-time and it’s time that he gets the national recognition that he deserves.
  5. The hype around Roethlisberger’s return is extremely high. The Steelers defense was regarded as one of the best in NFL and got better in the off-season. The only thing hindering the Steelers from a Super Bowl run last year was poor quarterback play. Now, with the return of Roethlisberger, the Steelers are a legitimate Super Bowl contender and multiple national media outlets agree. Sure, there is a lot of things that can happen between now and February, but if Roethlisberger can come back and play at the elite level he is capable of, then he will likely be hoisting a Lombardy alongside his CPOY trophy.

Future sports betting can be a risky, but rewarding process. It is hard to predict what will happen over the course of a 16 game season, but Roethlisberger is primed to have a great 2020 season. So, bet at your own risk, but look for Roethlisberger to win the CPOY award this season.

What are realistic expectations for Roethlisberger in 2020? Can he be better than he was in 2018? Sound off in the comments below!


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