2011 Super Bowl XLV (45) Prop Bet: The Super Bowl MVP

Leading up to the 2011 Super Bowl XLV (45) between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers, we'll be taking a look at Super Bowl proposition betting, or more specifically, the fun or funny Super Bowl 45 (XLV) prop bets that you hear so much about. That includes props on the Super Bowl coin toss, Super Bowl halftime show, Super Bowl National Anthem, Super Bowl postgame Gatorade Shower dump and much more. Follow along on the Super Bowl sidebar to the right!

We take a slight break from the goofy prop bets to look at a more standard option--the 2011 Super Bowl XLV (45) MVP.

Who will win the Super Bowl MVP?

Aaron Rodgers 7/4
James Starks 14/1
Brandon Jackson 50/1
Greg Jennings 12/1
Donald Driver 25/1
James Jones 30/1
Jordy Nelson 30/1
A.J. Hawk 30/1
Clay Matthews 18/1
B.J. Raji 30/1
Cullen Jenkins 50/1
Tramon Williams 25/1
Charles Woodson 20/1
Sam Shields 35/1

Ben Roethlisberger 7/2
Rashard Mendenhall 15/2
Mike Wallace 16/1
Hines Ward 25/1
Emmanuel Sanders 35/1
Heath Miller 25/1
Troy Polamalu 15/1
James Harrison 22/1
James Farrior 28/1
Lawrence Timmons 28/1

Field 15/1

Before determining who will win the Most Valuable Player Award in the Super Bowl, you must first decide your pick to win the game--the Packers or Steelers. The losing team simply will not have a player win the MVP--as has happened once in 1971 when Chuck Howley of the Cowboys won the award despite a loss the Colts in Super Bowl V (5). Howley refused to even accept the award, which he found meaningless after the loss, so you can bank on that result never happening again.

When you make your pick for the eventual Super Bowl champion, you can eliminate half of your above options for the MVP. Beyond that, it gets tricky, but you can narrow it down to an educated guess.

For example, like the Super Bowl coin toss prop bet, we are essentially dealing with a 50/50 proposition here--a quarterback has won the award 52% of the time (23/44). However, when the Steelers have been in the Super Bowl, only Terry Bradshaws back-to-back MVPs have been won by a quarterback, giving them just a 33% historical chance at a QB (2/6) winning the award. The Packers, thanks to Bart Starr's back-to-back awards, are 67% (2/3).

Most importantly from the above figures is that Ben Roethlisberger has not won the award. In the Steelers past two Super Bowls, his receivers Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward, respectively, have won the award. Given that he has not won it, and given the tendency to automatically give the QB the award (Peyton Manning over Dominic Rhodes in Super Bowl XLI is evidence of that), we like Roethlisberger's odds of 7/2. Like the previous Super Bowl winning QB in Pittsburgh, Terry Bradshaw, two position players have won the award in his first two cracks, but we anticipate the third time being the charm should the Steelers defeat the Packers.

If we had to make a wild card selection for the Steelers (aka not a QB), we would say Rashard Mendenhall. Mendenhall ran tough throughout the playoffs and looks determined to get a ring as a member of the active roster (unlike in Super Bowl XLIII when he was injured; not sure whether or not he was included in the team photo). Getting 15/2 odds isn't bad for the running back, though an RB has not won since Terrell Davis in Super Bowl XXXII (32).

As for the Packers, the fact that they are favored to win means that Aaron Rodgers' odds (7/4) are slightly better than Roethlisberger's, and he will rightfully be a popular pick for the Super Bowl MVP should the Packers win it all. Otherwise, keep an eye on Greg Jennings at 12/1, or even some of his other targets. The way the Packers throw the ball it is far more likely that a WR win the award rather than a RB.

While both teams have good defenses and could potentially have a defensive player win the award (Sam Shields or B.J. Raji likely would have captured the award in the NFC Championship game, if one were given), a defender typically has to make multiple big plays in order to win the award, and even then it is rare.

Only eight defensive players in total (including co-MVPs in Super Bowl XII) have won the Super Bowl MVP, as well as one special teams player--Packer fans might remember Desmond Howard's big returns making him the MVP of Super Bowl XXXI (31), surprisingly over Brett Favre and his three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing).

While it can happen, this is again about making as educated a bet as possible. Some names are thrown on the list of potential MVPs (such as Brandon Jackson at 50/1) simply to entice the loads of public money on some unlikely players. Stray from the random bets and stick with what we know. In theory, if quarterbacks win the award about 50 percent of the time, and there are two quarterbacks in the game, our math gives us just over a 25 percent chance on either QB choice.

So whether you like the Packers or Steelers to win the game, expect Aaron Rodgers or Ben Roethlisberger to take this year's MVP. The quarterback play is simply too good in this one to pass up.

Thursday is the big day when many books release the official numbers on some of the standard props--as well as bucket load of funny proposition bets. Check back tomorrow for our take on some of the whackier prop bets of 2011 Super Bowl XLV (45).