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All of a sudden, everyone loves Mac Jones.
When Cam Newton was cut on Tuesday by the New England Patriots, Jones went from a rookie battling for a starting spot to the second-best odds at BetMGM to win NFL offensive rookie of the year. He is +500 to win offensive rookie of the year after getting the job. He was +1200 before that.
When Jones was +1000, one bettor went to Borgata and put $2,000 on Jones to win $20,000. Then the odds dropped even more.
Was the odds shift justified?
Mac Jones shoots up the list
Like any other award, if voters can pick a quarterback for rookie of the year that's what they're going to do. And there are plenty of quarterbacks this season.
Here are the five favorites to win offensive rookie of the year at BetMGM. They're the five quarterbacks drafted in the first round:
Trevor Lawrence +350
Justin Fields +700
Trey Lance +750
Zach Wilson +900
There is an argument for Jones. Unlike Lance and Fields, he has the job from Week 1 on. He plays on a much better team than Lawrence or Wilson, and voters are captivated by wins. Jones had a fantastic preseason and seems very comfortable running the Patriots' quick-strike offense. He might be the fifth-best quarterback in the class, but he'll get votes if he's the quarterback of a Patriots team that makes the playoffs. It doesn't really even matter that much how well he plays. Again, voters like wins, even if they're not earned by individuals.
If you like Jones to win the award, there are good reasons. But it's not like he won't have competition.
Which rookie QB has best shot to win?
Here's where handicapping awards can be frustrating. There's no good reason to believe Jones is better than Wilson, but Wilson's odds are almost twice as long.
Wilson was the second pick, has looked great all preseason and like Jones, he'll start from Week 1 on. Wilson doesn't have the supporting cast that Jones does, but the Jets' offensive lineup is probably better than it gets credit for. Wilson is the superior player and could put up better numbers, but he is very unlikely to be on a team that wins more games. That's why the odds are what they are.
I'd still look at Lawrence to win the award. He's the first pick, he has good players to throw to, the Jaguars will be in plenty of games in which he has to throw a lot and he's been hyped for years. He's already a brand name and that helps. I don't trust Urban Meyer yet, but I do trust Lawrence to play well.
Lance and Fields are interesting because once they get the respective jobs, they could play very well. They're both more talented than Jones too, but in worse situations and will lose volume the longer their teams stick with veteran starters. It's unlikely all five rookie quarterbacks have great seasons, but it's hard to make an argument against any of them. You can make a good case for any of the five winning offensive rookie of the year.
Jones' odds got a bump with Tuesday's news of Newton's release. It should be a heck of a race, with plenty of bets on all five favorites.