Everything at stake for bettors, sportsbooks at 2024 NFL Honors

On Thursday night, several elite players and coaches from the NFL's 2023-24 season will be in attendance at the NFL Honors as the league hands out its most coveted awards. The night also holds significance for many bettors who have been holding on to tickets for months.

This season, the betting public was largely in tune with the narratives that go into picking the award winners. Making these lines is difficult for sportsbooks, especially early in the season, said DraftKings director of race & sportsbook operations Johnny Avello, so bookmakers are sometimes okay with the public pulling off victories in the futures markets.

"They do have a good gut feeling on where some of this stuff would go," Avello told ESPN. "Some of the categories, they're stronger than others. And as long as we can win our share of them, that's all that matters."

With that said, here is a rundown on what is at stake for the betting world heading into Thursday night.

Most Valuable Player

Lamar Jackson closed at -10000 to take home his second MVP honor Thursday at ESPN BET, solidified by the fact that the 27-year-old was named a first-team All-Pro and the previous 10 first-team All-Pro QBs also won MVP, per ESPN Stats & Information.

However, Jackson's nearly guaranteed status didn't emerge until late in the season: The Ravens signal-caller opened the season at 14-1 to win the award and was as long as 20-1 ahead of Week 7. He didn't become the odds-on favorite until Week 17, when he emerged from the week with -180 odds to win MVP.

As a result of the tight MVP race, which included the likes of Josh Allen, Dak Prescott and Brock Purdy, the betting public had several opportunities to grab Jackson at plus money.

BetMGM manager of trading Christian Cipollini said that Jackson is their biggest liability. He controlled 23.3% of the handle, though Christian McCaffrey was apparently not far behind. DraftKings took 8% of bets and 16% of handle on Jackson, but does not see him winning MVP as a loss for the book.

"For us, this actually turns out to be a good result," Avello said. "He was never that high in the odds and the bettors took chances in other areas."

Jackson took just 6% of the tickets at ESPN BET, tied with or less than the other MVP finalists, like Tyreek Hill (15%), Jalen Hurts (8%) and C.J. Stroud (7%).

Offensive Player of the Year

A two-man race between McCaffrey and Hill created several high-value opportunities for bettors in what is likely a loss for the books.

McCaffrey attracted 16% of the bets at ESPN BET, closing at -350 odds, the most of any player and 2% more than Hill. At BetMGM, the 49ers running back led the field in tickets (13.8%), but the Dolphins wide receiver led in handle (29%).

However, at DraftKings, the duo combined for 59% of the handle. At FanDuel, that number inched to 60%.

Both Avello and Cipollini conceded that neither McCaffrey nor Hill winning is a good result for the book, with the former being the worst-case scenario.

Defensive Player of the Year

This award was a bit more competitive than its offensive counterpart, with Myles Garrett (-275), Micah Parsons (+350) and T.J. Watt (+450) finishing as the favorites. That created a more winnable scenario for the sportsbooks, though it wasn't perfect.

Garrett collected the second-most tickets at ESPN BET (18%), DraftKings (15%) and BetMGM (14.2%), with Watt picking up the most bets at the former two (23% and 16%, respectively).

That created decently significant liability on the Browns defensive end, but Avello described it as "not horrible."

"We had some really good balanced action," Avello said. "You don't mind going in with a couple of guys that have a chance, and maybe two of those guys working for the book and one being a loser."

BetMGM, on the other hand, was mostly bailed out by fans in Detroit, where the book has a solid presence. Aidan Hutchinson attracted the most tickets at 14.3% and, therefore, became the book's biggest liability; the Michigan native is not a finalist for DPOY.

Coach of the Year

This ended up being one of the most fascinating races of the entire awards cycle from a betting perspective.

Dan Campbell opened the season as the favorite at around a consensus +900. With the Lions playing some of their best football in franchise history, he managed to maintain that favorite status and saw significant line movement, coming as short as +125 at some shops.

Campbell, therefore, drew a ton of action from the betting public, with ESPN BET (36%), BetMGM (34.8%) and DraftKings (24%) all reporting him as their most-bet candidate.

However, something interesting happened towards the end of the season: With the Lions losing a few key games down the stretch and Campbell's decision-making coming into question, Kevin Stefanski and DeMeco Ryans suddenly pulled ahead of Campbell in the betting odds.

"Stefanski winning games with four different quarterbacks helped his case," Cipollini said. "DeMeco Ryans taking the Texans from 'worst to first' in the division with a rookie quarterback improved Ryans' odds to win COTY down the stretch."

While the books, of course, took some action on the Browns and Texans coaches, it was nowhere near what they saw for Campbell. Stefanski seems poised to ultimately win the award, closing as the -900 favorite at ESPN BET.

Offensive Rookie of the Year

The betting action to predict the league's best offensive rookie ultimately came down to a race to the quarterback.

As highly drafted, exciting prospects, Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs both attracted a noteworthy amount of action with some of the shortest opening odds. At BetMGM, Robinson was both the opening odds leader (+300) and had the highest handle (20.6%), but it was Gibbs that got the most tickets (27.3%) and ended up being the book's biggest liability.

Once the rubber hit the road, however, the numbers adjusted dramatically. For one, Puka Nacua came out of nowhere to be one of the best receivers in the league, and first appeared on odds boards around Week 3. He then got significant looks from the betting public, including a whopping 35% of tickets at ESPN BET.

However, it became clear within a few weeks that a different player was going to run away with the award. By Week 6, Stroud went on a tear and became the odds-on favorite, never looking back.

"We tried to stay ahead of him on this one," Avello said. "We kept adjusting the line, putting it where we should have been, knowing that the bets were coming in and they continued to come in. There was just no stopping them on this guy. It became a price that was ridiculous to even bet him."

Try as they might, DraftKings considers Stroud's inevitable win as not a win or loss, but about a "break even."

It may have been even better for the other books: BetMGM says Stroud was its fourth-biggest liability for this award with 8.4% of the bets and 18.6% of the handle, while ESPN BET saw only 4% of bets on the Texans standout.