As festive football approaches, Christian McCaffrey has his eye on a sensational end to a stunning season for the San Francisco 49ers.
With Week 15 of the 2023 NFL season in the books, head coach Kyle Shanahan is looking to guide his Santa Clara side to a second NFC Championship in five years and erase 2019 Super Bowl woe.
The Niners’ chances of doing so at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas come February, are looking oh so healthy.
Boasting an offense as versatile and electric as any in the NFL, SF could finally seal a first Super Bowl title in almost three decades, but could CMC sweeten the pot with an unlikely but merited MVP?
Since his mid-season switch from Carolina last term – oh how Panthers’ GM Scott Fitterer must be gritting his teeth at that call – the 27-year from Colorado has been a revelation at Levi Stadium.
This term has underlined his Golden-Gated credentials, putting behind him many a season of injury woe in Charlotte, now, the top of many a props bet on any given Sunday.
McCaffrey is thus far the only RB to rush over 1,000 yards this term and is second in TDs alone to the Dolphins’ Raheem Mostert – who again grabbed another brace on Sunday.
Kyle Shanahan says Christian McCaffrey never wants to be taken out of the game because of all the time he missed with injuries
“That’s what’s cool about him. He wants to prove everybody wrong all the time, and he’s usually right.” pic.twitter.com/ZlzJnVndts
— KNBR (@KNBR) December 18, 2023
More recently, McCaffrey has proven his growing versatility by adding seven receiving TDs – now tying Seahawks’ WR DK Metcalf, in receiving TDs alone – from just 57 carries for 507 yds.
In Week 4 of this season, the Stanford collegiate broke Jerry Rice’s franchise record against Arizona with a 13th-consecutive TD game.
The records have tumbled this season for CMC, so could he yet thrown his name into the hat for MVP?
In the last decade, quarterbacks have ruled the MVP post-season roost, indeed, the last player other than a QB to win the coveted prize was Adrian Peterson in 2012.
Eleven years back, the Minnesota Vikings’ RB reached 2,000 rushing yds – the second-most of any player in a single NFL season in history.
McCaffrey may be some way off that, but his all-round contribution to the 49ers offense has been irreplaceable.
In Week 6, when McCaffrey sustained an oblique injury at home to Cleveland mid-game, CMC was forced out.
Not only did it force a shock Browns win in California, McCaffrey was at limited capacity for the following two games, rushing just 45 and 54 yds in back-to-back losses.
His return to relative health, has sparked the Niners back into life, now, notching a sixth win on the spin at Arizona this past Sunday.
Rushing for over 100 yds for the sixth time this season, McCaffrey notched a second hat-trick of TDs.
If the Niners reach Las Vegas and Super Bowl LVIII, McCaffrey has the numbers to sway the argument, and in a tight contest on the Strip in February, CMC could be the difference.
A 33/1 shot before Week 15, McCaffrey is now halved in price with many bookies, at a best 16/1 with BetUK.
McCaffrey is currently fifth-favourite in the markets to be named MVP – after the latest Jalen Hurts no-show – but he battles a powerhouse quartet, including his own QB, Brock Purdy.
In just his second season, the 23-year-old from Iowa State has evolved from a promising rookie to a potential NFL great.
Purdy (29 TDs, 3,795 yds) is favourite to take the prize if SF finally end their 29-year Championship drought, but Dak Prescott could yet stand in the way.
The Dallas Cowboys are 7-0 in Arlington this season, however, as they showed at the Bills this past weekend, the Boys’ are far less certain on the road. That could harm Dak’s chances significantly.
As the hopes of one QB might be fading, both Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen could yet storm the party, with the Ravens a good shot to finish top seed, and Allen’s resurgent Buffalo side becoming something of a dark horse.
One final left-field pick, Tyreek Hill has enjoyed his best term to date in Miami, and having notched 1,542 receiving yds and 12 TDs for just 97 receptions so far, the Cheetah might yet go close to becoming the first player to go past 2,000 yds.
Unfortunately for Hill, his ankle injury picked up against the Titans in Week 14, saw him on the touchlines only in the squash of the Jets.
Hill will need another 458 yds combined versus the Cowboys, Ravens and Bills but if the ‘Fins did make it to Sin City, has Tua Tagovailoa done enough to scoop the prize?
The answer to that is arguably, no, and as such, Hill as a 30/1 punt with Unibet might yet look shrewd.