2021 NFL MVP favorites and tiers: 237 players who could win, led by Patrick Mahomes, Kyler Murray, Dak Prescott

MVP winners don't always come from obvious places. On one hand, you could argue that the Associated Press' MVP pick in 2021 will probably be a quarterback, and chances are that you'll be right. On the other, think about the past two winners and what their situations looked like heading into their award-winning years.

Lamar Jackson had just been shut down by the Chargers in the 2018 playoffs, and there were people who believed that the Ravens star's rookie season was just a flash in the pan. Jackson then threw five touchdown passes against the Dolphins in the 2019 season opener and was an easy MVP pick by the end of the year.

Last season, of course, the Packers were seemingly preparing to move on from Aaron Rodgers after they picked Jordan Love in Round 1 of the 2020 draft. Rodgers was a two-time MVP and a future Hall of Famer, but it looked like he had transitioned into a low-risk, low-reward quarterback in his late-30s. Despite Green Bay failing to add significant help for Rodgers last offseason, however, he leveled up and threw 49 touchdown passes in an incredible campaign, claiming his third MVP award in the process.

Who will be the MVP in 2021? Let's use history to provide a list of plausible candidates for the nod. Doing so requires more names than you might think. If we solely go off the players who have won the AP's MVP award in prior years and use their archetypes to identify candidates in 2021, you have to name 237 players as possible options. If that seems ridiculous, well, read on and you'll understand why it's not.

I've split the candidates up into nine groups. With each group, I'll explain how and why they've produced an MVP candidate and identify both a favorite and a player who is far less likely to take home the trophy. I'll start with the most likely group of winners and work my way toward the least plausible options.