Upcoming Match-ups

Alex Smith Becomes Odds-On Favorite to Win NFL Comeback Player of the Year After Taking First Snap Since 2018

Blair Johnson

by Blair Johnson in NFL Football

Updated Mar 9, 2021 · 1:33 PM PST

Washington Football Team
Washington Football Team's Alex Smith (11) plays during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)
  • Alex Smith has become the heavy favorite at -330 to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year After Taking First Snap Since 2018
  • Smith’s injury required 17 surgeries and he also faced a life-threatening infection
  • Ben Roethisberger and Cam Newton are second-favorites at +420 – read below to see our betting prediction

Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith skyrocketed to the top of the odds board for NFL Comeback Player of the Year after taking his first regular season game snap since 2018 in a Week 5 30-10 loss to the Rams. Smith suffered a catastrophic right leg injury against Houston two years ago that required 17 surgeries and nearly cost him his life after contracting sepsis.

Smith is now the heavy favorite to win the award at -330 for essentially getting back on the field, no matter his performance. Meanwhile, second-favorites Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Patriots quarterback Cam Newton have also rebounded from various injuries — though none as serious as Smith’s — and enjoyed team success that Washington has not.

2020 NFL Comeback Player of the Year Odds

Player (Team) Odds
Alex Smith (Washington) -330
Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers) +420
Cam Newton (Patriots) +420
Aldon Smith (Cowboys) +1400
JJ Watt (Texans) +2000

Odds taken Oct. 12 at FanDuel

Smith’s miraculous comeback already has some NFL analysts saying the race is over.

The 16-year NFL veteran’s battle back from not only 17 surgeries, but sepsis — which not only nearly required amputation of his right leg but nearly cost Smith his life — is an utterly amazing story.

It was back on Nov. 18 during Week 10 of the 2018 season when Smith’s life changed forever.

YouTube video

Smith’s spiral and compound fracture of his right tibia and fibula was compared to Joe Theismann’s infamous injury on Monday Night Football back in 1985 — which cost Theismann his career. But Smith’s situation was worse. He later suffered that infection which doctors feared would require amputation and, if it continued, would kill him.

But, with the blessing of his family, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft fought back. Smith started the year completely off the board. Then, in July, he was at +1400 when it became a realistic possibility he might make the active roster. He became co-favorite to win Comeback Player of the Year award (at +300) when he was cleared to play two months ago. Then, with the early season play of Big Ben and Cam, Smith saw his status drop a bit in the last month to +850. Now, he’s the heavy favorite at -330.

Should he be? We handicap the field and make a prediction.

Emotional Scene

The images from FedEx Field Sunday will stay with sports fans forever.

After the game, Smith said it was good he didn’t have time to think about going in following Kyle Allen’s injury in the second quarter. LA’s pass rush was fierce (Aaron Donald had four sacks) and the weather was uncooperative. But Smith’s numbers were far from spectacular. completing just 9-of-17 passes for 37 yards, with a passer rating of 58.7. And, oh yeah, Washington lost 30-10 to drop to 1-4.

Yes, the performance even prompted a fairly well-known resident of Washington to chime in on social media.

But head coach Ron Rivera reiterated Monday Allen is the starting quarterback if he’s healthy. It was a heartwarming a story Sunday. But if Smith doesn’t play again this season, I’m not sure he’s deserving of this award.

Wrong Guy Favored

Not to be callous — but simply put, the wrong guy is favored. This award is a cumulative one — based on performance over the course of a season. And the way things are going for Roethlisberger so far in Pittsburgh, this is his award to lose. He wasn’t too bad in a 38-29 win over the Eagles in Week 5.

The future Hall of Famer has already made history, coming back from an elbow injury on his throwing arm no quarterback has ever rebounded from.

He told reporters in early August it was beyond even Tommy John surgery, something baseball pitchers get. No, this involved tears in three of the five flexor tendons in the joint. Think about that. Big Ben as already amassed over 1,000 passing yards in four games, while completing nearly 70% of his throws with 10 touchdown passes and only one interception. And the Steelers are undefeated.

What About Cam?

There’s also a significant case to be made for the 2015 NFL MVP. Newton has New England off to a 2-1 start — and darn near beat 2020 MVP favorite Russell Wilson in Seattle during Week 2. He’s already had plenty of highlights.

Newton is coming back from a Lisfranc foot sprain that cost him virtually all of the 2019 season. Now, he’s battling the coronavirus. If Newton rebounds from COVID and his most recent injury? That’s like a comeback within a comeback. If New England continues to win with Newton leading the way, the former face of the Panthers franchise needs to garner considerable attention.

Smith’s narrative is better than a Hollywood script. But what if the Steelers finish 12-4 and Roethlisberger is the reason why? Or how about Newton making New England fans asking, “Tom who?”

I’m fading Smith — certainly at this price — and investing in Big Ben.

Author Image