There is still about 30 percent of the NFL regular season to go, so the MVP race could change dramatically before the votes come in. And there are decent arguments to be made for more than a few players.
But if we’re being realistic, only two players are in the race right now: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. Whoever is No. 3 is far behind at this point.
Who has the lead with five weeks to go? It’s a fun debate. First, here are the main statistics for each:
Brady: 279-of-408 (68.4 percent), 3,374 yards, 26 touchdowns, three interceptions, 111.7 rating
Wentz: 213-of-354 (60.2 percent), 2,657 yards, 28 touchdowns, five interceptions, 104 rating (also 253 rushing yards)
If you’re going to make an argument for Wentz, it’s probably centered around his supporting cast and the surprise factor. The Eagles are an NFL-best 10-1 this season, and Wentz is a huge reason. Philadelphia had back-to-back 7-9 seasons before Wentz emerged as a star this season. While Philadelphia upgraded its offense this offseason, the Eagles don’t have the same talent New England does. Wentz doesn’t have the best coaching staff in the NFL either.
Wentz has been fantastic and deserving of an MVP. But right now, he’s clearly No. 2.
Brady’s numbers since coming off his deflate-gate suspension are astounding. He has 54 touchdowns and five interceptions in 23 games. He has 301.2 yards per game and a 111.9 rating. Before 2016 Brady had reached eight yards per attempt in a season twice. He averaged 8.2 yards per attempt last season and 8.3 this season, at 39 and 40 years old. Many people (myself included) believe Brady became the greatest quarterback ever when he led a comeback win over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, his fourth championship. And after that, Brady has had perhaps the best two-year stretch for a quarterback in NFL history. Amazing.
Wentz is a great story and having a marvelous season. Yet, the only reason to vote for Wentz at this point would be because you’re bored of the obvious pick. That’s why Michael Jordan didn’t win more NBA MVPs. Brady is the MVP at this point. Brady has gotten an MVP vote each of the last four years, but hasn’t won an MVP since his second award in 2010. It would be surprising if this wasn’t his third MVP season, though there’s still time for Wentz or someone else to catch him.
Here’s the MVP ballot going into Week 13:
3. Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson — Others have better numbers, but nobody does more for his team than Wilson. He has been able to carry this injury-ravaged team with no running game and no offensive line to a 7-4 record.
4. Washington Redskins QB Kirk Cousins — Too much stock is placed in a team’s record when it comes to MVP awards. Cousins has had a remarkable season for a team that’s falling apart around him. It’s arguable that no other team has been hit harder by injuries. And still, with an offensive line that hasn’t been able to protect him too well (and also with his top two receivers from last year playing elsewhere this season, top free-agent pickup Terrelle Pryor contributing nothing and tight end Jordan Reed hurt all the time), Cousins has been very good. He’s second in the NFL in yards, has a 101.1 rating and hasn’t thrown more than one interception in any game this season. It will get lost because the Redskins’ record is just 5-6, but Cousins is having his best season.
5. Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff — Who saw this coming a few months ago? Any praise is well deserved. The Rams are 8-3, and Goff is having a good, efficient season for the second-highest scoring offense in the NFL. (I’d like to get a non-quarterback on the list but it’s a strange season; no skill-position player is really deserving and no defensive player is having a transcendent season.)
Defensive Player of the Year: Sacks usually win this award, and Minnesota Vikings end Everson Griffen and Jacksonville Jaguars end Calais Campbell will get attention for great sack numbers and being on fantastic defenses. But this is the year of the shutdown corner (respect), and I really hope one of the three on my ballot get the award. Cornerbacks too often get overlooked in this award, especially in a passing league with rules that make their jobs nearly impossible.
- Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
- Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson.
- New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore.
Coach of the Year: I’ll probably discuss this at length in future weeks, but are we giving Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay too much credit because Jeff Fisher was so terrible? Any praise of McVay always comes back to how much of an improvement he was over Fisher. And while he clearly is a massive upgrade, he also had the lowest bar any coach had to cross this season. Would we be giving him so much credit if he was replacing a below-average coach instead of Fisher? McVay has been unquestionably good, but I don’t think he’s the NFL’s best coach.
- New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
- Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: I’d love to give Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson some love here, because he clearly was the best rookie, but six starts just isn’t enough to give him a vote. Kansas City Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt was once the clear front-runner, but his last score was Week 3 and his last 100-yard game was Week 5.
- New Orleans Saints RB Alvin Kamara.
- Jacksonville Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: No rookie defender has had the impact of Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who has helped transform the Saints’ defense. Though the other two on the ballot have been very good as well.
- Pittsburgh Steelers OLB T.J. Watt.
- Buffalo Bills CB Tre’Davious White.
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