Looking at the NFL MVP Race

The winner of the MVP award is always compelling, no matter the sport. Whether it be the NFL, the NBA, MLB, NHL, your local chess club, it doesn’t matter. The winner will always come with controversy. Some will agree, some won’t.

Major League Baseball announced Mookie Betts and Christian Yelich as AL and NL MVP yesterday. So that got me thinking about the NFL MVP race. I’ve seen a lot of discussion about this race lately, so I figured I’d chime in with my two cents. Since, you know, it’s always desired.

I see three favorites, but two distinct frontrunners. If you’ve watched any football at all this season, those three shouldn’t surprise you.

The Dark Horse

You know you’re going to have a fun MVP race when Todd freakin’ Gurley is a dark horse. It would be foolish to not at least acknowledge him.

He’s had two good seasons and one decent season already in his career, and he’s set to smash his career highs this year. He’s already tied his career high in rushing touchdowns (13) and is just over 300 yards away from beating his career high in rushing yards.

Oh yeah, he’s only 10 games into the season.

He’s not going to hit the yardage Adrian Peterson did in 2012 and he’s not going to score as many touchdowns as LT did in 2006.

Combine that with the fact that the MVP is as close to a quarterback award as you can get, Todd Gurley isn’t going to be MVP. I would be stunned if he’s outside the top three, though.

The Frontrunners

Drumroll please…actually, there’s no need for a drumroll. Everybody knows this race is currently between Drew Brees and Patrick Mahomes. If you label this race as a deadlock, or ‘as close as it gets’, you wouldn’t be lying. Both QBs are favored in many different ways, and it may come down to what voters view as most important. Here’s the breakdown of the key areas to look at for a quarterback:

Passing

Advantage: Mahomes, although it’s not by a large margin. Mahomes has 3,150 passing yards and 31 touchdowns to Brees’ 2,601 and 21. Mahomes has played one more game, but even breaking it down still gives the advantage to Mahomes.

Mahomes averages 9.1 yards/attempt to Brees’ 8.6, it’s a more distinct advantage if you look at yards/completion. Mahomes has a 13.6 to 11.1 advantage there.

Accuracy 

Brees, Brees, Brees. Drew Brees has an absurd 77.3% completion percentage, Mahomes is at 67%. Mahomes has thrown seven interceptions this season, Brees has thrown one. That’s it. One.

In the grand scheme of things, this shouldn’t surprise you for a new quarterback vs veteran quarterback, but Mahomes is nowhere near Brees’ level in terms of accuracy.

Flashiness

I think this should play a very, very minimal role in the decision process, but you’ve got to give Mahomes credit for some of the plays he pulls off. Whether it be running 20 yards backward, curling right, and heaving a 30-yard completion or throwing a pass left-handed with Von Miller on his ankles, Mahomes is a Madden player’s dream. Brees is a pure quarterback. He’s not going to win you over with flashy moves, but he doesn’t need to.

Supporting Cast

In terms of who’s around them, I think Mahomes has it a little easier, but that’s not to say Brees has it hard. Mahomes gets to work with a RB/WR/TE combo that can’t be matched anywhere else in the NFL. Despite this, you can’t make me believe that his numbers would be stunted too much if he had guys like Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, and Mark Ingram to throw to.

Age

Flip a coin, honestly. The numbers that Brees is putting up at 39 is absurd. The numbers that Mahomes is putting up at 23 is absurd. To me, I think succeeding at an older age is more impressive, but it really just depends on how you look at the game.

The Verdict

Chiefs fans are nervous. Chiefs fans are nervous because they’ve been here before, early success, and it always ends in heartbreak. But this nervousness is different, it feels different than all the other times. That’s because of one guy: Patrick Mahomes.

Yes, he has a GREAT supporting cast, but so did Alex Smith. Why didn’t he play like this?

Yes, Drew Brees will be a first ballot Hall of Famer and has never won an MVP, but that shouldn’t even be relevant in seasonal MVP voting.

Maybe Mahomes goes out and has a horrible game against LA this week, that’ll certainly, and rightfully, change some people’s opinions. In terms of value i.e. what the MVP embodies, I can’t think of any player more valuable to his team than him.

Right now, my pick for MVP is Patrick Mahomes.

 

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