As the NFL season passes the midway mark, a few players have emerged as clear candidates for the MVP award. While this award is almost always given to a quarterback, we take a look at the five players who have caught our eye and made their case as contenders.
Tom Brady has had an eventful season to say the least. After sitting out the first four games of the regular season due to a suspension, Brady has come out red-hot and has clearly established his team as a Super Bowl contender. He has led the Patriots to a 4-1 record since his return and has put up an outstanding passer rating of 123 (the closest active QB in the league has a 115 passer rating). While Brady has only played five games, a monstrous 12% of his completed passes have been touchdowns. This statistic is bound to drop off somewhat, but Brady looks primed to continue this hot streak clear into the playoffs.
After being drafted fourth overall, Ezekiel Elliott joined the Cowboys when they desperately needed an offensive threat preceding the loss of Tony Romo. Not only did Elliott completely revitalize the Cowboys offense, he allowed fellow rookie, Dak Prescott, to shine as the new quarterback. His threat as a runner allowed Prescott more time in the pocket to make plays, which established a balanced offensive attack for the Cowboys. Elliott’s strength, speed and patience as a runner are uncanny for a rookie and in turn, he has averaged 110 yards over the course of 10 games. Elliott’s 110-yard average is just 3 yards shy of the average set by Eric Dickerson, who currently holds the rookie season rushing record. Elliott’s stellar performance can clearly be attributed to Dallas’ success therefore his case as the league’s MVP is only growing more compelling.
Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons sit atop the NFC South with a 6-4 record. The Falcons have faced a tough schedule thus far and Atlanta’s successes are assuredly due to Ryan’s superb performance. Matty Ice has propelled the Falcons offensive attack to first in the NFL in total points per game (32) and second in passing yards per game (309). Ryan’s passer rating sits at 115, ranked second in the NFL just behind Tom Brady and he has thrown 24 touchdown passes to just five interceptions. While Brady may have a better stat line when it comes to passer rating and touchdown ratio, Ryan is doing more with less and he has performed consistently through what is one of the league’s toughest schedules.
In just his third year, Derek Carr has played a crucial role in the transformation of the Oakland Raiders. A team that, over the previous three seasons tallied a record of 14-34 is now 8-2 and sitting in first place in the league’s toughest division. Just three weeks ago Carr threw for a whopping 513 yards and in the following week he led the Raiders past the defending champion Denver Broncos, 30-20. Every week Carr continuously makes his case as the league’s MVP. His performance has led him to a 100-passer rating and Carr has thrown an interception on just 1% of his passes. While Carr’s stats may not beat out the stats of veteran QB’s like Brady or Ryan, Derek Carr has been vitally important to this Raiders team and his success will not go unnoticed in this year’s MVP race.
David Johnson has emerged as one of the league’s best running backs this season. While the Cardinals have had a disappointing season, Johnson has continued to be a bright spot in Arizona’s offense. Johnson ranks third in the NFL with 863 total yards, second in total touchdowns with 10, and forth in yards per game with 86. Stats don’t lie and Johnson has been remarkably consistent, perhaps the most consistent running back in the NFL. While Johnson does have stiff competition for MVP, particularly in the running back position against Ezekiel Elliott, he has been the backbone of the Cardinals team and if he is able to continue his exceptional play he just may be the 2016-17 NFL MVP.
Let us know who you think should be this year’s MVP!
You can check out more stats at NFL.com.