When I had originally planned to sit down and write this week’s column, the title of the column was going to be, “There is no clear cut MVP in the NFL this season.”
Entering Week 11 of the NFL season, in my mind, there was not one true candidate to win the NFL’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady were all making valid MVP cases.
Then Week 11 happened, and the debate ended. Patrick Mahomes stood above the rest.
An MVP, in my mind, is someone who constantly puts in a good performance, week in and week out, over the course of the season. Not only do their stats look spectacular, but their teams win a lot of football games.
Wilson had 19 touchdowns and three interceptions over the first five games of the Seahawks’ 2020 campaign, leading his team to a 5-0 record. Since then, he’s thrown 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions in the last five games, and the Seahawks are 2-3 in those games.
A hot start and a cold middle do not equal consistency. Wilson, who has never gotten an MVP vote in his whole career, will not be taking home the trophy in 2021.
Rodgers started the 2020 season blistering hot: his 13 touchdown passes and zero interceptions over the first four games led the Packers to a 4-0 start. Then, Tampa Bay happened and Rodgers and the Packers got nailed 38-10, and Rodgers was horrible, netting only a 35.4 passer rating while throwing zero scores and two interceptions in that game. He followed up the next three games with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions, but the Packers beat two purist teams in that three-game stretch in the Texans and the Niners practice squad, and they lost badly to the Vikings in the second game of that three-game stretch, putting up eight messy points in the second half.
In Week 11, Rodgers and the Packers had Philip Rivers and the Colts down 28-14 at the half, and they scored only three points the rest of the way and lost the game in overtime, 34-31. MVP-caliber players don’t lose leads like Rodgers and the Packers have lost this year. I understand the defense could have played better, and Rodgers doesn’t control the defense, but barely scoring in the second half of games is on Rodgers.
If you take out Brady’s games against the New Orleans Saints and his game against the Rams in Week 11 on Monday Night Football, the Bucs are 7-1, and he has 22 touchdowns and only two interceptions with an average passer rating of 107.8. That’s MVP numbers. However, in the other three games, he’s only thrown four touchdowns to go along with seven interceptions and a passer rating of 60.4, and we can’t discount three games when judging the MVP of the league.
Ben Roethlisberger has an interesting case because his Steelers are 10-0 for the first time in franchise history, and they are the only undefeated team left in the league. The problem for Roethlisberger is his stats don’t scream out MVP on the page. Yes, he has 25 touchdowns and only five interceptions, but he’s only had a passer rating of over 120 once (Week 5 against the Eagles) and he has the number five ranked defense in the league. The defense has made Roethlisberger’s life this season a whole lot easier than every other quarterback on this list.
And then, there’s the magician: Patrick Mahomes.
Mahomes has 27 touchdown passes and only two interceptions this season. He’s on pace to throw for 51 touchdowns and less than four interceptions, which is similar to Brady’s numbers in 2007 and Peyton Manning’s numbers in 2013 when they had historical seasons. In 2007, Brady threw 50 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Manning in 2013 had 55 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. While Mahomes may fall short of Manning’s touchdown record, he’s on pace to throw the least amount of interceptions for any MVP in a season. To add to Mahomes’s case, his defense is ranked number 15 overall, but 26th overall in run defense and eighth in pass defense, both lower ratings than Pittsburgh’s defense, which ranks seventh against the run and third against the pass.
Not only does Mahomes beat Roethlisberger in every category, but he’s doing more. The Chiefs offense ranks number two in the whole NFL, right behind the Arizona Cardinals, and they score the most points per game in the league, averaging 32.1 points a contest. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, has the number 21-ranked offense in the whole league, and they average 29.8 points a contest, two points per game behind Kansas City.
You can’t have the number 21 ranked offense in the NFL and be considered a legitimate MVP candidate. That math just doesn’t add up to me. You can’t win every game you play with only the twenty-first best offense. Something else has to be aiding you (the defense).
That closes Roethlisberger’s case and leaves only one man standing.
Barring injury, the Madden NFL 20 cover athlete is going to win his second MVP award in three seasons.
Brandon Lewis is a columnist. Email him at email@example.com.
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Hi, I’m Lauren Sasala, a senior journalism student from Toledo. I’m also the editor in chief of The Kent Stater and KentWired this semester. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important news about Kent State and the Kent community. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate.