It’s never too early to start gauging the NFL MVP race, so we’re doing exactly that despite the fact the 2017 regular season is only 12 percent complete.
Some of the names listed here might look silly in the weeks to come. But here are the top 10 candidates that have emerged after at the two-week mark.
1. Kansas City Chiefs QB Alex Smith (last week: 1st): One week after dominating the best team in the NFL on their home turf in their prime-time opener, Smith led the Chiefs to another impressive victory over the tough Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2. His numbers are off the charts, and he’s been throwing the ball deep with great success. It’s bizarre, and unlikely to hold up. But for now, there isn’t a doubt.
2. Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (last week: unranked): One of the league’s fastest-rising stars has completed 75 percent of his passes and has yet to commit a turnover for the 2-0 Raiders. He’s in Smith’s range, but those victories weren’t as impressive and he hasn’t been quite as productive on a per-play basis.
3. Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan (last week: 4th): So much for a Super Bowl hangover. The reigning MVP has averaged 9.9 yards per attempt in two steely victories to open what was supposed to be a tough season.
4. Minnesota Vikings QB Sam Bradford (last week: 2nd): Tough luck for Bradford as usual, with a mysterious knee injury keeping him off the field in Week 2. Still, he was nearly perfect in a Week 1 victory over the New Orleans Saints and he remains the league’s highest-rated passer.
5. Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford (last week: 3rd): The league’s newly-minted highest-paid player has already delivered with a fourth-quarter comeback in Week 1 followed by a road victory at the New York Giants in Week 2. But he might have to start hitting on more deep balls to become a true contender over the course of the season.
“Tom Brady can’t throw deep” pic.twitter.com/Wi9nGOOk30
— LeOusmane DeMessi (@ChrisCreacy) September 17, 2017
6. New England Patriots QB Tom Brady (last week: unranked): He wasn’t himself in Week 1, but he gets plenty of credit for bouncing back within a bang-up offense in order to dominate the Saints on Sunday. Brady’s numbers are still top-notch.
7. Denver Broncos QB Trevor Siemian (last week: unranked): This is what I meant by weird. We know this won’t hold up, but Siemian has been surprisingly awesome thus far for the Broncos. Completion percentage of 65.0, six touchdowns to two interceptions and a 106.9 passer rating. Where’s that come from?
— Mike Welch (@RealMikeWelch) September 17, 2017
8. Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt (last week: 6th): A non-quarterback! The rookie third-round pick leads the NFL in scrimmage yards by a 111-yard margin and has also scored more than anybody else in football. If Smith wasn’t his teammate, he’d be ranked even higher.
9. Broncos OLB Von Miller (last week: unranked): A defensive player! OK, it’s unlikely this thing goes to a defender for the first time since 1986, but Miller has often carried the Broncos during their 2-0 start. He’s the league’s most dangerous pass-rusher and he’s been at his best so far.
10. Baltimore Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs (last week: unranked): Like Miller, Suggs won’t likely win this thing. But the man’s on pace for a record 24 sacks and he’s forced fumbles in each of the first two weeks. He’s the heart and soul of the league’s top defense, and for that he makes the list.