Is it still too early to gauge the NFL MVP race? Pre-Halloween is probably pushing it, but we’ve been on this since Week 1 so it’s starting to feel like the freakin’ home stretch as mid-season approaches.

Here are the top eight candidates that have emerged as we approach the seventh Sunday of the 2017 season.

1. Kansas City Chiefs QB Alex Smith (last week: 1st): The NFL’s highest-rated passer has got a better record, a higher completion percentage and a stronger touchdown-to-interception ratio than Tom Brady. He suddenly knows how to throw bombs, and yet he somehow has yet to throw a single interception.

2. New England Patriots QB Tom Brady (last week: 2nd): He’d be the clear-cut leader if Smith weren’t putting together a masterpiece out of nowhere. Despite a bad defense and limited support on offense, Brady has carried the Pats to a 4-2 start.

3. Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz (last week: 4th): The Vegas favorite to win this thing (for some reason), Wentz has become legit in his second season. He’s money on third down and he’s got a 13-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio for the first-place Eagles.

4. New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees (last week: 6th): The 38-year-old has rallied the 3-2 Saints back from an 0-2 start with all of those wins coming against quality opponents. They put up 52 on the Detroit Lions Sunday.

5. Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson (last week: 7th): The rookie sensation has absolutely lit up opposing defenses in four straight games. He’s thrown a league-high 15 touchdown passes and he leads all quarterbacks with 202 rushing yards.

6. Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (last week: 5th): His Panthers are 4-2 but coming off a dud at home. He and the team just haven’t been consistent enough, and it’s a problem that 21 qualified quarterbacks have higher passer ratings.

7. Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown (last week: unranked): This is a longshot, but it’s worth noting that Brown is on pace to catch 128 passes for 1,867 yards this season. That would be the fifth-highest reception total and the third-highest receiving yardage total in NFL history.

8. Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence (last week: unranked): He’s still on pace to break the single-season sack record with 27. So long as that’s the case he’ll be an MVP candidate.

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at, a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at, Deadspin,, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Comeback Media, but his day gig has him covering the NFL nationally for Bleacher Report.