Last week, we asked whether Todd Gurley could overtake Tom Brady to win NFL MVP. Gurley didn’t play in Week 17 and Brady was at least good enough in a top-seed-clinching victory to hold on. But this could go either way, and in our last edition of these rankings we’ll even introduce a wild card.
Every week, we have a new MVP frontrunner. Every time a guy starts getting MVP buzz, he suffers an injury or falls into a slump. There’s still time for someone to make a run, but right now the leader of the pack is essentially there by default, with one final riser making a run.
Here’s how we view a very odd race with one week remaining in the 2017 regular season.
1. New England Patriots QB Tom Brady (last week: 1st): He completed just 18 of 37 passes in a season-closing victory over the lifeless Jets, giving him an 81.6 passer rating in the month of December. But the Pats still won four of their five games that month, and Brady is probably the front-runner despite not leading the league in any major categories.
2. Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley (last week: 2nd): The league’s scrimmage yards leader with 2,093 despite missing Week 17, Gurley will likely fall short because he’s a running back and because Sean McVay and Jared Goff also deserve a lot of credit for what Gurley and that offense have achieved.
3. New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees (last week: 3rd): Rather quietly, Brees set a new NFL record with a completion percentage of 72.0 while also leading the league in yards per attempt (8.1) and posting the league’s second-highest passer rating (103.9). He was also the league’s best quarterback under pressure, and he led the NFL with 72 20-yard completions (nobody else had more than 62). Problem is it’s perceived as though he had a lot more support in New Orleans, where Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara went off.
If Tom Brady wins MVP, it won't be because of his statistics. Alex Smith and Drew Brees simply put up better numbers, pretty much across the board. pic.twitter.com/LxT5irtYsF
— Brad Gagnon (@Brad_Gagnon) January 2, 2018
4. Kansas City Chiefs QB Alex Smith (last week: 4th): The league’s highest-rated passer had a lot of support, but he at least deserves a shoutout. That 26-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio is off the charts when you consider how often he went deep this season. It’s also worth noting that the veteran put up huge numbers in December before sitting out Week 17.
5. Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz (last week: unranked): We removed Wentz from these rankings soon after he tore his ACL in Week 14, mainly because it’s hard to win MVP when you’re barely on the field in December. But Brady has struggled and nobody else has been able to claim the award. Maybe we should still consider the guy who was arguably the front-runner before suffering a season-ending injury?
Wentz finished the season as the league’s fourth-highest-rated passer, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. He was the best quarterback in the league on third down and in the red zone, his touchdown-to-interception ratio was better than Brady’s and he often carried the first-place Eagles, who are now a bit of a mess without him. He’ll get votes, and he’ll deserve them.