MVP talk after just one game? 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 six 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 Week 1.
1. Kansas City Chiefs QB Alex Smith: The man was nearly perfect in a prime-time victory over the league’s best team — on the road — and in a Thursday night opener. The home team had won 13 of the last 14 versions of that game, but Smith posted a 148.6 passer rating to lead the Chiefs to a double-digit win. No-brainer.
2. Minnesota Vikings QB Sam Bradford: Bradford’s numbers were just as strong as Smith’s (143.0 rating, and he completed all but five of his 32 pass attempts in a double-digit victory), but that came against a defense that ranked in the bottom two in terms of points allowed in each of the last two years. That’s the difference between a front-runner and a projected runner-up.
3. Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford: He wasn’t perfect against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1, but the Lions wouldn’t have stood much of a chance without their comeback kid. Make that nine fourth-quarter comeback victories in his last 17 starts.
4. Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan: One of the only “normal” names on this list, the reigning MVP was smooth as always in a Week 1 victory over the Chicago Bears.
5. Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff: This feels stupid, but the exercise is calling for MVP candidates based on one weekend of football and Goff was certainly one of the biggest difference-makers in the league in Week 1. The second-year No. 1 overall pick completed 72.4 percent of his passes for over 300 yards while posting a 117.9 rating in a shocking blowout victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
Reminder: This is Kareem Hunt’s first NFL game. pic.twitter.com/ydnzxff5iF
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) September 8, 2017
6. Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt: No player in NFL history has amassed as many yards from scrimmage in a debut as Hunt did last Thursday against New England. That has to get him into the conversation.
7. Vikings RB Dalvin Cook: Hunt isn’t the only rookie in contention. Cook’s huge Week 1 performance — 127 yards on 22 carries — was overshadowed by Bradford because he’s a quarterback. But when you consider the common denominators, it’s possible the Florida State product’s presence was the key to success for Bradford and that entire offense on Monday night.
Dak Prescott with a dime to Brice Butler in the 1st half
(Video via @NFL) #NYGvDAL #NFLSunday pic.twitter.com/NiTHEysGUo
— YourSports (@YourSports) September 11, 2017
8. Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott: Stellar as usual in a Week 1 victory over the division-rival New York Giants, he has a shot but will have to make more big-time throws. Ezekiel Elliott’s fate could also have a large impact here.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown: It’s simple. The guy’s on pace to catch 176 passes (on 176 targets) for 2,912 yards. That’d make up for the fact he’d score zero touchdowns.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars DE Calais Campbell: I’d bet my life savings against him winning this, but the 31-year-old registered four sacks in his Jags debut. That pace has to qualify him as a deep runner-up.