The NFL MVP battle involves two horses, a huge gap and then a bunch of other equidae. Also known as a two-horse race. But does either front-running horse want to win? After all, an MVP hasn’t won a Super Bowl this century, and MVPs are 0-8 in Super Bowl appearances since 2001.
Regardless, here’s how we view the MVP race with five weeks remaining in the 2017 NFL season.
1. Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz (last week: 1st): The second-year North Dakota State product was again magnificent in another blowout victory in Week 12. The league’s touchdown leader is running the top-scoring offense in football for a team that has lost just once. No-brainer.
2. New England Patriots QB Tom Brady (last week: 2nd): But Brady continues to be right there. The 40-year-old has a 128.1 passer rating in his last three games and leads the league in touchdown-to-interception ratio, yards per attempt and passer rating. The Pats haven’t lost since Week 4.
3. New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees (last week: 3rd): The league’s third-highest-rated passer had a quietly strong performance in a tough road loss to the Rams. He’s right there in all the major statistical categories, he leads the NFL with 49 20-yard completions, and the Saints are 8-3.
4. Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff (last week: 7th): He got the better of Brees in a solid bounce-back performance, and he’s tied for the NFL lead with 10 40-yard completions for a team that remains in Super Bowl contention at 8-3.
5. Minnesota Vikings QB Case Keenum (last week: 8th): He remains a longshot, but the 29-year-old journeyman has now posted triple-digit passer ratings in three consecutive huge victories for a team that is 9-2 and riding a seven-game winning streak.
6. Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (last week: 4th): The great improviser is basically doing it all on his own, but the numbers haven’t been there the last couple weeks and Seattle remains outside of the playoff picture. He’s a wild card who probably has a higher ceiling than some of the guys listed above him here.
7. Kansas City Chiefs QB Alex Smith (last week: 6th): Smith is still the league’s second-highest-rated passer but he hasn’t been himself in a month and the Chiefs have lost five of six. He won’t likely be included here next week.
8. Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford (last week: 5th): Same with Stafford, who isn’t completely healthy but has still been far too inconsistent.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown (last week: unranked): Fantasy points aren’t a perfect metric, but it’s worth noting that the NFL’s most dominant receiver has more of them than any player in football except Wilson.
10. Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott (last week: unranked): It’s absurd how bad the Cowboys offense has become without him in the backfield.