The race for the 2019 NFL MVP
With 12 weeks gone in the NFL season the race for MVP is well and truly on. The criteria for winning the MVP is pretty set in stone at this point, be the best quarterback in the league on a playoff team. For anyone else to have a chance they need to do something REALLY special. Right now, if you listen to seemingly every media outlet that covers the NFL, tt seems to be Lamar Jackson’s world and we are all just living in it. However, he needs to finish the job to ensure he takes home the award. Who else has thrown their name into the mix and who thinks they have a shot when they really don’t. Let’s take a look at the main contenders for the 2019 NFL MVP award.
Lamar Jackson | Baltimore Ravens
Through 11 weeks of the season, Lamar Jackson has led his Baltimore Ravens to a record of 8-2 and top of the AFC North. The league hasn’t seen a dual threat Quarterback as good as Jackson since Michael Vick. Even Jalen Ramsey, the uber-confident cornerback has gone asking for Vick’s help for his upcoming match against Jackson.
Jackson has 3046 total yards, 25 total touchdowns, and just 9 giveaways. He is the engine behind the offense which is the leagues best by far. They are averaging 34.1 points per game, which is nearly five points more than the second place San Francisco 49ers. No team is running the ball more frequently either, and no wonder with Jackson in the backfield. Jackson is averaging 6.7 yards per carry, granted he hasn’t ran as much as them but this is a higher average than Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliot, Dalvin Cook and Nick Chubb.
Jackson has also beaten two other MVP candidates in Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson. Not only did Jackson beat Watson, he completely outshone him and potentially knocked him out of the running completely.
Jackson’s Season Stats:
185/279: 66.3%, 2258 passing yards, 8.1 YPA, 19 passing touchdowns, 5 INT, 116 rush attempts, 781 yards, 6.7 YPR, 6 rushing touchdowns and 4 fumbles with a passer rating of 106.3
Russell Wilson | Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson was Lamar Jackson before Lamar Jackson was Lamar Jackson. Even when I am trying to talk about someone else winning MVP I have mentioned Jackson four times already. Anyway back to Wilson, for as long as I can remember I don’t think there has been a more consistent player in the league than Wilson. He has consistently put the Seattle’s offense on his back and has made sure they are always in contention for the playoffs.
This year not only is he his usual consistent self, but he is putting up 2018 Mahomes type numbers. Wilson leads the league in passing touchdowns and passer rating. He is tied for the fewest interceptions, and has led his Seahawks to a record of 8-2. Wilson’s fourth quarter play is possibly his strongest argument for MVP. In five of Seattle’s eight wins this season. the Seahawks have been tied or trailing in the fourth quarter and Wilson has led his team on a game winning drive. There are just five of the 32 fourth-quarter and overtime comebacks he has in his career. One thing is for sure, no matter who wins the MVP there will probably not be a cooler customer down the stretch than Russell Wilson.
Wilson’s Seasons Stats:
224/327: 68.5%, 2737 passing yards, 8.4 YPA, 23 passing touchdowns, 2 INT, 50 rush attempts, 256 yards, 5.1 YPR, 3 rushing touchdowns and 5 fumbles with a passer rating of 114.9
Deshaun Watson | Houston Texans
Up until he got blown away by Lamar Jackson, Watson was well and truly in the hunt. Unfortunately for him, Jackson’s beat down of the Texans and Watson’s inability to get anything going has left his MVP credentials in need of superhuman performances until the end of the season. The biggest stumbling block for Watson and his MVP hopes is getting to the playoffs. He took a big step towards the playoffs by beating the Colts on Thursday Night, but he is still in a close division, and closing that out has to be his priority as no quarterback is winning the MVP unless they are playing in January.
Another big key for Watson is his wide receivers staying healthy. In his first game back, Will Fuller V showed how good of a deep threat he can be, and how that can make Watson look so much better. With Fuller and Hopkins catching balls from Watson he has as good a shot as any at the MVP as long as he guides his team to the playoffs first. Out of the pocket Watson has been his usual dynamic self, keeping plays alive and moving the sticks. Lets not forget that Watson played a game with one good eye, if that doesn’t get him a mention in the MVP race what does?
Watson has to stop turning the ball over, he has more interceptions than the other candidates and he has fumbled eight times, losing three of them. Ball security and deep passes to Fuller and Hopkins may mean Watson still has a shot at the coveted title.
Watson’s Seasons Stats:
249/361: 69%, 2899 passing yards, 8.0 YPA, 20 passing touchdowns, 7 INT, 58 rush attempts, 391 yards, 5.2 YPR, 5 rushing touchdowns and 8 fumbles with a passer rating of 103.4
In the Mix
Dak PRescott | Dallas Cowboys
Over the summer Prescott might not even have been the most valuable person on his team, but now with Thanksgiving round the corner he may very well be the most valuable player in the league.
Prescott and his Cowboys offense lead the NFL in passing play success rate this year, and actually only trail one team in this statistic ever, the undefeated Tom Brady-led 2007 New England Patriots. In terms of yards per passing attempt, Prescott is having the best season a Cowboys’ quarterback has ever had. This means he is doing better than greats such as Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman and legendary pundit Tony Romo. When your besting Hall of Famers and on par with a future Hall of Famer, you are showing that your not only your teams most important player but you might be the leagues.
The biggest negative to Prescott’s hopes is his teams overall record, as they are hardly dominating at 6-4. However, on the same note, even in the defeats their passing success rate would still top the league. That means that even in defeat Prescott is doing all he can to pull the games out. Similar to the Texans, the Cowboys just need to focus on getting to the postseason. They have had a relatively easy schedule so far and have not capitalised on it. In Week 12 Dak has a chance to really put his name in the mix by going up against the leagues stingiest defense, a game where he could cement his name in the running, or have it blown out by that secondary; either way, it should make for entertaining watching.
Prescott’s Season Stats:
247/365: 67.7%, 3221 passing yards, 8.8 YPA, 21 passing touchdowns, 9 INT, 33 rush attempts, 193 yards, 5.8 YPR, 3 rushing touchdowns and 2 fumbles with a rating of 104.1
Aaron Rodgers | Green Bay PAckers
The NFC is competitive and there are several teams who could be their representative in the Super Bowl. One usual constant in the NFC race is Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. However, in recent years, the Packers have struggled and this could be partially to blame on some injuries to number 12. This year, the story is somewhat different. Rodgers is playing lights out, and is putting together a MVP-worthy season. Having already won the MVP award twice, this season Rodgers has his highest quarterback rating since the 2016 season at 102.7.
He has led his team to victories over all three of his NFC North, rivals as well as the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead, and on the road against the Dallas Cowboys. He has the Packers sitting at 8-2, with the number two seed in the NFC. Lets also remember that Rodgers did this without his number one receiver, Davante Adams, for all off October. During that time Rodgers had possibly the best game of his career against the Oakland Raiders. He had 426 passing yards, averaged over 10 yards a pass, five passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown, with no giveaways. He ended that game with a perfect passer rating. He then followed that up the following week by going into KC and beating the Chiefs, throwing for over 300 yards and another three touchdowns.
No matter who Rodgers has out there he is making plays, getting the job done and that shows how good a quarterback he is, as he will make any old receiver look quality. If Rodgers can get the Packers to the Super Bowl he has as good a shot as anyone at the MVP.
Rodgers’ Season Stats:
225/347: 64.8%, 2718 passing yards, 7.8 YPA, 17 passing touchdowns, 2 INT, 27 rush attempts, 109 yards, 4.0 YPR, 1 rushing touchdowns and 2 fumbles with a rating of 102.7
The Reigning Champion
Patrick Mahomes | Kansas City Chiefs
After the first three weeks of the season, whoever it is that carves the name onto the MVP trophy probably had started on the P-A-T, and why not? Through the Week 3, Mahomes showed no signs of letting up on his previous year, as he completed 71.9% of his passes, threw for 1195 yards and amassed 10 touchdowns. Since then however, the Chiefs have been stalling, losing three in a row. Mahomes has also missed a few games due to injury.
What Mahomes does offer you as a viewer is electrifying plays, and other than Lamar Jackson has there ever been a more entertaining player to watch? He is still capable of doing things that other humans simply cannot do. In fact the rumours of him being of non-human origin were only heightened after his injury, as he has special ligaments that allow his knee to basically dislocate and go back into place causing little disruption.
Unfortunately for Mahomes, and his chances to win the MVP for a second straight year, it is pretty much impossible to win it having missed games through injury. In fact from 2004 to 2018, only one person has won the MVP after missing a game. Who was that player? Another contender this year in Aaron Rodgers. If anyone can do the unthinkable and win it for the second straight year after missing multiple games, then it is Patrick Mahomes, but he will need to finish the season strong and put up even more ridiculous numbers.
Mahome’s Season Stats:
212/323: 65.6%, 2808 passing yards, 8.7 YPA, 19 passing touchdowns, 2 INT, 22 rush attempts, 141 yards, 6.4 YPR, 0 rushing touchdowns and 3 fumbles with a rating of 110.0
Deserves a Mention
Christian McCaffrey | Carolina Panthers
With Christian McCaffrey and Cam Newton in the backfield, the Panthers were on their way to what should be a strong offense. Then Newton never got healthy, and it was all on McCaffrey to get the Panthers going.
It is almost like McCaffrey saw this coming and bulked up in pre-season. I mean have you seen this guy? He is huge.
Anyway moving on from his physique to his actual play. Unfortunately for McCaffrey, no matter the stats he puts up, I cannot envisage a world where he wins the MVP. Firstly he is a running back, so unless he bursts through the 2000 rushing yards mark then its unlikely a running back usurps a quarterback to the title.
Secondly, the Panthers are not winning their division and in a competitive NFC, they are not looking like they will make the postseason. McCaffrey’s work will be cut out for him. Since 2000 only four running backs have won the award, and in a league where quarterbacks keep lighting it up every week, its difficult to see another winning it.
While the Panthers sitting at 5-5 and struggling for the postseason, McCaffrey certainly cannot be blamed. With six games over 100 rushing yards (one was nearly 200), five games where he has averaged over 6 yards per attempt, three games with multiple rushing touchdowns and only two games where he hasn’t found the end zone, McCaffrey is certainly putting up strong numbers. Leading the league in rushing yards, average yards per attempts (amongst running backs), yards per game and tied for the most rushing touchdowns, he is doing it all for Carolina. He already has over 2000 yards in total, and if he finishes strong he could get close to that number on the ground alone.
One thing is for sure the Panthers will be hoping he continues to put up big numbers. Although with their slim playoff chances, there may become a point where they consider resting him a little bit.
McCaffrey’s Season Stats:
199 attempts, 1059 rushing yards, 5.3 YPA, 11 touchdowns, 59 receptions, 517 receiving yards, 8.8 average yards per catch and 3 receiving touchdowns.
Image credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports, Shane Roper-USA TODAY Sports, Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports, Ben Rolfe – The Touchdown