Expectations are high for many NFL teams and players entering the season. Some players, though, can dream of more than just leading their team to a Super Bowl. A select few are favored to win the MVP award, recognizing a season of individual greatness.
This award usually goes to a quarterback, and it usually goes to someone on a winning team. Neither of these are prerequisites, of course, but they’re simply the most likely outcome. So which five players are the early favorites to claim the award? Here are some names to consider.
5) Baker Mayfield, QB, Browns
Mayfield’s rookie year made everyone salivate over his ceiling. It’s only a matter of question whether he can reach it. In his first NFL year, he threw 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions with 3,725 yards passing. The addition of Odell Beckham Jr. has led to greater expectations of the Browns this year, and Mayfield will be looked to as a leader. If the Browns do what many believe they are capable of, Mayfield could shoot to the forefront of the MVP debate in his second season.
4) Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles
Health will be vital for Wentz, who hasn’t played 16 games since 2016. He may well have won an MVP in 2017 if not for a season-ending injury. The Eagles should be contenders again in 2019, and Wentz has shown that as long as he’s healthy, he’s capable of putting up huge numbers. Despite two injury-plagued seasons, he’s hit 3,000 yards both times. If he can play all 16 games, 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns are within the realm of possibility. Those are MVP-like numbers.
3) Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
Rodgers played through a knee injury most of last season and was not his usual accurate self. Though he threw for 25 touchdowns and just two interceptions, his 62.3 completion percentage was his second-lowest career mark since taking over as the Packers’ starter. Green Bay stumbled to a 6-9-1 season that cost Mike McCarthy his job. Now it’s up to Matt LaFleur to bring out the best in Rodgers and see if the quarterback can return to the MVP form he displayed in 2011 and 2014. We’re envisioning a major improvement from last season.
2) Drew Brees, QB, Saints
Brees actually posted the worst numbers of his Saints career last year, falling short of 4,000 yards for the first time. He would’ve made it had he played in all 16 games, and he still threw 32 touchdowns, suggesting that the magic is not gone. The Saints are going to be talented as ever, and they’ll lean heavily on Brees to move the offense. There’s every chance he returns to the 4,000-yard plateau while throwing a ton of touchdown passes.
1) Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs
After he delivered 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns passing last season, expectations are sky high for Mahomes in 2019. If he can do anything close to that again while leading the Chiefs to the playoffs and beyond, he has every chance of winning the award again. There’s no reason he can’t — while some regression may be inevitable, he has all the tools to be elite and the weapons around him to put up truly outrageous stat lines. For now, Mahomes is the favorite to retain his MVP award — it will take some effort and probably a step back on his part for someone to take it from him.