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#pounditMonday, May 10, 2021

Top 10 NFL MVP contenders

Patrick Mahomes

With two weeks to go in the NFL season, the MVP race has heated up, and we have a pretty clear idea of who may take home the prestigious award. While there are a number of worthy candidates, two names have really risen above and beyond the rest to make themselves favorites for the award, leaving the chasing pack behind. The race between them will be one of the key subplots of the final two weeks of the regular season. Beyond those two, several other players deserve recognition for the seasons they’re enjoying.

Here are the ten leading candidates for the NFL MVP award.

10. Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks

Wilson has essentially hauled the Seahawks into the playoffs in what many people expected would be a down year for the team. The remarkable quarterback has thrown 31 touchdowns to just six interceptions, and at least through Week 15 is posting the best QBR of his entire career. Wilson’s problem is his numbers just don’t compare to the quarterbacks nearer the top of the list, and losses to teams like San Francisco will do little to bolster his chances. A worthy candidate, but to call him a longshot would probably be generous.

9. Andrew Luck, QB, Colts

Luck will probably have to settle for a Comeback Player of the Year race, which would be a well-deserved reward for his perseverance in coming back from a shoulder injury. He’s set to surpass 4,000 yards passing, and his 34 touchdown passes are the second-best mark of his NFL career. Ultimately, his season can’t compare to that of Patrick Mahomes or Drew Brees, but with the Colts in playoff contention, this year has to be considered a success.

8. Khalil Mack, LB, Bears

In terms of pure impact, Mack probably deserved to be even higher on this list. It’s not a stretch to say that the Bears’ acquisition of Mack changed the course of their season and transformed their defense overnight. They took home an NFC North title that they were not expected to win and are in a strong position entering the postseason. But as valuable as Mack is to the Bears, defensive players face uphill battles to get recognition in MVP races. Mack’s 12.5 sacks in 12 games probably won’t stand out as being transcendent enough to get him higher in consideration.

7. Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans

Watson’s comeback from a devastating ACL injury is pretty much as impressive as Luck’s return from injury, and you can argue the Texans QB is having the better season. He’s thrown for over 3,500 yards and has 24 touchdowns, with the Texans well-positioned to claim the AFC South title. Ultimately, his year is not on par with that of some of his counterparts. If he keeps performing like this, however, he’ll be an even more serious contender for the award in the years to come.

6. Todd Gurley, RB, Rams

A run of Rams might split consideration between them, but all of them deserve it. First up is Gurley, who leads the NFL with 17 rushing touchdowns while adding four more receiving. With 1,251 rushing yards, he’s only 54 away from matching the career-best he set last season. Still, his season, great as it is, lacks the standout, eye-popping numbers that he probably needs to put himself in contention for this honor.

5. Jared Goff, QB, Rams

Goff was probably a stronger candidate before a mediocre few weeks that have seen his standing somewhat diminished. Many of the numbers are still excellent, including 4,273 passing yards and 27 touchdowns. However, his 13 interceptions are higher than he’d like them to be. Disappointing performances against the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles have done nothing to help him. An MVP may be in his future, but it probably won’t be in 2018.

4. Aaron Donald, DT, Rams

Donald will probably come as close as any defensive player will this season to claiming MVP honors. He leads the NFL in both sacks with 16.5 and tackles for loss with 20. He has been a dominant force in every way. He’s the rare defensive lineman that teams have to go out of their way to gameplan for. However, much like Mack, it takes a remarkable defensive season to even merit consideration for MVP, much less win it. He’s been impressive, but probably not impressive enough.

3. Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers

Rivers may be having the best overall season of his career. He’ll make it to 4,000 yards, and he’s thrown 31 touchdowns, with a good chance of surpassing his career-high of 34. He further bolstered his case by outperforming Patrick Mahomes head-to-head in a massive Week 15 contest at Kansas City. However, his overall numbers aren’t as good. He could win MVP in a lot of seasons, but unfortunately for him, he’s having a career year in a season with very stiff competition.

2. Drew Brees, QB, Saints

The MVP is basically between Brees and Patrick Mahomes, and it looks like it’s going to come down to the end of the season. Brees may have fallen slightly behind after three consecutive games that count as underwhelming by his lofty standards, barely topping 200 yards twice and throwing three touchdowns to two interceptions. One can’t ignore the full season’s worth of stats, though. He’s thrown 31 touchdowns to five interceptions, though his total yardage is down to 3,666 (despite hitting a major milestone). A strong finish to the season could easily put him back atop the rankings.

1. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs

Mahomes may have the perfect mixture of statistical dominance and a compelling narrative that will be enough to claim the award in his first season as a starter. Add in the fact that he’s wowing people with what he can do on the field and you have an excellent candidate. He leads in the key categories of passing yards with 4,543 and touchdowns with 45 and has the best QBR in the NFL. His 11 interceptions are a bit higher than he’d like, especially accounting for the fact that he hadn’t thrown one for his first four games, but it’s the only blemish. Add in the fact that the Chiefs are favored to land the top overall seed in the AFC, and it’s hard to deny Mahomes.


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