December in the NFL is when the contenders emerge and the pretenders fade back into the pack.
This is also the time of the year that MVP candidates lay their claims at a great individual award. Guys like Dak Prescott and Derek Carr entered Week 14 with a very big chance to make the award their’s to officially lose. And what did they both do? They stunk up the joint. Of course, neither player is officially out of the race, but both guys had terrible performances in prime time when they both had chances to seize the award. Not a good look.
On Monday night, Tom Brady shredded the top ranked Ravens defense and despite his 4 game suspension to start the season, he is now being looked at as the odds-on favorite to win MVP. And while I won’t knock anybody for feeling that way, I just think it’s lazy.
Much like the Heisman award in college football, the MVP often seems like an award that goes to the best quarterback on the best team. Sometimes it’s justified.
But in a year like 2016, where there aren’t any truly elite teams in the NFL, this would be the perfect year to buck that trend.
This would be the perfect year for a guy like Matt Stafford to win the MVP. The Lions are currently 9-4 and they hold the #2 seed in the NFC. In 8 of the Lions’ 9 wins, Stafford has led the team on a 4th quarter comeback (4QC) and game-winning drive (GWD). These are the same Lions who everybody wrote off because Calvin Johnson was no longer a part of the team and Stafford had yet to show that he had the ability to lead a team by himself and not force-feed anybody the ball.
A more obvious candidate that gets mentioned, but I don’t think people take seriously is Ezekiel Elliott. With the exception of his Week 1 performance, Zeke has rushed for at least 83 yards in every other game. He’s averaging 107 rushing yards a game and he already has 13 total touchdowns this season. He’s the heart and soul of the Dallas offense.
Despite the 8-5 record, you’re crazy if you don’t have Matt Ryan near the top of your MVP rankings. Ryan has been an offensive juggernaut all season long. He is first in touchdown % and second in yards and touchdowns. I’ve really been impressed by the fact he’s no longer “Julio or bust”.
If Tom Brady’s suspension isn’t an issue in the eyes of NFL voters, neither should Le’Veon Bell’s suspension either. Bell is currently averaging 161.6 yards from scrimmage per game, almost 20 more than David Johnson and almost 30 more than Ezekiel Elliott. Nobody else is within 50 yards of him. Bell’s week 14 performance against the Buffalo Bills should have him as an official dark horse candidate. If the Steelers were to win out (11-5 record), it would be hard not to mention him as a serious candidate.
If JJ Watt couldn’t win MVP in 2014, I highly doubt we’ll see a defensive player win MVP anytime soon.
As I mentioned before, there are no elite teams in 2016. It’s time for the MVP voters to really put some thought into this award.