By Aaron Jackson
With only 2 weeks to go in the NFL season and teams beginning to clinch playoff spots/divisions, this seems like the ideal time to take a look once again at the NFL’s MVP discussion.
For the record, here were my rankings in mid-November.
#5 Von Miller, Broncos’ Linebacker
#4 Matt Ryan, Falcons’ Quarterback
#3 Tom Brady, Patriots’ Quarterback
#2 Derek Carr, Raiders’ Quarterback
#1 Ezekiel Elliot, Cowboys’ Running Back
Without further ado, here’s my updated rankings.
#5 Le’Veon Bell: For my money this guy is the best offensive weapon in football. His ability to impact the rushing game and the passing game is surpassed by no one. In 11 games he has 72 catches, while also rushing for almost 1,200 yards. Meanwhile Pittsburgh is rolling right now, taking over the division lead at 9-5. The team that Patriots’ fans fear most is now showing why they might be the most AFC’s most dangerous.
#4 Dak Prescott: There were some chinks in the armor, or at least that’s what the pundits were telling us. Dallas’ offense was struggling, they had lost to the Giants again, and clearly Prescott was fading. I’ll admit, I bought into the narrative, and that, along with my love for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, made me pick them to win this past Sunday night. But watching Dak in that game showed me exactly what he’s capable of. He’s probably not going to beat you deep, but he’s going to make the throws you need to win, and more importantly, not make the throws that will lose games. Against Tampa he completed 32-36 passes. That’s incredible.
#3 Ezekiel Elliot: He’s going to win the rushing title, I don’t doubt that. What he’s done as a rookie is absolutely extraordinary, and he is showing no signs of hitting any sort of wall. Honestly, you could make the case that this guy should be your MVP right now and I would probably agree. Here’s my problem, both with Elliot and Prescott. Both are great, but their greatness is enabled by an absolutely incredible offensive line. They’re the real MVP’s, though they’ll never actually be voted as such. For that reason, I have a hard time putting either Cowboy higher.
#2 Matt Ryan: I wanted to put Derek Carr here, in fact that was my original plan. Then I looked at his numbers compared to Matt Ryan’s, just out of curiosity. What I found was Ryan is the much better candidate, and honestly it isn’t even close. The Falcon’s QB has a rating of 114.8, compared to Carr’s 95.2. He’s thrown for over 4,300 yards, compared to Carr’s just over 3,700. And he has 32 touchdowns to only 7 interceptions. Carr has 25 and 6. While the Raiders have the better record, I have to think the Raiders would be much better off without Carr than the Falcons would be without Ryan.
#1 Tom Brady: I can’t deny him this title anymore. He’s closing in on Carr’s numbers, he’s beaten the teams in front of him and he’s doing so on a team that is missing its second biggest superstar. His 109.7 QB rating is second only to Ryan’s, but his team now has a clear path to 14-2. Have I mentioned he’s 39 years old? There’s no way you can continue to deny his claim to the MVP.
Aaron Jackson (@AaronRJackson) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.