Award may be Wilson’s to lose
Seattle QB already has posted an impressive array of statistics
The front-runner for NFL Most Valuable Player award extended his lead over the rest of the pack this weekend.
Russell Wilson led the 30th gamewinning drive of his career in the Seattle Seahawks’ comeback win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night, the most of any quarterback since Wilson entered the league in 2012. Through five games, he’s on track to win the league’s highest honor for the first time in his career.
Meanwhile, one of the league’s least most underrated players is proving his 2019 breakout season was no fluke.
Here’s a look at who’s trending up in the race for MVP through Week 5:
1. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (last week: No. 1)
Another week, another MVPmomentfor Wilson. With the Seahawks trailing 26-21 with 1:42 to play, Wilson led a 13-play, 94-yard drive, capped by a 6-yard touchdown pass to DK Metcalf with 15 seconds to go, his third of the game. After the Vikings failed to convert on fourth-and-1 from the Seattle 6-yard line with two minutes left, Minnesota still had a 91.4% chance to win the game, per ESPN. Yet it still seemed inevitable that Wilson would march the Seahawks down the field for the winning score. That’s the mark of an MVP. From the raw stats (72.8% completion rate, 1,502 passing yards, 19 TDs, three interceptions) to the advanced metrics (80.8 QBR, 0.375 expected points added per play, 12.5% completion percentage over expectation) to Seattle’s 5-0 record, everything is pointing in Wilson’s favor so far.
2. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (last week: No. 3)
Even with a bye in Week 5, Rodgers is still tied for the third-most touchdown passes in the league (13), leads all qualified passers in EPA per play (0.492) and has the most passing attempts of any quarterback without an interception (139). Green Bay will put its undefeated record on the line Sunday against the Buccaneers and Tom Brady, giving Rodgers another chance for a signature performance in front of a national audience. The 36-year-old is looking better than he has in years.
3. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (last week: No. 4)
Mahomes’ Chiefs lost for the first time since last November, falling to the Raiders in a shootout, 40-32, on Sunday to end a 13-game winning streak. The reigning Super Bowl MVP threw for 340 yards with two touchdowns and his first interception of the season and also scrambled for a 3-yard score, but was out-dueled by Derek Carr. Mahomes is still tied for the third-most
touchdown passes in the league (13), ranks third in QBR (86.3) and fifth in EPA per play (0.338) and has the Chiefs (4-1) sitting on top of the AFC West. Mahomes is on pace to put up huge numbers for perhaps the league’s best team.
4. Bills QB Josh Allen (last week: No. 2) Allen disappointed Tuesday night in a 42-16 blowout loss to the Titans, passing for 263 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions after throwing just one pick in his first four games. One bad game doesn’t derail his MVP campaign, nor the Bills’ season, but his performance against a team that missed two weeks of practices because of a COVID-19 outbreak is concerning. He still has 14 touchdown passes, second most in the league, and entered Tuesday with the second highest EPA per play (0.403), above Wilson and Mahomes. Monday night’s showdown against the Chiefs is a big opportunity to vault back into the top of the race.
5. Titans QB Ryan Tannehill (last week: not ranked)
So much for regression. Tannehill was expected to decline from his career-best season in 2019, when he was one of the league’s most efficient passers and helped lead a surprising run to the AFC championship game. Instead, he might have gotten even better. The eight-year veteran was nearly perfect in Tuesday night’s rout of the previously undefeated Bills, completing 21 of 28 passes for 195 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 42 yards and another score. He’s completing 68.9% of his attempts with nine touchdown passes and zero interceptions and entered Tuesday seventh in EPA per play (0.293).
In the running
Rams QB Jared Goff (last week: not ranked)
He’s not the type of quarterback who will impress with his raw numbers (274.4 yards per game, eight touchdowns, three interceptions), but he’s been ruthlessly efficient (71.7% completion, 9.0 yards per attempt, 0.334 EPA per play) leading coach Sean
McVay’s dizzying offense. The Rams are 4-1 and challenging the Seahawks for the top spot in a tough division.
Ravens QB Lamar Jackson (last week: No. 5)
Jackson has been inconsistent as a passer and less intimidating as a runner this season, evidenced by his performance Sunday against the Bengals (19-for-37 passing for 180 yards, two touchdowns and an interception with 3 rushing yards). The underlying numbers — 24th in EPA per play (0.097), 19th in CPOE (2.2%), 11th in QBR (75.6) — show a worse quarterback than Jackson’s raw stats would suggest, but the Ravens are 4-1 and have some big games coming up that could vault Jackson right back into the MVP conversation.
Raiders QB Derek Carr (last week: not ranked)
Taking down Mahomes and the Chiefs was a big moment for Carr, who had yet to win in Kansas City in six career games, losing by an average of 17 points. He threw for 347 yards with three touchdowns and an interception, comfortably pushing the ball downfield with scoring strikes of 59 and 72 yards.
Buccaneers QB Tom Brady (last week: not ranked)
It’s often said that the MVP is a narrative award, and Brady has one of the best in the league after leaving his Patriots dynasty behind for a new home in Tampa Bay. Not knowing it was fourth down with the game on the line in Thursday night’s loss to Super Bowl nemesis Nick Foles and the Bears is a strike against him, but he’s still performing at a high level (64.3% completion rate, 275 yards per game, 12 touchdowns, four interceptions) and has the Bucs (3-2) tied for first place in the NFC South.
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (last week: not ranked)
Big Ben doesn’t have the arm that once helped him lead the league in passing yards, but he’s done enough to keep the Steelers offense afloat through five games. He is completing nearly 70% of his passes, has 10 touchdown passes to just one interception and ranks ninth in EPA per play (0.268).
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is very much in contention for the NFL MVP award, but it’s still Russell Wilson’s to lose.