Aaron Rodgers leads the MVP race among 4 elite quarterbacks
Updated: Dec 31, 2020
Aaron Rodgers leads the MVP race among 4 elite quarterbacks and several skill players with record numbers
Just one week remains in the 2020 NFL season, and the MVP race is coming to a close. With 16 weeks of action in the books, we took a look at this year's neck-and-neck race between four elite quarterbacks having monster seasons and several skill players putting their names in the record books.
Things could change in Week 17, particularly in the statistical department, but here are our picks for MVP as the season comes to a close.
1. Aaron Rodgers, QB Team: Green Bay Packers Age: 36 2020 stats: 70.3% completion, 4,059 passing yards, 44 passing TD, 5 INT, 119.4 passer rating, 12-3 record What to know: Rodgers is having his best season since his MVP campaign in 2011. He's throwing fewer passes but is more efficient than ever, setting a career-high in completion percentage and his best adjusted yards per pass attempt since 2014 and his third-best overall. With two touchdowns next week, he'd set a career-high in TDs. Only six quarterbacks have attempted at least 450 passes with a touchdown percentage greater than 8% — Rodgers, Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner, and Dan Marino. This is Rodgers' second season doing it.
Narrative helps, too: Rodgers was coming off of two mediocre seasons, and many thought he was over-the-hill. The Packers traded up to draft quarterback Jordan Love as his future replacement. His supporting cast was deemed weaker than other top QBs. None of it has stopped Rodgers from putting together one of the best seasons of his 16-year career and leading the Packers to the top seed in the competitive NFC. Patrick Mahomes. Team: Kansas City Chiefs Age: 25 2020 stats: 66.3% completion, 4,740 passing yards, 38 passing TD, 6 INT, 108.2 passer rating, 14-1 record What to know: Mahomes is a victim of his own standards. He is the best quarterback in the NFL and is leading the best team. Yet the Chiefs seem to find themselves in tight games each week, even against lesser opponents. and Mahomes has dialed back some of the magical plays that launched him onto the scene in 2018. (Or perhaps we've just gotten too used to it). Mahomes is a deserving MVP, but he had to defy his own lofty standards to stand out with so many excellent QB seasons.
3. Josh Allen, QB Team: Buffalo Bills Age: 24 2020 stats: 69.1% completion, 4,320 passing yards, 34 passing TD, 9 INT, 106.4 passer rating, 12-3 record What to know: If the NFL had a "Most Improved Player" award, Allen would win it. The Bills' third-year QB has gone from an exciting prospect to a fully realized franchise quarterback. He has taken command of the field and offense in a way that he couldn't in his first two seasons and uses his incredible arm and improvisation to create plays out of nothing, all while dialing back some of his previous head-scratching mistakes.
4. Russell Wilson, QB Team: Seattle Seahawks Age: 32 2020 stats: 69.7% completion, 4,031 passing yards, 38 passing TD, 13 INT, 106.3 passer rating, 11-4 record What to know: The second half of the season skews our memories and opinions, but MVP is a full-season award, and Wilson was the best quarterback for the first half of the season. Playing under the mantra, "Let Russ cook," Wilson began the year showing off the best combination of a big arm and pinpoint accuracy in the NFL: perhaps no one uncorks rainbow passes that plop directly into the receiver's arms like Wilson. The Seahawks' offense has stagnated in the latter part of the season while Wilson's gaudy first-half numbers declined. However, Wilson is still likely to set a career-high in passing yards, to go with a career-high in passing TDs, while leading the Seahawks to another NFC West title. Derrick Henry. Team: Tennessee Titans Age: 26 2020 stats: 344 carries, 1,777 rushing yards, 15 rushing TD, 5.2 YPC, 118.5 rushing yards per game, 10-5 record What to know: Perhaps no offensive player strikes fear into opposing defenders like Henry. The fifth-year back has been unleashed in the Titans offense and has bruised his way to No. 1 in carries, rushing yards, rushing TDs, and rushing yards per game, breaking tackles and stiff-arming opponents into oblivion. Some other skill players benefit from their offense; Henry is the focal point of an efficient Titans offense, opening up things for others. T.J. Watt. Team: Pittsburgh Steelers Age: 26 2020 stats: 53 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, 1 INT, 2 forced fumbles, 12-3 record What to know: Watt is the backbone of the scariest defense in the league. He leads the NFL in sacks and tackles for losses and is increasingly doing it against increased attention from offensive lines, as the Steelers have lost key players to injury. He is the first Steelers player and 14th NFL player ever with back-to-back seasons of 14+ sacks.
7. Travis Kelce, TE Team: Kansas City Chiefs Age: 31 2020 stats: 105 catches, 1,416 receiving yards, 11 receiving TD, 72.4% catch. 14-1 record What to know: Here is the list of tight ends to record at least 1,400 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in a season: Travis Kelce. Kelce has had arguably the greatest season ever for a tight end. Only four other tight ends in NFL history had over 100 catches, and none more than Kelce. Kelce leads the NFL in receiving first downs and is second with 597 yards after the catch. In a Chiefs offense with numerous weapons, he is ol' reliable for Patrick Mahomes.
8. Davante Adams Team: Green Bay Packers Age: 28 2020 stats: 109 catches, 1,328 receiving yards, 17 receiving TD, 76.2% catch, 12-3 record What to know: Separating Adams' impact with Rodgers' impact can be tricky. After all, Rodgers looks Adams' way frequently and can put a ball in the tightest of windows for Adams to make a grab. But Adams also gets open in a way few others can — with flawless technique and sudden shifts to blow past opposing corners. Adams' 2020 numbers are impressive enough before considering that he missed two games. His 16-game pace: 134 catches, 1,634 yards, 21 touchdowns — unmatched numbers in NFL history. Honorable mentions: Stefon Diggs, WR (Buffalo Bills), Jalen Ramsey, CB (Los Angeles Rams), Dalvin Cook, RB (Minnesota Vikings), Alvin Kamara, RB (New Orleans Saints), Xavien Howard, CB (Miami Dolphins), Tom Brady, QB (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
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