The NFL MVP race has become more clear in recent weeks, but not necessarily due to terrific play.
In fact, this year’s MVP race has been less impressive than year’s past due to injuries.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was considered the frontrunner before tearing his ACL in Week 14. Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown looked to be on pace to become the first wide receiver to ever win the award but went down with a partially torn calf muscle in Sunday’s loss to New England.
The injuries have put Tom Brady and Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley in the driver’s seat for the award, but it’s not as though their numbers have been jaw-dropping this season.
The Patriots future Hall of Fame quarterback posted a better passer rating last season when he finished second in MVP voting and had thrown the same amount of touchdowns (28) with five fewer interceptions in two fewer games. Brady is leading the league in passing yards (4,163), but only two quarterbacks, Brady and Ben Roethlisberger, have over 4,000 yards passing on the year.
By comparison, 13 quarterbacks threw over 4,000 yards last season. There are still two weeks remaining in the regular season, but it also must be noted that only nine quarterbacks have over 3,500 yards passing through 14 games.
Gurley also deserves plenty of credit for his impressive play this season, and likely only trails Brady by a short margin due to his play the past two weeks. The Rams third-year running back leads the league with 13 rushing touchdowns and has set career-high numbers across the board.
In his first season under head coach Sean McVay, Gurley has amassed 1,187 rushing yards and has vastly improved his play a receiver out of the backfield. The 6-foot-1, 227-pound running back has caught 54 passes for 630 yards and has scored another four touchdowns as a receiving option.
Gurley has two more opportunities to boost his numbers down the stretch, but many will surely compare his final numbers to Ezekiel Elliott’s stats last season. The Cowboys rookie running back lead the league with 1,631 rushing yards and scored 15 touchdowns.
Elliott finished fourth in the MVP voting last season, trailing last year’s winner, Matt Ryan, Brady and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell, and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees are some other players worthy of consideration for the coveted award. But in the end, it’s likely to come down to a two-man race between the NFL’s top quarterback and the league’s best running back.
The Patriots and Brady host AFC East rivals Buffalo and New York in the final two weeks, while Gurley and the Rams take on the Titans and 49ers in their final two regular season games.