Who’s Leading the NFL MVP Race?
One former winner may have the edge in a crowded group
At the halfway point of the season, we normally have some clarity into the NFL MVP race. Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson for example were dominating the league come midseason, all but guaranteeing the award in their favor. This year, however, things have been a bit more complicated. Instead of one front runner, there are multiple players still positioned to take home the award. But for this list, we’re going to look at the top three candidates. Let’s get into it.
3. Matthew Stafford (LA, QB)
Many believe Matthew Stafford has had MVP ability his entire career. He unfortunately has just been stuck in Detroit. Well now in Los Angeles, Stafford finds himself in the heart of the MVP race.
The new Rams quarterback has been sensational this year. He leads the league in passing yards (2,771) and is second in passing touchdowns (23). So why is he third on the list?
Well, it’d be fair to say Stafford has a lot working in his favor. He has a running back in Darrell Henderson Jr. that is seventh in rushing yards. He has two receivers who rank in the top 22 for receiving yards. One of those being Cooper Kupp, who has simply been special as he has over 120 more yards than the second leading receiver in the NFL. On top of that, Stafford also has a dominant offensive line (ranked fourth by Pro Football Focus).
Along with the loaded supporting cast, Stafford also gets bumped down this list due to recency bias. LA is coming off a 28–16 loss at home to the Derrick Henry-less Tennessee Titans. In that game, Stafford threw two interceptions and finished with a QBR of just over 17. For now, Stafford sits at third in this race.
2. Tom Brady (TB, QB)
He really doesn’t ever go away, does he? Well, here we are again. At 44 years old we find Tom Brady in yet another MVP discussion. And it’s not just narrative either.
Brady has been balling out so far. He’s currently second in passing yards with 2,565. He, however, ranks first in passing yards per game (331.3) and passing touchdowns (25). Brady has also thrown just five interceptions all year.
Much like Stafford though, Brady also fails to claim the top spot due to the supporting cast. Three receivers for Tampa have over 400 yards, which would rank in the top 50 in the league. Along with that Leonard Fournette has returned to his old form, totaling over 650 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns. The Bucs’ o-line is also a force, ranking third in the league according to PFF.
Brady has all the help he could ask for, and he’s making good use of it. For now, though, he comes in at second place.
1. Lamar Jackson (BAL, QB)
A former MVP finds himself positioned for another one.
Lamar Jackson has done it all for the Baltimore Ravens this season. He currently ranks in the top ten in both passing yards (ninth-most) and rushing yards (sixth-most). Along with that, he has 15 total touchdowns. No one is doing it like Lamar.
Unlike Brady and Stafford however, Lamar doesn’t have the benefit of a great supporting cast. Yes, Hollywood Brown has been enjoying a breakout year (sixth in receiving yards), while Mark Andrews continues to be his same reliable self. Outside of that though, it’s Lamar or bust for Baltimore.
No team has dealt with injuries more than the Ravens. Baltimore leads the league in total players who are currently or have been on the injured/reserve list with 29. And it’s not like they’re just losing no-name guys. According to Spotrac, the Ravens have lost 20.75% of their current cap space to injury, which is second-most in the NFL.
This has led to Lamar having to be Superman for his team. So far so good. The Ravens don’t always make it look easy, but Jackson is there to save the day. He leads the league with four fourth-quarter comeback wins this season, and has Baltimore atop of the division with a 6–2 record. As of right now, you have to give the MVP to Lamar Jackson.