Tha Sports Junkies 101

Making A Case For The 2016 NFL’s Most Valuable Player

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With just three weeks left in the NFL season, a handful of players will try to make their case for MVP.

It is week 15 in the 2016 NFL season, and we still don’t have a clear-cut MVP candidate. People tend to get the term “Most Valuable Player” confused with what is believed to be the “best” player in the NFL. Being the most valuable player to one’s team means that without that player, the team would not have the success that they are having. If there was a “Most Outstanding Player” award, then it might clear things up. Now that we got that out of the way, lets dive into the top five candidates that I believe have stated a good enough case to be in the conversation for MVP.

*These are in no particular order*

Matthew Stafford

Matthew Stafford has the Detroit Lions in the second seed in the NFC, and he is doing it without Calvin Johnson. The Lions have trailed in the second half in all but one game this season, and Stafford has led his team to come from behind victories in eight of their nine wins. Surprisingly, the Lions have chance to clinch the NFC North with a win and a Green Bay Packers loss this weekend.

Stafford has posted 22 touchdowns in comparison to just 7 interceptions, which is tied for third fewest in the NFL with quarterbacks who have more than 3,000 yards passing. He has thrown for 3,447 yards without having a single receiver in the top 25 in the NFL in receiving yards. He has found a way to spread the ball around evenly between all of weapons, while still being able to post a 97.8 passer rating.

With the Lions defense posting the 28th ranked 3rd down defense, and just holding a 2.1 average point differential in their nail-biting season. Stafford has a chance to lead his team to the first NFC North title since it was the NFC Central in 1993, when he was just five years old. Before the season started, Stafford wasn’t perceived to be a MVP canidate but with the playoffs on the horizon it is becoming more of a reality that the Lions may have their first NFL MVP since Barry Sanders had to share the award with Brett Favre in 1997.

Matt Ryan

The Atlanta Falcons currently sit in first place in the NFC South, and their quarterback Matt Ryan is having one of his best seasons of his career. He currently sits second only to Drew Brees in passing yards with 4,050 with a 68% completion rate. He is also second in the league in passer rating, behind Tom Brady who has played four fewer games.

Matt Ryan has had the help of one of best weapons in the NFL in Julio Jones, who has 1,253 of those yards. But even with one of the top receivers in the NFL, Matt Ryan has been extremely impressive in leading his team. With the Falcons being just the 16th best rush offense in the league, Ryan has still been able to lead his offense to 32.9 points per game, the highest average in the NFL.

With 30 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, Ryan has been able to help his team hold onto the ball and give themselves more chances to win. With the Falcons final three games coming against opponents all ranking in the bottom ten in pass defense, Ryan has a chance to shoot his numbers sky-high and make a push for MVP.

Aaron Rodgers

When every Green Bay Packers fan was losing their mind and freaking out, Aaron Rodgers was totally relaxed. That poise has helped the Packers get back into the playoff race, as they sit one game back of the Wild Card race. Rodgers is currently posting the best touchdown to interception ratio with an NFL-high 32 touchdowns to 7 interceptions.

With the Green Bay Packers essentially having no running backs, Rodgers has kept it together while the offense hasn’t even averaged 100 rush yards per game. And even the offense being essentially one-dimensional, Rodgers has beat the defense on third downs 47.1% of the time, good enough for second in the NFL.

If the Packers can find a way to win out, and get some help from the teams ahead of them in the playoff race, Rodgers will have a case for himself for MVP. And while Rodgers may not get very much help from any of his defense, or any help at all, if he is able to lead his team into the playoffs it will be an incredible feat that will not go unnoticed.

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Tom Brady

I have gone back and forth on this one, but at the end of the day I remind myself that he is Tom Brady and he should always be in the conversation for the MVP, even at the age of 39. The New England Patriots currently sit in first place in the AFC with a chance to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs. And now without Rob Gronkowski, if Brady is still able to lead the Patriots to first place, it will make it even more impressive.

Without Tom Brady, the Patriots went 3-1, and with him they have gone 8-1. It is hard to gauge how much of this success has been on him and how much has been on coaching, but this is why their consistency has been unmatched throughout Brady‘s career. Brady has been incredibly efficient this season, posting the highest passer rating in the league with a 113.6 while throwing 22 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions.

The Patriots are an incredible team, and no matter the amount of injuries their team has sustained, they continue to be one of the best teams, if not the best, in the NFL. But the best way I can describe Tom Brady is by comparing him to Lebron James, because it is obviously known that they are the best athlete on their team and their presence can’t be measured. If the Patriots finish in first place, and Brady continues to have the highest passer rating in the NFL, he will have his own case for MVP.

Derek Carr

The youngest player on this list has been the front-runner for the award for most of the season, and he has the Oakland Raiders one win away from their first playoff berth since they lost the Super Bowl in the 2002 NFL season. Derek Carr has had so many heroics this year that have made his case so much more dramatic than anyone else up until this point in the season. In just his third season in the NFL, Carr has a chance to become the youngest MVP in NFL history at the age of 25.

Just like the other guys on this list, Carr has a great touchdown to interception ratio with 24 to 5. He has benefited from having an incredible offensive line, and has only been sacked 13 times on the season. But this also has to do with his ability to get the ball out of his hands so quickly, while averaging 7 yards per pass which is 19th in the NFL. It may sound like a bad statistic to have, but it isn’t when you consider the fact that his short passes have helped him post a 96 passer rating.

The Oakland Raiders defense has been abysmal this season, allowing the third most yards in the NFL only behind the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers. No other candidate on this list has a worse defense to back them up, and with the second most 4th quarter comebacks this season, Derek Carr will continue to make his case for MVP as they push their way towards the playoffs.

Statistics were referenced via NFL GSIS, Pro Football Focus, and the official NFL website