NFL: Early MVP Race – Who’s Gonna Win It?

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Published on 4 Oct 2022 5:49 pm (UK Time)

2022 is already setting up to be a wild season of football, even crazier than last year’s, which was unanimously agreed to be a rollercoaster ride of unpredictability, which ended with one of the most surprising Cinderella stories striking midnight as the Bengals fell to the Rams in Super Bowl 56 with a score of 23-20.

This season might just be an even bigger rollercoaster ride. Need proof? Look no further than the MVP odds following week three. I guarantee that at least 2 of those in the Top 5 you didn’t expect to be in the race at all.

Before we break down the Top 5, which is what we will be focusing on for this post, let’s look at those just outside of it.

Honorable Mentions

Taking up spots 10-6 in ascending order are Tom Brady (Buccaneers), Matthew Stafford (Rams), Joe Burrow (Bengals), Aaron Rodgers (Packers), and Justin Herbert (Chargers).

The most surprising entries are easily the two youngest of that collective, Burrow and Herbert, for how low they are. A lot of people thought Burrow had a good chance of taking home the MVP trophy, however, he has gotten off to a slow start, throwing 4 interceptions through his first two games, to just 3 touchdowns.

He managed to match that touchdown total against the Jets this past week, giving us a glimpse into his 2021 self, but if he really wants to prove himself he’ll have to match or at least come close to that performance against the currently undefeated Dolphins on Thursday.

As for Herbert, he’s performed well individually, sitting at 4th in passing yards and tied for 5th in passing touchdowns as he sports a 98.9 passer rating through these first three games. However, while he has played well, his team sits 1-2 on the season so far. Doesn’t make matters any better that their lone win so far has come against the only winless team in the NFL at the moment, the Las Vegas Raiders. His team’s overall performance is likely the reason he’s out of the top 5 in the MVP race as it stands.

A lot of the team’s struggles are due to injuries, so I’m sure Herbert and the Chargers will bounce back in the rankings (unless they turn into this year’s version of the 2021 Ravens), but they better do it soon because they play in one of the harder divisions with two teams currently ahead of them in the AFC West.

With the honorable mentions out of the way, let’s break down the top 5 candidates following week three.

5. Tua Tagovailoa – Miami Dolphins (+1400)

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Rounding out the top 5 is the quarterback that last year many considered to be the worst of the top 3 QBs taken in the 2020 draft. To be fair, Tua is up against stiff competition, which includes previously mentioned Burrow and Herbert, who both outplayed him last season.

However, it appears the tables have turned this season. Tua has been able to lead this team to a 3-0 start, the only other team to start out as well is the Philadelphia Eagles, whose own QB will be mentioned in a moment. Currently, the 3rd-year quarterback boasts the 4th-best completion percentage among starting quarterbacks, tied for the 3rd most touchdowns (although 3/4 of them came in one game), the 2nd most passing yards, and the 2nd-best passer rating.

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A lot of Tua’s success can be attributed to the weapons at his disposal. Miami has one of the most talented receiving cores in the league, headlined by Tyreek Hill and last year’s round-one pick Jaylen Waddle. Mike Gesicki is another great option to throw to and might just be the most underrated tight end in the league.

They need every ounce of Tua and the receiving room’s talent because the run game has been a concern before the season even kicked off and it’s for good reason. As it sits right now, the Dolphins are near the very bottom when it comes to rushing stats.

If the Dolphins can keep up their winning ways as the season moves forward, Tua could end up being a legitimate contender to take home the MVP.

4. Jalen Hurts – Philadelphia Eagles (+700)

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Like Tua, Jalen has been able to lead his team to a 3-0 start to kick off the season, and it isn’t just because of the team around him. Hurts has been able to rack up 1,083 total yards and 7 total TDs, 3 of them coming through the ground. It’s no wonder he has a very good 106.8 rating at the moment.

It isn’t only the undefeated start that the two former Alabama quarterbacks share, though. In fact, their situations are eerily similar. Both of their teams sought after a proven star receiver in the offseason (Tyreek Hill and A.J. Brown) to pair with a young wideout they drafted last season (Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith) and they both have solid tight ends to help take some of the weight of their receivers’ shoulders (Mike Gesicki and Dallas Goedert).

Conspiracy mumbo jumbo aside, Jalen Hurts has proven that he can certainly be the Eagles’ quarterback going forward after doubts set in about his future with the team last year and whether or not they should pursue another option.

Like for Tua, if Hurts and the Eagles can keep adding to the win column, I don’t see a reason why he won’t at least be in the conversation for taking home MVP honors. However, he is up against stiff competition with these top three…

3. Lamar Jackson – Baltimore Ravens (+700)

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Pay. The. Man.

Lamar Jackson might be having a better year than his incredible 2019 MVP season. As it stands right now, he is leading the league in two major passing categories, currently first in passing touchdowns and passer rating with an outstanding 119.0. On top of that, Jackson remains the quarterback with the most dangerous rushing game, and it’s not particularly close. Lamar Jackson is currently 5th in the league in rushing yards.

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Not just among QBs, but all players in the league, even beating out some of the best running backs in the league, such as Christian McCaffrey, Derrick Henry, and Dalvin Cook. Better yet, he is shedding the criticism that he is more of a runner than a passer. There’s a reason he’s top of the league in passer rating, after all.

Even in his team’s one loss, Jackson played spectacularly, throwing for 300+ yards and 3 TDs. He put his team in the perfect position to win, but a historic gaff by the defense led to Tua leading the Dolphins to a comeback after the Ravens had built up what appeared to be an insurmountable lead.

Still, his team is most likely going to take the AFC North this season as long as they don’t get bit by the injury bug again and the Louisville product keeps playing like he currently is. If he can keep up this production for the full 17 games, then he could very well break a few records. Right now, he’s on pace to break the single-season touchdown record, as, according to ESPN, he is projected to throw 57 of them.

As much as it pains me to say, being the fan of a division rival, Jackson is easily the best quarterback in the AFC North and certainly a top 3 quarterback in the AFC as a whole.

So, let me reiterate. Pay. The. Man.

2. Patrick Mahomes – Kansas City Chiefs (+550)

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Are you even surprised to see Mahomes in the MVP conversation for the fourth straight season? I’m more surprised that he hasn’t gotten a second one after winning his first in 2018, becoming the youngest quarterback in NFL history to be named the winner of the award.

Oh, well, I’m sure winning a Super Bowl title the very next season softens the blow.

The Chiefs quarterback will almost certainly have another eye-popping season, but at this point, it just feels like a regular occurrence for the kid from Tyler, Texas. Even with the loss of his favorite target, Tyreek Hill, who was traded away to Tua’s Dolphins during the off-season, Mahomes has still made it work with the likes of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mecole Hardman, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and, of course, arguably the best tight end in the league in Travis Kelce.

Through three games, Mahomes currently sits with an 8:1 TD-Interception ratio and the 3rd-best passer rating among starting QBs as he hopes to lead the Chiefs to their fourth straight AFC Championship. Yes, you read that right, the Chiefs have been in the AFC Championship four years in a row, and I’ll be very surprised if they don’t make it a fifth.

The Chiefs had an off-week against the Colts, where they looked incredibly sloppy in a game they should’ve won handily, however, I wouldn’t be too worried about it. They were still a healthy Harrison Butker and questionable unsportsmanlike conduct call away from being 3-0 right now.

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1. Josh Allen – Buffalo Bills (+330)

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The preseason favorite to win the award remains the frontrunner after three weeks, and for good reason. Allen leads the league in passing yards and is second in passing touchdowns. He has also proven to be a danger on the ground, currently fourth among quarterbacks in rushing yards behind Jackson, Hurts, and Daniel Jones.

It took a few years for the Wyoming product to blossom, having his first true superstar-caliber season last year after being drafted all the way back in 2018, but he’s been everything as advertised. And he could solidify that by taking home MVP honors this season, which, unlike the previous two entries, would be his first one.

The team is coming off a brutal 2-point loss to the currently undefeated Miami Dolphins, but when you throw for 400 yards and a pair of touchdowns, it’s hard to put the blame on Allen. Despite now being a game behind their division rivals down south, I still feel that the Bills will take home the division, and likely get revenge on the Dolphins once it’s their turn to visit Buffalo.

Though, while the MVP is a regular season award, I think Allen will truly prove his worth in the post-season. Like Lamar Jackson mentioned above, Allen’s yet to see any true post-season success. They did make it to the Conference Championship a couple years ago, but was stifled by Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, the same thing happening the very next season in a wild Divisional Round game.

Making the Conference Championship is impressive, but the question has to be asked: When will Allen lead this team to the promised land? In my opinion, this season will be theirs, so long as they aren’t victims of the injury bug. Well, more so than they already have been. If Allen can keep up his play, I think this will finally be the season he overcomes Mahomes and gets to the Big Game.

Conclusion: Who Will Win It?

I know it’s too early to truly dictate who will take home the award, but sports is all about predictions. So, I’ll submit my own and see how well- or poorly- it ages.

I agree with the current odds, Josh Allen will win his first MVP this year. This year’s roster of MVP candidates is even more stacked than usual, especially with Lamar Jackson looking to prove himself on a contract year, but I still think Allen will take home the honors and win his first MVP award. Though, I wouldn’t be too surprised if Jackson builds together a good enough season to swipe it from under him.

Still, I’d bet on Allen to be the 2022 NFL MVP.

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