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NFL Draft

2020 NFL MVP Watch: Russell Wilson In A Race Of His Own

  • The Draft Network
  • October 7, 2020
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We’re a quarter of the way through the 2020 NFL season with things getting more precarious amid the current COVID-19 outbreak in Tennessee. 

While we wait to see how the league attempts to continue operating a season as scheduled, if and when this point comes, there are clear MVP favorites—and that shortlist has yet to change four weeks into the season.

Here are 10 players to watch in the NFL’s MVP race:

Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks

Last week: No. 1

Russell Wilson is playing out of his mind. The ninth-year quarterback has yet to receive an MVP award or even a vote despite consistently keeping the Seattle Seahawks relevant—and winning. This season is no different.

The Seahawks have finally bought into letting Wilson cook earlier; passing 10-fold on early downs. Wilson has been relishing in this, and, in turn, Seattle is 4-0 to start the season. According to statistics gathered by The Athletic’s Ben Baldwin, the Seahawks are “the pass-happiest team in the league.” I’ll add that this only helps Wilson’s MVP case, because, even though Wilson is passing sooner and more frequently, he’s still playing behind a bad offensive line with inconsistencies in the receiving corps and running back room. Wilson still has to get himself out of trouble, still has to scramble for first downs and touchdowns, and is still largely responsible for the team’s success.  

Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: No. 2

There are few players who can really challenge Wilson and one is Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. If Wilson is as efficient as ever than Mahomes is as exciting as ever, and it has shown in Kansas City’s 4-0 record.

Mahomes is ranked in the top three for DYAR, DVOA, and quarterback rating, according to Football Outsiders, and is on pace for a 4,500-plus yard, 44-touchdown season. The rate in which Kansas City is dominating its opponents, sans an impressive performance from the Los Angeles Chargers that threatened its undefeated record, is teeing Mahomes and company up for another Super Bowl run. Who else recently led their team to back-to-back Super Bowls? Wilson. The difference between the two is everything is, more or less, working in Mahomes’ favor.

Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens

Last week: No. 3

The other passer who can challenge Wilson for this year’s award is the league’s reigning MVP, Lamar Jackson. Jackson returned to form after the Baltimore Ravens’ Week 3 loss to Kansas City and looked very much like the player we’re used to seeing. In the Ravens’ 31-17 win against the Washington Football Team, Jackson had 193 passing yards, 53 rushing yards, and three total touchdowns.

Jackson did throw his first interception of the season in Week 4, but no one can be perfect. Jackson remains one of the most fun quarterbacks to watch. If he, along with the Ravens, can continue winning, which they should with the Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, and Indianapolis Colts waiting the next four weeks, then Jackson will further add to his MVP case.

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

Last week: No. 4

Many of us are in a conundrum and actively rooting for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Whether it was divisional ties, conference rivals, or certain off-putting personality traits, Rodgers was often polarizing for fans. Now, most people just want to see Rodgers continuing to have fun. I mean, just look at him.

The fun Rodgers is having in his 16th season with the Green Bay Packers (and more notably his second under head coach Matt LaFleur) has put his name toward the top of many MVP watchlists, including this one. Rodgers has already won this award in 2011 and 2014; his current 2020 stat projections top both MVP seasons.

Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills

Last week: No. 5

Does MVP mean the league’s absolute best, most unbeatable player? I would argue not necessarily, throw Josh Allen’s name into the conversation, and run. There is plenty Allen still needs to get right; he’s only in his third season, but his current completion percentage and touchdown-to-interception ratio show the ability to improve and adapt early. These are MVP traits.

The Buffalo Bills are one of six unbeaten teams with narrow wins over the Los Angeles Rams and Las Vegas Raiders; obviously tougher opponents than the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. Allen’s being discussed more in MVP conversations as his odds rise, but going up against the aforementioned quarterbacks is a tall task. If anything, a few votes will give the younger passer some extra confidence.

Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints 

Last week: No. 7

There are a number of non-quarterbacks who are making their own cases for an MVP award; I also don’t think there are currently 10 passers who could make up this list. When considering skill players, Alvin Kamara should be one of the first names that come to mind.

Kamara is consistently the best player on the New Orleans Saints, and he’s dominating the competition. He has 557 combined yards and averages 139.3 yards from scrimmage per game. The Saints are trying to maximize their playoff window with quarterback Drew Brees and continually feeding Kamara the ball can ensure another deep postseason run they weren’t afforded last season.

Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals

Last week: No. 6

Quarterback Kyler Murray came out of the Arizona Cardinals’ Week 4 loss with 133 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, and 78 rushing yards. Despite the 31-21 defeat at the hands of the rebuilding Carolina Panthers, Murray had his best statistical game to date with a 77.4% completion rate and a season-high three touchdown passes.

Murray might still be playing well, but it didn’t translate into wins. While there’s room to interrupt what makes a player most valuable, winning is non-negotiable. The Cardinals are beginning to regress after a hot start. Arizona needs to quickly recalibrate and help its young passer maximize his time with some of the best pass-catchers in the league, Larry Fitzgerald, and DeAndre Hopkins. 

Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers

Last week: N/A

If Rodgers is having fun then that must mean the offense is buzzing, and a lot of the Packers’ offense runs through Aaron Jones. He has 374 rushing yards, four rushing touchdowns, and shares a good chunk of the team’s receiving yards (135) with two receiving touchdowns.

Jones has been in and out of MVP conversations, and while his last two performances haven’t been as exciting as Weeks 1-2, he is still successfully finding the end zone and getting points on the board for the Packers. The true test will come when he faces a tough run defense in Tampa Bay after Green Bay’s bye.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: No. 9

We’re now introducing bye weeks, well, kind of. It would be unfair to completely leave quarterback Ben Roethlisberger off of this list because the Pittsburgh Steelers had an unforeseen week off.

The 3-0 Pittsburgh Steelers will return to play against the Eagles on Sunday and, while Philadelphia has struggled to string wins together, its passing defense has been one of the better units across the league. We’ll continue to see what Roethlisberger has left in the tank this week and if it improves his case.

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans

Last week: No. 10

Again, the current coronavirus outbreak within the Titans organization precluded the Week 3 matchup with the Steelers and continued positive cases and the recent report that members of the team violated team and league COVID-19 protocols give us more questions than answers. 

As far as the MVP race, quarterback Ryan Tannehill has made his case after winning Comeback Player of the Year last season. Whether we’ll be able to see him in Week 4 is still unknown, but as of right now, he roughly sits in about the same spot.

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