This is shaping up to be one of those year’s with no slam-dunk MVP candidate. So after six weeks, who has the best shot at the title? In no particular order, here’s our current top 10.
Quarterback Tom Brady: Despite the fact that he missed the first four games, the quarterback has suddenly injected himself into the MVP discussion with a dynamite pair of games, the likes of which we haven’t seen from him before.
As strange as it sounds, even after his four-game exile to start the season. he’s as good a candidate as anyone at this point on the calendar. Overall, Brady has completed 76 percent of his passes and thrown for 782 yards, to go along with six touchdowns and no interceptions. Unless someone on a high-profile team gets hot and separates himself from the rest of the pack (like a 20-sack season from Von Miller, for example), he should be able to stick around and be a part of the conversation, provided he stays healthy. (At least the oddsmakers like his chances.)
Linebacker Von Miller: You can certainly make a case for the best defensive player on the best defense in the league, especially (as we said) if he’s able to break out with some sort of big numbers. He’s on his way with a league-best 7.5 sacks in six games. From this viewpoint, as long as the Broncos remain in the race, Miller will get plenty of votes.
Running back Ezekiel Elliott: Why not? The Elliott/Dak Prescott combo has injected new life into the Dallas offense. Elliott has 703 rushing yards through six games, and a 2,000-yard season and postseason berth for the Cowboys would certainly get him MVP consideration. He could end up splitting votes with Prescott — who will be the default Dallas candidate, especially if he continues to play well — but from this viewpoint, we’d be more inclined to cast our ballot for Elliott.
Quarterback Matt Ryan: The Falcons are a surprising 4-2, and the 31-year-old Ryan is a big reason why. The former BC product has completed 68 percent of his passes for 2,075 yards, with 15 touchdowns, three interceptions, and a passer rating of 117.9 (best in the NFL among starters). It might not be sustainable, but he’s made as good a case as anyone to be consider the first ex-Boston College player to win an NFL MVP award.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger: Roethlisberger is out for this week’s game against the Patriots, but through the first six games, he’s led the Steelers to a 4-2 starts, and has been right there when it comes to statistical totals. The Steelers’ signal-caller is at or near the top of the league in most major passing categories, including completion rate (64 percent), total passing yards (1,685), touchdowns (16), just six picks and a passer rating of 99.2.
Quarterback Russell Wilson: Wilson will never overwhelm you with crazy numbers, but his ability to keep his head in big games as the quarterback for one of the best teams in the league wins him a spot on this list. The Seahawks are 4-1, while Wilson is clicking with a 66 percent completion rate, 1,334 passing yards, five touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 97. Again, not overwhelming, but his performance as the centerpiece of one of the best team’s in the league should be enough to keep him in the conversation.
Wide receiver Julio Jones: While Ryan will likely get the bulk of the NFC South votes, Jones should at least get some consideration. In a year where there have been some really good performances from some really good receivers, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Jones has been the best of the best to this point on the calendar. Heading into Thursday night, he leads the league in receiving yards (656) and is third in yards per catch (21.2), to go along with 31 total catches. That includes the sort of signature game that voters love, a 12-catch, 300-yard outing against Carolina.
Running back Le’Veon Bell: Oh my God. Those were the three words that patriots coach Bill Belichick used when asked about Bell on Thursday. And while national voters will likely defer to Roethlisberger (or wide receiver Antonio Brown) when considering the Steelers’ MVP candidates, Bell has been awesome since he returned to the field. The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder, the fastest player in league history to reach 3,000 yards rushing and 1,500 yards receiving, is a multidimensional threat: in just three games, he has 48 carries for 263 yards an an impressive 5.5 yards per carry average, and is second on the team in catches with 20 receptions on 24 targets for 177 yards. A strong finish rest of the year will certainly bolster his credentials.
Running back LeSean McCoy: We struggled with whether to go with McCoy or Arizona’s David Johnson, but from this viewpoint, Shady has earned his spot. McCoy is the only back in the league in the top 3 in total rushing yards (587), yards per carry (5.6) and rushing touchdowns (6). He’s also got 20 catches for 97 yards and a receiving touchdown. If there’s a national face of the Bills early-season turnaround, it’s McCoy.
Quarterback Sam Bradford: Look, I’m going to level with you: I’m sure sure I want to be a part of a football world where Sam Bradford is getting MVP consideration. But given the fact that he’s the starting quarterback on one of the best teams in the league through six games, well, here we are. Bradford has done well managing the Minnesota offense to start the season with a 70 percent completion rate, 990 passing yards, six touchdowns, no picks and a 109.8 passer rating. I don’t expect it to last, but as long as the Vikings’ defense is carrying the rest of the team, he’s going to be part of the conversation.