NFL MVP Watch: Divisional Round
The NFL MVP race has been a close and exciting one to watch, hasn’t it?
With each passing week making us scratch our heads saying to ourselves “Well, it could be Mahomes that wins it. But oh wait, Hurts and Burrow are good too.”
Per usual, there is no clear-cut winner. Well, unless you’re a Chiefs, Bengals or Eagles fan.
But we can narrow this race down a smidge by diving into the specifics of this season.
Since Adrian Peterson won MVP back in 2012, the trophy has been awarded to strictly quarterbacks. Leaving out potential cases for Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson or Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill, despite their terrific seasons. The aforementioned star receivers are instead candidates for the Offensive Player of the Year award.
So that leaves us with four quarterbacks to consider for MVP. But especially three of those four, with Josh Allen getting the short end of the stick.
Allen showed us again in various instances that he can be an absolute game manager, and win the Bills tight games. But a critic looks at the instances where Allen fell flat. The glaring one being the AFC Divisional Round at home against the Bengals.
Now I know that MVP voting is based on regular season performance, but the Buffalo and Cincinnati game was an example of where Allen has his struggles.
Allen had zilch passing touchdowns – ouch Bills fans – and an interception late in the game for the Bengals to punch their ticket to their second consecutive AFC Championship appearance. Making Bills Mafia wonder if their beloved quarterback can get to the big game.
Looking at the big picture, Allen finished the season tied for second in passing touchdowns with 35 end-zone strikes. Trailing Patrick Mahomes and tying Joe Burrow. But turning the ball over was a problem.
Allen threw 14 interceptions this season. Placing him behind Dak Prescott and Davis Mills who lead in that category. Allen also finished tied for second in fumbles lost, with only Trevor Lawrence having more. The turnover issues and moments of little productivity puts Allen out of the MVP candidacy.
Let’s flip over though to abundant productivity, and figure out who has a good shot of winning this thing.
Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts was spectacular this season, losing only one game and accounting for 22 passing and 13 rushing touchdowns. He didn’t turn the ball over very often either, throwing just six interceptions and fumbling twice and being the heart of an elite offense.
So Hurts was quite the force to be reckoned with, as the only prominent argument against him is two games missed to injury and his passing touchdowns are pretty low compared to Mahomes and Burrow; the other two candidates that really catch my attention.
Burrow had a rough start to the season – especially week one against the Steelers – but really saved face in the second half where we saw his touchdowns dramatically increase and turnovers decrease. His patience in the pocket and ability to dissect defenses has been incredible to watch, and if for a better first half of the season, might be at even higher odds for an MVP award.
So that leaves us with none other than Mahomes, who leads the NFL with 5,250 passing yards, 41 passing touchdowns and a 105.2 passer rating. He is looking for not only his second MVP, but his second Super Bowl ring as well.
Mahomes led his squad to a 14-3 record with the No. 1 seed in the AFC, and the Chiefs are remarkably going to a fifth straight AFC Championship. With the explosive offense leading the NFL in various stats; notably in average points per game (29.2).
Mahomes’ MVP odds are looking very good and a matchup against Burrow with a trip to Super Bowl LVII on the line is must-watch television.
Jake Irwin is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.