by Hayden Downer (7th)
As a crazy NFL season is coming to a close, many questions linger around the league, as eliminated teams search for an answer to their problems. One question that has been on everyone’s minds, however, is the MVP (most valuable player) award. Who should win it? And more importantly, why should they win it? Well, there are plenty of candidates, all with shining resumes. Let’s check them out and see how they stack up.
What does “MVP” even mean?
While MVP officially means “most valuable player,” it doesn’t just come down to how valuable a player is to a certain team. If that were true, there would be about 50 different players who could be up for the award. While value to a team does matter, it isn’t the deciding factor.
One of the biggest factors that is in play when talking about the award is statistics. Obviously, players who have put up insane numbers in a season are going to be considered for it. For example, the regular-season average for passing yards in a season is about 3,800 yards. According to profootballreference.com, in 2017, Tom Brady had 4,577 passing yards, which considering the average was 200 yards less than, is a well “above average” season—this made him the clear favorite (and winner) of the 2017 MVP award.
Lastly, the performance of the team the player plays for is important as well. You wouldn’t see a player from the Houston Texans or the Carolina Panthers winning an MVP right now, right? Teams like the Chiefs, Eagles, Bills, and 49ers could have some leverage over others due to the team they play on.
In essence, all 3 play a factor to some degree.
Who are the favorites?
In reality, there are only three players that could truly win the award. Sure, there are other players that had great seasons, but only these 3 had truly “incredible” seasons.
First off, we have the hometown hero, Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. After a good 2021 leading the Eagles to a wild card spot, Hurts built on it tremendously by taking a big step forward to become one of the NFL’s brightest young players, leading the Eagles to the NFC’s best record.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an MVP conversation without perennial MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs quarterback put up stupendous numbers as he led Kansas City to yet another AFC West title and the best record in the AFC.
Last but not least, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson has become a sensation across the league, sending shockwaves throughout the league. He has almost single-handedly taken his Vikings to a NFC North title and a playoff berth through his great play and ability to stay cool under pressure.
Who should win the award?
Now that we know what the MVP award is based on, let’s compare all of them. Starting off with the easiest to measure, which is team success. All of the players mentioned made the playoffs, with Mahomes’ Chiefs and Hurts’ Eagles both going 14-3 and making their conference championship games.
While Jefferson’s Vikings won (an albeit weak) NFC North, they couldn’t get past the 7th seeded New York Giants in the Wild Card round in the playoffs. Overall, Hurts and Mahomes are on the same level, while Jefferson is a little bit behind on that front.
Statistics are a whole different ball game however, as it focuses strictly on the individual performance of the player. Comparing Hurts to Mahomes is like comparing Apples to Oranges, because they are completely different Quarterbacks. Hurts is a mobile QB who likes to use his legs, while Mahomes is a pocket passer.
Obviously, Hurts has more rushing yards (760) and rushing touchdowns (13), and Mahomes has more passing yards (5,250) and passing touchdowns (41). Jefferson is having a historic season for a wide receiver, posting nearly 1,900 yards (the average is around 600) which is the 6th highest all time in a single season. While that is certainly impressive, he only had 8 receiving touchdowns, which wasn’t even in the top 10 in the league.
Lastly, we have their value to their team. While all of them are critical to their team’s respective success, I feel as though Jefferson actually is the most critical to his team. Sure, the Eagles and Chiefs would be much less likely to win a Super Bowl without their star quarterbacks, but the Vikings wouldn’t even be near the playoffs without Justin Jefferson. According to vikings.com, the official team website, Jefferson has contributed 1,866 yards in the 18 games he’s played this season. Which is roughly 40% of the Vikings total yards this season, the highest of all time. He is the Minnesota Vikings.
While all of them certainly have a case, the all-around performance of Patrick Mahomes simply isn’t matched by any other player in the league. His team success, statistics, and value to his team is paramount to any other player, and to me at least, he seems like the all around candidate to win the award.
But of course, it isn’t set in stone, as we will have to see how the final 3 games of the NFL season end up, but Mahomes has built an extremely strong case.