The race for the NFL Most Valuable Player Award is a tight one.
As one would expect, several quarterbacks are in the lead. It’s basically a quarterback award.
Russell Wilson: The Seattle Seahawks quarterback has led his team a surprising 5-1 start and has yet to throw an interception. He is tied for second in the league with 14 passing touchdowns and boasts a 124.7 passer rating; that leads all quarterbacks. At 5-1, Seattle has won every game by one possession except for their September 29th victory in Arizona. This tells you that the Seahawks are a flawed team that should not be in this position, yet they are because of Wilson’s heroics.
Patrick Mahomes: As the reigning MVP who put up 5,000 passing yards and 50 touchdowns last year, the second-year starter set the bar astronomically high. Over the first four games of the season, he looked to be on pace to have equal or better statistics this season. Unfortunately, the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense is a mess. They have lost their last two games to the Colts and Texans, both of whom dominated time of possession and played the best defense possible for Patrick Mahomes. They kept him off the field. The Chiefs cannot be a threat unless Mahomes is able to lead their offense to 30 points every game. And now he will probably be sidelined for at least three weeks after dislocating his knee cap.
Deshaun Watson: The year started off with both a bang and a disappointment. That kind of sums up the Texans franchise in a nutshell, right? Watson put up an incredible performance in New Orleans on Monday Night Football and outplayed Drew Brees. He followed that up two weeks later with a thrilling comeback victory in Los Angeles against the Chargers. Since then, he has been nothing short of spectacular. His cleats from the Week 5 performance against the Falcons were sent to Canton and his road victory in Patrick Mahomes’ house was brilliant despite four dropped touchdown passes.
Right now, the vote should go to Deshaun Watson. There are three reasons why he deserves the nod over Wilson and Mahomes.
- Watson has been asked to overcome a horrendous offensive line prior to the last two weeks. His adversity levels and the beating he has taken in the pocket trumps that of both Wilson and Mahomes. He has been asked to run for his life while making spectacular plays to ignite the Texans. Patrick Mahomes had the best offensive of this bunch the first three weeks of the season. Wilson has benefited from a rushing attack that is coming off a league leading season in 2018.
- The “Wow!” factor has been more present in Watson’s game this year than any other quarterback. That matters, right? Part of sports is being able to tell exciting stories. The 2019 NFL season does not exist without some of Watson’s amazing plays. In Week 1, we saw his two-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to take the lead with 37 seconds left. In Week 3, we saw his off-balance, cross-body pass to Jordan Akins that led to a touchdown. In Week 5, everything he did to the Atlanta defense was phenomenal. Last week, his rushing touchdowns, especially the last one, were intricate in beating the Chiefs at Arrowhead. The “Wow!” factor has to matter when it comes to these awards. They are part of the storytelling and the history.
- Watson’s team might be the best of the three. Let us start with the Chiefs. First of all, Watson’s Texans have the tiebreaker over the Chiefs if they were to finish with the same record. Having a first-round bye in the NFL Playoffs has been crucial to making a Super Bowl run; no team since the 2012 Baltimore Ravens has made a Super Bowl without a first-round bye. No MVP since Adrian Peterson of that same year has won the award without his team earning a bye. The deciding factor may be that both the Texans and the Chiefs have to square off against the New England Patriots. The difference is that Watson gets to host the Patriots on Sunday Night Football while Mahomes must travel to New England, a place that has been hell for opposing quarterbacks since the turn of the century. As for Russell Wilson, his team may not even be the best in their own division. His team is also a few lucky breaks away from 3-3. The San Francisco 49ers look poised to win that division with their suffocating defense and gashing running game. If not for Greg Zuerlein’s missed field goal in Week 5, the Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams would be tied at 4-2 with the Seahawks sitting in third place in the NFL West.
Let’s not split hairs too much, though. The bottom line is that Watson’s team is in position to have a better record and/or seed than the Chiefs. The Seahawks right now are a Wild Card team winning by the skin of their teeth. Wild Card teams usually do not have MVP winners on their squads. If we go by precedent alone, Watson has the advantage.
Watson is on pace for 32 passing touchdowns (it would be 42 if his receivers did not have four drops in Kansas City). He is on pace for 13 rushing touchdowns. The last quarterback to boast a similar stat line was Cam Newton in 2015, when he threw for 35 touchdowns and ran for another 10. Guess who won MVP that season?
Look, I am not here to be a biased NFL fan with tunnel vision on topics like this. I am here to make credible arguments and defend my positions. Outside of Mahomes being the national media darling and Wilson being the likable veteran who finally deserves the honor, I have not seen an argument that feasibly puts either above Watson despite both being great.
If the NFL season ended right now, Watson should be the 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player.