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The Value of Things: Handicapping the MVP Race for Texans QB C.J. Stroud

Did Week 12 change the pecking order?

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Admittedly, this is not something we have done in the past. Joe does a great job with the power rankings for the team and that is something we have always been interested in, but you would have to go back to the JJ Watt DPOTY days to find a time when a Houston Texans figured prominently in the MVP conversation. As we saw last week, Stroud at least belongs in the top ten.

Obviously, getting into the top five will be a tall order for him. For one, the Texans are on the cusp of playoff contention and that award is usually given to the best players on the best teams. Secondly, he’s a rookie. He will have to bide his time. However, since the MVP is a conversation around here again, it is time to make this a regular feature. What would an MVP power ranking list look like?

The Favorite: Jalen Hurts

I hate to use phrases like “it is his award to lose” six weeks before the end of the season. A large part of this is his 10-1 record. If they Eagles suddenly finished say 3-3 then you could imagine other guys getting into this conversation. I can’t see that happen. So, let’s say they are 15-2 or 14-3. Is anyone else really in the conversation at this point?

The key stat for me is the 12 touchdowns on the season. Forget that he is a quarterback for a second. He will likely surpass 40 rushing touchdowns in less than four seasons as a starter. That’s a Hall of Fame pace and those are only his rushing stats. He is not the best pure running quarterback in football. That is probably Lamar Jackson or Justin Fields. He isn’t the best passing quarterback in football. That is Patrick Mahomes. Still, there isn’t anyone better at the combination than he is.

Nipping at his Heels: Lamar Jackson

Jackson is the best running quarterback in the NFL. He may be the best running quarterback in history. He has two 1000 yard rushing seasons as a quarterback. That is completely unbelievable and he could conceivably get there this season. The team record is not as good as the Eagles and his numbers are not as good as Hurts, but he doesn’t have the wealth of talent around him. Odell Beckham and Zay Flowers certainly aren’t chopped liver, but they don’t compare with what the Eagles can throw at people.

The key stat for him will be touchdowns. He needs to go on a rampage to get back to the top of the list. That is what separates Hurts from the field. The counting numbers don’t look all that impressive, but he gets in the end zone through the air and on the ground. Jackson can do the same and if he picks it up in the last six weeks he could get back into the conversation.

On the Podium: Dak Prescott

The Cowboys are currently playing their best football they have in quite some time. They are arguably the third best team in the NFC, but they have the misfortune of playing in the same division as the Eagles. Prescott has been criticized in the past for throwing too many picks. He has only six this season. He runs just enough to be dangerous, but he has been more consistent through the air this season and that has been the biggest difference in his play and the play of the team.

He likely doesn’t win the award unless they can overtake the Eagles. They must beat them in their last matchup and get the Eagles to lose one other divisional game. If the Cowboys somehow run the table than Dak could be a little more than just a dark horse candidate. You could say he would deserve it. After all, it is a regular season award.

Where is C.J. Stroud?

Honestly, he is eighth among quarterbacks and probably behind Tyreek Hill and Myles Garrett. Yet, Garrett complained of an injury and if he misses time then he could be out of the conversation. At this point, Stroud’s chances rely on one thing: winning. If they can go on a run in the last six games and make the playoffs then he has a case. If they go 3-3 and miss the playoffs or worse then he doesn’t have a case.

It’s a shame though. He arguably played his best football game of the season all things considered. He used his legs to escape the rush and created some by moving around the pocket. He really hasn’t had to do that often so far this season. He is checking a lot of boxes, but those boxes don’t matter if your team doesn’t win.