Who should be the NFL MVP this season?
The Atlanta Falcons have an unquestioned NFL MVP candidate in Matt Ryan. Ryan is having the best season of his career and looks to have his team positioned to enjoy a first round bye headed into the playoffs. Despite losing five games this season Matt Ryan not only deserves to win the MVP but is the clear choice in what has been a very intriguing MVP race.
While plenty of names have been thrown around throughout the long NFL season it seems to be coming down to six names Matt Ryan, Derek Carr, Dak Prescott, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Ezekiel Elliot. While there is no questioning that the Cowboys are America’s team and have two of the most popular rookies in recent memory, in theory this shouldn’t influence MVP voters.
Voting for the Most Valuable Player is all about stats the player whose team would be lost without them. Not who has the best story line of the season or who has lived up most to expectations. If that was the criteria hands down it would come down between the two Cowboy’s young rookie sensations who have taken over prime-time football and daily sports talk shows.
What gets lost in all the hype is what matters most and that is the stats. One of the most interesting stats this season has been QBR, when adjusted to the degree of difficulty here are the quarterbacks and their respective ratings in order.
- Matt Ryan- 115.1
- Tom Brady- 110.7
- Dak Prescott- 105.6
- Aaron Rodgers- 102.6
- Derek Carr- 96.7
Matt Ryan is leading all quarterbacks by 5 points or more with only Tom Brady coming close. It is fair to point out as well that Brady did miss four games this season and has not maintained a high QBR for as long as Ryan has, who has not missed a game this season. Dak Prescott’s QBR rating is impressive and shows how good of a season he is having regardless, Ryan and Brady rank above Prescott and have the clear edge in almost every other category.
To put Matt Ryan’s numbers in perspective his current QBR is exactly the same as Peyton Manning’s in 2013, Manning’s career year in Denver and the year he went on to win the MVP. It is currently 3 points higher than Aaron Rodger’s MVP year as well and nearly 16 full points higher than last years MVP (Cam Newton).
Another major step forward that Matt Ryan has taken this season is his completion percentage. He has improved both his completion percentage and his ability to throw the ball down the field. He has completed 69.5 percent of his passes and leads MVP candidates in completion percentage, though not by much as all five quarterbacks are completing well over 60 percent of their passes.
Where the field begins to separate itself a bit is in passing yardage and in explosive plays. Matt Ryan is the only MVP candidate to average more than 300 yards per game this season. Tom Brady falls just short of 300 at 298 the next closest to averaging 300 yards a game is Aaron Rodgers at 275. Despite Tom Brady’s level of play he did miss four games and does not have the stats that other MVP candidates do.
Matt Ryan ranks first among quarterback MVP candidates as well in yardage and explosive plays. Ryan currently sits 3rd in the league in yardage with Rodgers 4th, Carr 11th, Prescott 16th, and Brady 21st. Ryan is piling up the most yardage while still maintaining the best completion percentage and leading in plays over 20 yards.
Plays over 20 yards:
- Ryan- 66
- Prescott- 38
Because of all these 20+ yard plays Matt Ryan is averaging over 9 yards per throw, that is over a yard more than any other candidate and if he can maintain it through week 17 he would be averaging a full yard more than Peyton Manning in his latest MVP winning season as a Bronco in 2013.
Matt Ryan is the clear choice among quarterbacks when you set aside the bias that most fans have for Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, or rookie sensation Dak Prescott. While there is no denying their level of talent the stats do not lie and all of them are being outplayed by Atlanta’s quarterback.
Ryan’s only competition should be Ezekiel Elliot. Elliot is the most valuable player on the Cowboys team right now. If they were to lose Dak Prescott tomorrow they would still have the league’s best running back and a Pro-bowl quarterback in Tony Romo. Prescott cannot be the league MVP when he is not the most valuable player on his own team.
The rest of the field is thinned when you looked at their full seasons Brady had his season shortened by four games, Carr’s season ended on a gruesome leg injury, and Aaron Rodgers has only recently started to play well after a very slow start to the season. Matt Ryan has outplayed every other quarterback in the league over the course of the full season.
Ezekiel Elliot could easily be the league’s MVP when you consider his team’s success and how much he is responsible for it. Zeke has piled up nearly 2,000 yards with 1,631 rushing yards and over 300 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. He has touched the ball 354 times this season and along with Dak has made the Cowboys America’s team yet again. The MVP race is coming down to the wire with week 17 almost here, there are two clear choices for MVP Matt Ryan or Ezekiel Elliot.