I must admit, I always hesitate to talk about an MVP award with 25% of the season left. In fact, I always bristled when other teams' fans would do so. However, I think it's safe to say that Tom Brady is the #1 candidate for the NFL's Most Valuable Player award for 2010.
After the jump for my reasons.
Statistics - By any stat or stats site that matters, Brady is ahead and not by just a comfortable margin; he's ahead by a country mile, maybe by the distance our NZ friends are from Gillette Stadium. Football Outsiders' QB DYAR has him just shy of 20% ahead of #2, Aaron Rodgers and 33.2% in front of his usual nemesis, Peyton Manning. Do you like QB rating better? How about 109.5 from ESPN NFL with Michael Vick at second with 105.7?
Receiving Corps - Brady is throwing to one receiver from last year. ONE. The little engine that can, Wes Welker, is the only constant in Brady's new group of pass catchers. His usual targets this year are WR Wes Welker (recovering from an ACL/MCL tear), Brandon Tate (spent most of 2009 on the reserve list or IR), FA TE Alge Crumpler, rookie TE Aaron Hernandez, rookie TE Rob Gronkowski, and WR Deion Branch. It could be argued that Branch was a long time target in the past and the chemistry was easier to ignite. The point is that Brady has had to develop chemistry and consistency with a very new cast of characters this year. That's far more difficult than going year to year with the same group. Did I mention 4 targets have 4 or more TD's with Wes leading the pack with 7? That means he's spreading the ball around, a recipe for success.
Winning at the right time - In games that mattered, Brady led his offense to big wins. Conference games with perennial "high end teams" (Ravens, Steelers, Colts) were important conference wins as well as being statement games. A trap game loss to the Browns and Week 2 loss to division rival Jets were stamped out by the above wins plus a 45-3 demolition of the NYJ. As of December 12th, New England is one win from a guaranteed playoff berth.
10-2 - Even with a statistically poor defense (that strangely seems to come up with big plays), Brady's been able to lead his offense to heights that some say are rivaled only by their 2007 performance. Despite the loss of superman Kevin Faulk for the season and Fred Taylor for half the season, he's been able to muster a respectable running game with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and NYJ reject, Danny Woodhead. Sure, there's more factors than just Tommee, but isn't it safe to say he has a lot to do with it?
MVP may not be a lock, wouldn't Brady be on a very, very short list? Wouldn't he be the guy you'd build a team around? I know I would.