Monday Morning Quarterback scribe Peter King shared his MVP ballot three quarters of the way through the season and the result is surprising.
“I think, after 12 weeks, my MVP ballot, one through five, would go this way,” King writes. “1. Ezekiel Elliott; 2, Derek Carr; 3, Russell Wilson; 4, Dak Prescott; 5, Matthew Stafford. Any ordering of the top four right now wouldn’t get much of an argument from me, even after Wilson got pillaged by the marauding Buccaneers. It's about a season, not a Sunday.”
Carr has been very good for a resurgent Raiders team, posting a 22:5 touchdown:interception ratio, along with a 7th rank 100.5 passer rating. Wilson has played with injuries and a horrible offensive line to lead the Seahawks atop the NFC West, although he has only generated 12 touchdowns this year. Stafford has led 7 4th quarter comebacks this season, but that’s because he hasn’t played well enough to hold a lead throughout the game.
King features two Cowboys in the top five. Elliott ranks 2nd in the NFL in yards from scrimmage (1,502) and Prescott ranks 4th in NFL passer rating (108.6). But King also mentions that three of the Cowboys offensive linemen are All Pro candidates, which begs the question: So, uh, Peter, where is Patriots QB Tom Brady? (and where is Falcons QB Matt Ryan, for that matter?)
If you want to argue that Brady’s star-studded offensive cast is a reason to remove him from the list, you can’t also put two players from the Cowboys on the list, while also mentioning the incredible talent on the offensive line.
If you want to say that Brady hasn’t had to rescue his team in come-from-behind efforts, you also can’t ignore that the Lions have trailed in the 4th quarter of every game this season; that should count against Stafford, not in favor. Also, Brady just put the entire offense on his back and bum knee against the Jets, winning yet another game where he passed 50+ attempts.
If you want to use the fact that Brady’s played 4 fewer games than the other candidates, then you also have to acknowledge that Brady’s done more in seven games (18 touchdowns, 1 interception) than Wilson, Prescott, and Stafford have done in 11 games (11 touchdowns, 1 rushing touchdown, 4 interceptions).
If you want to penalize Brady because back-up QB Jimmy Garoppolo and QB Jacoby Brissett went 3-1 during his suspension, then you also have to realize you’re penalizing Brady because his team actually values the back-up quarterback position and not his play on the field (and it should also include the discussion of how well Tony Romo could have led the Cowboys this season).
Brady ranks 1st in passer rating. He has the same number of touchdown passes as Prescott (18) and one fewer than Stafford (19). He’s the best player on the team in the AFC with the best record. There is no player stealing votes from within his own team.
If I had to construct a top 5, it would go: 1. Carr because he’s played well all season; 2. Brady; 3. Matt Ryan; 4. Cardinals RB David Johnson because he’s not getting any help from his offensive line or quarterback; 5. Elliott. This will undoubtedly change as the season continues down its final stretch, but the time for leaving Brady off the MVP ballot has long since passed.