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2017 MVP Watch: Tom Brady’s MVP rivals put up stinkers in week 14

How does Tom Brady stack up to the competition?

Week 14 was crazy for the MVP candidates as most put together terrible days and didn’t help their campaigns. New England Patriots QB Tom Brady plays Monday Night, so he’s hoping to rise above the rest with one of the only great performances of the week.

Entering the week, the oddsmaker Bovada provides odds for 11 players as possible 2017 NFL MVP candidates, with Brady tied for 3rd. Here’s how the others performed.

1. Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott (12/5)

Week 14: 10-7 loss at Giants on Sunday Night Football. Elliott rushed for 107 yards on 24 attempts, and caught zero of his two targets.

The case for: The Cowboys have the best record in the NFL at 11-2 and Elliott leads the NFL with 1,392 rushing yards, more than 200 yards ahead of the #2 ranked Titans RB DeMarco Murray (1,135 yards). Elliott has 322 additional receiving yards and ranks 2nd in yards from scrimmage. He’s the most productive player on the team with the best record.

The case against: A second member on the Cowboys offense is an MVP candidate, which is sure to split votes. Elliott might not receive as many votes if he ranks second in yards from scrimmage (and Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell is hot on his tail with 98 fewer yards in 3 fewer games). Some voters will inevitably snub Elliott because they believe the Cowboys offensive line deserves more credit.

2. Raiders QB Derek Carr (7/2)

Week 14: 21-13 loss at Chiefs on Thursday Night Football. Carr completed 17 of 41 (41.5%) for 117 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions for a rating of 49.1.

The case for: Carr had a viable argument for being the top quarterback on the team with the best record in the AFC that had played the entire season. That argument is still on the table if Oakland rebounds.

The case against: Now the Raiders are the 5th seed in the AFC after a prime time loss to the Chiefs. Carr ranks 7th in passing yards, 8th in touchdowns, and 11th in passer rating, which is far too pedestrian for a quarterback not overcoming serious offensive injuries (see: 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton).

t-3. Patriots QB Tom Brady (15/2)

Week 14: To be determined vs Ravens on Monday Night Football.

The case for: Brady has a sterling 19:1 touchdown to interception ratio. His 8.2 yards per attempt ranks 2nd in the NFL. His passer rating of 113.1 also ranks 2nd in the NFL. His rate statistics stack up against the best in the league. If the Patriots beat the Ravens, New England will be tied with Dallas for the best record in the NFL and Brady will not suffer a vote split. Brady will also get bonus points for overcoming the loss of TE Rob Gronkowski.

The case against: Brady was suspended for the first four games of the season so his volume statistics are lacking. Even if Brady has his average 300 yard game against the Ravens, he’ll rank 24th in passing yards. If he throws an above average 3 touchdowns, he’ll be tied for 12th in touchdown passes. If there is any toss-up in the MVP voting, the tiebreaker should deservedly go to the player that played more. Some will also make the ridiculous argument that the Patriots went 3-1 without Brady.

t-3. Lions QB Matthew Stafford (15/2)

Week 14: 20-17 win vs Bears. Stafford completed 21 of 35 (60.0%) for 223 yards, 1 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions for a rating of 64.3. Stafford threw a pick-6 to former Patriots CB Cre’Von LeBlanc in the fourth quarter with 7:14 left in the game, giving the Bears a 17-13 lead. Stafford then led an NFL-record 8th fourth quarter comeback to win the game.

The case for: Eight of the Lions nine wins have required a 4th quarter comeback from Stafford. Detroit is currently the #2 seed in a tough NFC. Without Stafford, the Lions might not have any wins.

The case against: Clearly Stafford hasn’t played well enough over the first three quarters of the game if the Lions have trailed in the fourth quarter in almost every game this season. Like Carr, Stafford doesn’t excel in the statistics department, ranking 8th in passing yards, 10th in passer rating, and 12th in touchdowns. He also threw the pick six against the Bears that forced the Lions to make a comeback.

t-5. Falcons QB Matt Ryan (10/1)

Week 14: 42-14 win at Rams. Ryan completed 18 of 28 (64.3%) for 237 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions for a rating of 126.6. He did this without his top two receivers as both Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu didn’t play.

The case for: Ryan receives major credit for producing against the Rams without his top two receivers; if you make the head-to-head comparison with Brady’s performance against the Rams- 33 of 46 (71.7%) for 269 yards, 1 touchdown, 93.5 rating- it’s not hard to give Ryan the edge. Ryan has the Falcons in 1st in the NFC South and currently has the best passer rating in the NFL at 113.2, 0.1 ahead of Brady. Ryan ranks 1st in yards per attempt, 2nd in passing yards, and tied for 2nd in touchdowns. He’s dragging a Falcons defense that ranks in the bottom 5 in the NFL by DVOA.

The case against: Fair or not, the Falcons 8-5 record isn’t strong enough to turn heads. Atlanta has lost three games by 3 or fewer points, including one against the Chiefs where Ryan threw a game-deciding pick-2 on a two-point conversion attempt. The Falcons are tied with the Buccaneers atop the NFC South.

t-5. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (10/1)

Week 14: 38-10 loss at Packers. Wilson completed 22 of 39 (56.4%) for 240 yards, 1 touchdown, and 5 interceptions, with a passer rating of 43.7.

The case for: Wilson has had to overcome the worst offensive line in the NFL to lead the Seahawks towards the top of the NFC.

The case against: Wilson’s numbers are terrible. He ranks 9th in passing yards, but 24th in touchdowns and 21st in passer rating. Wilson just threw 5 interceptions against the Packers. It’s probably too late for Wilson to make up ground against the competition at this point.

7. Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (12/1)

Week 14: 10-7 loss at Giants on Sunday Night Football. Prescott completed 17 of 37 (45.9%) for 165 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions, with a passer rating of 45.4.

The case for: Prescott is the quarterback in the team with the best record, while also ranking 3rd in the NFL in passer rating and 4th in yards per attempt. He led the Cowboys on an 11-game winning streak with 4 game-winning drives. The Cowboys defense ranks in the bottom 10 by DVOA.

The case against: Prescott has another MVP candidate on the list, which will hurt his vote, and he just put up a stinker in prime time. He’s also surrounded by the best offensive line and has a top receiver in Dez Bryant. He has failed to exceed 200 passing yards in three straight weeks.

t-8. Saints QB Drew Brees (33/1)

Week 14: 16-11 loss at Buccaneers. Brees completed 25 of 41 (61.0%) for 257 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions, with a passer rating of 48.5.

The case for: Brees is 1st in the NFL with 4,170 passing yards, tied for 2nd in touchdowns, and 5th in paser rating. Without Brees, the Saints might not have a win.

The case against: Brees is tied for 3rd in the NFL with 14 interceptions, including 6 interceptions against 0 touchdowns over the past two games. The 5-8 Saints have lost four of their past five in crunch time. Brees, like Wilson, should be out of the running.

t-8. Washington QB Kirk Cousins (33/1)

Week 14: 27-22 win at Eagles. Cousins completed 14 of 21 (66.7%) for 234 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception, with a passer rating of 116.0.

The case for: Cousins ranks 3rd in passing yards with 4,045 and he is tied with Tom Brady for 2nd place in yards per attempt with 8.2. He ranks 6th in passer rating.

The case against: Washington is currently not in the NFC playoffs. It’s hard to imagine he’d be on many ballots because he’s effectively a lesser option than both Carr and Stafford. This trio doesn’t have elite statistical production, but at least Carr and Stafford are in the playoffs.

t-8. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (33/1)

Week 14: 38-10 win vs Seahawks. Rodgers completed 18 of 23 (78.3%) for 246 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions, with a passer rating of 150.8.

The case for: Rodgers leads the NFL with 32 touchdowns. He ranks 4th in passer rating and 6th in passing yards. His performance against the Seahawks defense was far better than Brady’s 0 touchdown, 1 interception day in week 10.

The case against: The Packers rank 9th in the NFC and are just half a game above .500. The arguments against Brees are in play against Rodgers, whose Packers lost four straight to borderline playoff teams from week 8 to week 11.

11. Falcons WR Julio Jones (50/1)

Week 14: Julio Jones did not play.

The case for: Julio leads the league with 1,253 receiving yards.

The case against: He didn’t play this past week. He’s not going to win.

It would appear that only Ryan and Rodgers helped their chances in week 14, with Brady still to be determined. Elliott might have stayed the course, but he needs to be exceptional to win.

There are clear groupings of MVP candidates. There are quarterbacks with great production on playoff teams (Brady, Ryan). There are quarterbacks with slightly above average production on playoff teams (Carr, Stafford, Prescott). There are quarterbacks with great production on teams not currently in the playoffs (Brees, Rodgers, Cousins all with 33/1 odds). There are the skill players that lead the league in yards (Elliott, Jones). And then there’s the quarterback receiving credit for dragging his team to the playoffs, even though his defense is doing all the work (Wilson).

Who has your vote?