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Could a Patriots player other than QB Tom Brady win MVP?

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Or is the Patriots quarterback the team’s only hope at winning the award?

NFL.com analyst Elliot Harrison looked at each team’s favorite to win MVP in 2017 and New England Patriots QB Tom Brady ranks first, ahead of Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and Raiders QB Derek Carr.

“For all the respect tossed Brady's direction, it's hard to believe he's only won two MVPs,” Harrison writes. “Though that's still impressive, Peyton Manning's five MVPs appear to have re-jiggered our expectations. Despite winning Super Bowl LI and the game's MVP award for a fourth time, Brady's 2016 campaign somehow seemingly flew under the radar, though it probably only falls behind 2010 and 2007 as his best to date.”

Brady is certainly the favorite to win MVP based on how he played in 2016- and Las Vegas oddsmakers certainly agree- and how the Patriots found a way to improve the offense by returning talent from injury (Rob Gronkowski), acquiring it via trade (Brandin Cooks, Dwayne Allen), using restricted free agency (Mike Gillislee), or standard free agency (Rex Burkhead). Add in all of the youth that should improve simply due to experience (Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Malcolm Mitchell) and you have an offense that’s juiced up and ready to break records.

I have to feel a little bad for the teams that Harrison struggled to find a player for representation. He chose rookie EDGE Myles Garrett for the Browns (“Who to go with here?” and DL Leonard Williams for the Jets (“Work with me. Please?”).

I wonder what Patriots players would have to produce in order to win MVP over Brady because it’s easy to attribute the success to the face of the franchise. I’ll only look at offensive players because defenders never win MVP.

On offense, I would think that TE Rob Gronkowski is the only player with a real shot simply because his talent is undeniable. WR Julian Edelman and WR Brandin Cooks would be my other options and I wouldn’t waste a penny betting on them.

Harrison pegs Steelers WR Antonio Brown, Falcons WR Julio Jones, and Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott as the non-quarterbacks with the best chances to win MVP and that’s hard to argue against. They all belong in stat-friendly offenses and non-quarterbacks need to set records to win MVP. If any of them crack 2,000 yards from scrimmage or 20 touchdowns, they should certainly be in the running.

I think that Gronkowski could be considered if he: 1) Gains 1,600 yards from scrimmage; 2) scores 20+ touchdowns; 3) accounts for the equivalent of over 1/3 of the Patriots passing production; and 4) continues to block at a high level.

Edelman and Cooks would likely have to record more receiving yards to turn heads because they won’t get the same added value from blocking, although they might be allowed to produce fewer touchdowns. An alternative route for Gronkowski, Edelman, and Cooks would be to produce in the wake of an injury at quarterback, but I don’t even want to entertain that thought.

Honestly, while some other teams could have multiple MVP candidates (Raiders have Carr and EDGE Khalil Mack; Falcons have Jones and QB Matt Ryan), Brady is the only viable MVP on the Patriots roster simply due to the wealth of talent across all the other positions- and that fact probably eliminates Brady from contention for MVP, unless he breaks all of Peyton Manning’s records from 2013.