The New England Patriots are heading into tonight’s prime time contest against the New York Giants with a perfect 5-0 record and as one of only two teams in the NFL — the other being the 4-0 San Francisco 49ers — that has not yet lost a game this season. While the defense’s outstanding performance is a big reason for the team’s success this early in the season, the role of quarterback Tom Brady cannot be underestimated either.
Despite being 42 years old and playing behind an offensive line that is fielding new starters at left tackle and center, Brady has played some very good football this season. Yes, not all has been perfect — just think back to his red zone interceptions against the Buffalo Bills in Week 4 and against the Washington Redskins in Week 5 — but the future Hall of Famers is still among the best and most effective passers in the entire league.
So far this season, Brady has completed 118 of his 187 pass attempts for 1,409 yards with 10 touchdowns and only the two interceptions mentioned above. If you project those numbers over the 16-game regular season you get very solid statistics: Brady is currently on pace to throw for roughly 4,500 yards as well as 32 touchdowns and only six picks — numbers that are similar to the ones he posted in 2017, when he won his third of three MVP awards.
As opposed to two seasons ago, however, Brady is currently not seen as a front-runner for the trophy this year. In fact, three other players appear to be ahead of him at the moment — at least according to SB Nation’s latest FanPulse poll: just 8% of participants answered the question “Who is the leader in the NFL MVP race as of today?” with the Patriots’ quarterback, ranking him clearly behind the current three favorites.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey led the field with 37% of the votes, followed by two quarterbacks: the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson received a 24% share, just edging out Kansas City Chiefs passer and reigning regular season MVP Patrick Mahomes. If McCaffrey would indeed win the award, he would become the first running back since Adrian Peterson in 2012 to take it home — and just the 13th overall.
As for Brady, him being in fourth place may be disappointing for Patriots fans but they should not feel too bad about it: that he is currently not seen as an MVP front-runner is perfectly fine considering that New England is not just relying on him to be successful at the moment (as opposed to the Panthers, Seahawks and Chiefs who would be far from where they currently are based on how the rest of their team is playing).
Make no mistake, though, the Patriots would suffer a great deal if it had to replace him with backups Jarrett Stidham or Cody Kessler and immediately lose its status as Super Bowl favorites. However, the 2019 Patriots are not winning only because of Brady. They are also winning, as mentioned above, because of a defense that is the deepest in all of football and rightfully making plenty of headlines — in turn hurting the quarterback’s MVP chances.
As head coach Bill Belichick often mentions, football is a complementary team game — and Brady is the perfect quarterback for how this team is currently constructed with his rather risk-averse style and intelligence. While this may not lead to a fourth (regular season) MVP award for him, it sure can lead to a seventh Super Bowl ring. And in the end, that is all that matters.
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