Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Derek Carr —> 2321 yards, 17 TD, 3 Int , 290 yards per game, 66.3 % (6-2)
Tom Brady —> 1319 yards, 12 TD, 0 INT, 330 yards per game, 73.1 % (3-0)
Matt Ryan —> 2636 Yards, 19 TD, 4 INT, 330 yards per game , 69.2 % (5-3)
Dak Prescott —> 1773 yards, 9 TD, 2 INT, 253 yards per game, 65.2% (6-1)
Oakland —> 31st yards allowed, 410 yards per game, 22nd points against, 25.4 pg
Atlanta —> 25th yards allowed, 379 yards per game, 29th points against, 28.9 pg
New England —> 14th yards allowed, 354 yards per game, 3rd points against, 16.5 pg
Dallas —> 11th yards allowed, 349 yards per game, 7th points against, 18.6 pg
The MVP race is becoming quite interesting. Matt Ryan is having a resurgent year, Tom Brady is using revenge to play the best football of his career, Dak Prescott has come out of nowhere to lead the cowboys to the best record in the NFC (for the moment), and Derek Carr has continued his upward trajectory and is having one of the best seasons so far. If it was based upon overall play, then Tom Brady would run away with league MVP, as he should. However, Brady missed the first four games of the year because of a suspension which could completely eliminate him in many voters’ minds. In addition, if the NFL media want to take the award literally, by taking the most valuable player, then I don’t believe they could vote for Brady. The reason why is because the Patriots were 3-1 without him (don’t forget that when Brady tore his ACL the patriots went 11-5). Also, Belichick is considered one of the greatest coaches of all time in any sport. To me, he is the most important person in the Patriots organization. The Patriots could not win without Belichick, but it is proven they can win without Brady. Even though Brady is the best player in the league, he is not the most valuable. His suspension will hurt him unless he can have a historical season (possibly by going undefeated), but we are talking about right now and not what could or could not happen in the future.
Another hot candidate is Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan. He is having an incredible season and is leading one of the hottest offenses in the NFL. They got off to a hot start winning four out of their first five games, but have since lost two of their last three. He also boasts probably the best stats in the league with his league leading 2,636 yards and 19 touchdowns to only 4 interceptions. Brady might have better stats, but he has only played in three games. Matt Ryan’s stat line screams MVP and has arguably the best stat line’s out of anyone, so with a solid record he will be tough to beat out and will be in good consideration if he keeps it up.
One player who should not be in consideration is Dak Prescott. The media has been high on him and has put him in a few MVP discussions, so I felt the need to address this. It is impressive what Prescott is doing. He is quarterbacking efficiently, not turning the football over and with the help of Ezekiel Elliot and that offensive line has the Cowboys with a 6-1 record. However, there are many things that leave him in the dust when compared to Carr, Ryan, and Brady. First and foremost, his stats are nowhere close to the others. He is averaging 40 yards less per game than Carr and almost 80 yards less per game than Brady and Ryan. He also has 10 TD’s less than Ryan and 8 less than Carr. In addition, he has the best offensive line in football, arguably the best running back and one of the best wide receivers (Dez Bryant). He has too much talent around him, not good enough stats, and just does not pass the eye test of elite talent. He is having a good year and should win rookie of the year, but having him in consideration for MVP is ludicrous.
Lastly, my favorite to win MVP right now, is Derek Carr. The first thing to look at with Derek Carr is his state line. He has 17 TD to only 3 interceptions, which is exceptional and is throwing close to 300 yards a game. Immediately, those numbers put him in the conversation with Brady and Ryan. The thing that separates Derek Carr in my mind, is that he should be considered the most “valuable” player. Like we mentioned above, if the Patriots did not have Brady, they would still be doing fine and probably be 6-2 right now, which is only one game worse than they are. However, if you take Derek Carr off the Raiders team I can’t see them winning very many games. The only game I think they win without Derek Carr is the Jacksonville game and maybe the Tennessee game. Every other win they have had relied on Derek Carr throwing for 300 yards and multiple touchdowns. He has already led three fourth quarter comebacks this year against New Orleans, Baltimore, and Tampa Bay. Realistically, this team would be 2-6 without Carr. The main reason why Carr is relied upon so heavily is the terrible Raiders defense. I do admit they have been getting better each game, but they still are a bad defense and got off to a historically terrible start to the season. Even with that start, the Raiders still managed to win football games and got off to a 4-1 start all thanks to the incredible play of Derek Carr. Carr also has a signature game with his win over Tampa Bay when he threw for 513 yards and 4 touchdowns in a dramatic overtime and comeback win. The one negative that could be used against Carr was his game against the Chiefs. It was an absolutely terrible game and they got blown out, but I believe that him having a terrible defense and his many 4th quarter comebacks should overcome that one poor game.
Derek Carr should marginally beat out Matt Ryan for MVP because of those few reasons (if the vote was right now). The reasons being that I think Oakland’s defense has been worse than Atlanta’s so far, Carr has three 4th quarter comebacks compared to Ryan’s two and Ryan has the best WR in the game with Julio Jones. In addition, I think the Raiders would have the worst record out of all the teams if their starting QB got hurt (Patriots have shown to be good, Cowboys have Romo, and Atlanta has Julio and better running backs to help the backup QB). In the end, Derek Carr should be the MVP through the midway point of the season. However, it could easily change based upon how Brady or Matt Ryan plays and the tendency for Carr’s level of play to tail off in the 2nd half of the season.
Ryan is currently a student at the University of North Carolina. He grew up in the Bay Area and has had Raiders season tickets his entire life fostering his love for the NFL. He has founded his own sports website, thejrreport.com and works at the Sports Desk for the Daily Tar Heel. You can follow Ryan on twitter @rytime98 if you want to discuss anything sports.