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NFL: 3 dark horses for MVP

Matt Ryan deserved MVP honors after his great season a year ago, but he was certainly not a favorite for the award to start the year. So who’s this year’s Matt Ryan?

2016 was the second straight year where a QB came from out of the dark and into the spotlight to win MVP. Of course, everyone knows Cam Newton and Matt Ryan are talented, but no one was picking them to take home most valuable player, especially Ryan was even coming off arguably the worst season of his career this time last year. So what other quarterbacks have the talent to string together an MVP-type season in 2017?

  1. 1 Eli Manning, New York Giants

    Eli Manning has two Super Bowl rings, two Super Bowl MVP’s, four Pro Bowls, and has started every game under center for the Giants since 2005. Yet the only passing category he’s ever led the league in is interceptions, and he’s done it three times. But no one will deny Manning’s greatness; the youngest Manning’s career has landed him top-10 all-time in passing TD’s, passing yards, completions, and game-winning drives. and if there was a season for him to put it all together, this is it.

    the 36-year-old’s best three seasons have been his last three under Ben McAdoo’s system. He has improved his completion percentage (63%) and quarterback rating (90.5) and has thrown 91 TD’s in that time (Top-5 in NFL).  

    This also may be the best set weapons the Giants have ever place had around Manning. The team signed Brandon Marshall this offseason and took TE Evan Engram from Ole Miss with their 1st round pick in the Draft. They will go alongside Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard, giving Eli plenty of targets down the field. The defense is also looking elite, last year finishing 2nd in points allowed per game (17.8), and should hopefully give Eli plenty of opportunities to put points on the board.

  2. 2 Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers

    Philip Rivers and the Chargers have had some awful luck the last few years. It starts with his top receiver, Keenan Allen, suffering consecutive season-ending injuries. In 2016, Rivers saw many of his potential targets fall to season-ending injuries (Branden Oliver, Danny Woodhead, Steve Johnson, Dexter McCluster).

    The good news for Philip Rivers is that now the Chargers are set for a huge comeback season. They were much better than their 5-11 record last year. Of their 11 losses, six were by less than a touchdown. The Chargers were especially bad in the 4th quarter, four times blowing the lead in the final quarter.

    Rivers has looked like an MVP candidate in spurts the last couple seasons when he has all his targets around him, particularly Keenan Allen. If Allen can stay healthy and TE Hunter Henry can continue his production from his rookie season, Rivers can put up some monster numbers. Then it's up to the defense to get more consistent in closing out games, Rivers may be able to ride a resurgent season all the way into the MVP race.

  3. 3 Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

    It's hard to believe Drew Brees doesn’t have an MVP in his career. A sure-fire Hall of Famer and a Super Bowl MVP, Brees could go down as the best quarterback in history to never win an MVP, and I guess he has a couple guys named Tom Brady and Peyton Manning to thank for that.

    By the end of his career, Brees could very possibly be the all-time leader in passing yards, passing TDs, attempts, and completions. He already has the best completion percentage in history (66.6%, QB’s must have 1,500 career pass attempts), and has thrown for more 5,000-yard seasons (5) than any other QB.

    In 2016, at age 37, Brees had another phenomenal year. He finished top-5 in every QB statistic (yards, TDs, quarterback rating, QBR, completion %), but unfortunately for him, MVP candidates are tied to the fate of their team, and much like Rivers, the D has let Brees down. The Saints 7-9 record last season can almost exclusively be blamed on the defensive side of the ball, finishing 31st in total defense. The Saints addressed their defense in the draft, selecting four defensive players in the first three rounds, including the 10th overall pick on CB Marshon Lattimore.

    Drew Brees definitely has enough in the tank for an MVP run, and the additions of Adrian Peterson and Ted Ginn Jr. will only bolster an offense that finished 2nd in the NFL last year. If the Saints defense can even be a speed bump to opposing teams, Drew Brees may have a real shot at the MVP.

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Dave Drain

I’m passionate about Football, Basketball, Baseball, and Golf. College or the Pro’s? It doesn’t matter. In addition to writing about sports, I also coach year-round in my community, teaching middle-school boys the fundamentals of the sports I love, as well as helping them grow-up into outstanding young men. Don’t get me started talking stats, and I’m always up for a debate on the greats of the game!

NFL: 3 dark horses for MVP

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