The MVP finalists have emerged, and they are not in the order we originally thought. With only a few games left to decide who the most valuable player in football is, guys need to take advantage of the big stage in primetime games. Last week, with the Eagles taking on the Seahawks Sunday night, one guy stepped forward, and the other stepped back.
10 Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Previous rank: N/A
Another week and another Vikings' win. This week the Vikings' representative on the MVP list is Adam Thielen, whose production this season is as surprising as his team's record. Thielen was a good player, but no one saw 1,056 receiving yards coming - fourth in the NFL - especially with Case Keenum trowing him the ball.
His one downside is that he hasn't been much of a red zone threat, with only three touchdowns this season. But we aren't trying to rain on his parade, it's been a great year for Thielen and the Vikings.
9 Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
Previous rank: N/A
There's a reason the Saints are winning again, and although Drew Brees is the guy we're pushing for MVP on this team, Alvin Kamara may be the guy that really deserves it. Despite sharing the backfield with Mark Ingram (who's also having a great season), he leads running backs in receiving yards per game with 51.2. Kamara has a nose for the end zone, scoring 11 touchdowns this season (tied with Todd Gurley for most among running backs), seven on the ground and four in the air.
The production from the running back position in New Orleans with Ingram and Karama is crazy. It does make you wonder why they ever made the deal for Adrian Peterson, but Karama has been so good we almost forgot about that. Almost.
8 Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Previous rank: 9
At one point, Antonio Brown was not expected to play in Monday night's game against the Bengals. But he grit his teeth through a nagging injury, and came up with eight receptions for 101 yards and a game-tying touchdown late in the game. Antonio Brown hauled in his score despite taking a huge shot in the head, and it was a relief to see him come away uninjured in a game that saw a lot of big hits and hurt players.
Brown leads the league in receptions, receiving yardage and receiving touchdowns this season with 88 catches for 1,296 yards and nine scores. But despite a monopoly in the wide receiver category, Brown would need record-breaking stats to win the MVP as a receiver.
7 Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams
Previous rank: 8
Jared Goff and Carson Wentz have both been remarkable in the second year. But while most people saw Wentz's potential a year ago, Goff was all but written off. That's what makes his year so special, and why it's so surprising to have him as a member of this list.
Jared Goff is top ten in yards, touchdowns, and passer rating this year. More importantly, he has the Rams at 9-3, still edging out the surging Seahawks for first in the NFC West. It's going to be tough to stay ahead of the Seahawks the way Russell Wilson is playing, but I'm rooting for Goff. He deserves it after all the criticism he got a year ago.
6 Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Previous rank: 5
Bell turned in another terrific performance Monday night against a physical Bengals defense, rushing for 76 yards on 18 carries and catching five balls for 106 yards and a score. Bell led his team in rushing and receiving yards, and topped 100 yards through the air for the second time this season.
Bell has seems to have found his rhythm on offense, with back-to-back games of over 180 all-purpose yards. His play is raising the Steelers to another level, and solidifying him as the best dual-threat in the game, above newcomers like Kamara, Todd Gurley, and Christian McCaffrey.
5 Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers
Previous rank: 6
The Chargers win again, making it six victories in their last eight games. Although the Chargers didn't blow the roof off the joint last week against the Browns in a 19-10 win, Rivers lit it up with 344 passing yards. In his last two games, Philip Rivers has thrown for 778 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. He is the hottest quarterback in football, including the guys at the top of the list.
But Rivers has more to worry about than his MVP ranking; there are currently three teams in the AFC West at 6-6 (Raiders, Chargers, and Chiefs). Although I don't think the Chargers are best of these teams, they are playing the best football right now, and might be able to ride Philip's hot hand into the playoffs.
4 Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
Previous rank: 4
It's time to admit it, this is a three-man race for MVP right now, and Drew Brees is on the outside looking in. It's rare to see a Saints team play this well offensively and not see Drew Brees at the top of quarterback stat lists, but Brees has taken a back seat thus in the offense to the two-headed monster of Kamara and Ingram.
Brees is still third in passing yards (3298) and passer rating (104.2), and I am not the guy to countout a big finish to his season. But it looks like the Saints are going to stick to their new script and keep handing the ball off, hindering any chance of Brees catching the guys in front of him.
3 Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Previous rank: 1
In the first big shakeup of the list, Carson Wentz falls from his top spot down to third. In a primetime showdown against the Seahawks, Wentz and the Eagles came up short. He didn't play horribly, throwing for 348 yards with a touchdown and a pick, but it wasn't the MVP-sealing performance he needed on that stage.
Instead, the quarterback on the other side of the ball took center stage, getting both the win and the nod on this list. It's far from over, and Wentz still has a real shot to win, but he has to get it together quick with another tough game against the Rams coming up.
2 Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
Previous rank: 3
Russell Wilson finally has some real momentum in this race after a big win over the Eagles Sunday night. Wilson threw for three touchdowns and 227 yards in the win, and jumped his opponent Carson Wentz in the MVP running. Wilson actually got a little help from the run game Sunday, with Mike Davis carrying the ball 16 times for 64 in the contest. It's the first time since Week 2 that a Seahawks running back has rushed for over 60 yards while Wilson has topped that twice.
Wilson would be my pick for MVP if the season ended today, but it's not up to me. No one has done more with less and rallied through injuries on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Seattle continues their tough stretch of football Sunday with a matchup against the Jaguars.
1 Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
Previous rank: 2
Tom Brady looked surprisingly human in the Patriots 23-3 victory over the Bills Sunday. Brady did not throw a touchdown, tossing 258 yards and a pick in the win. But even with his worst game of the year, he claims the lead due to Wentz's loss against the Seahawks. That's something New England hasn't done lately - lose. The Pats have rattled off eight straight after a 2-2 start, and in typical Patriot fashion, Tom seemed unphased despite his poor performance.
Brady leads the NFL in yards (3,632) and passer rating (109.7) and is three touchdowns behind Wentz with 26. We'll see how Brady performs Monday night against the Dolphins without Gronk, who was suspended for his actions last Sunday. But to be honest, it never seems to matter who Tom is throwing to, he'll light it up regardless.
Who do you think is leading the MVP race at this point in the season? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
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