The 2020 NFL season is as unpredictable as ever with the surest thing at this point in time being the favorite to win this year’s MVP award.
It would be hard to imagine the top four spots in this list changing too much as the season progresses; the order might fluctuate, like it does this week, but there are clear favorites in this race. Behind Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson are the usual signal-callers, but now, as we get deeper into the ever-changing schedule, other key players are making stronger cases or emerging as MVP candidates.
It would be tough for any to compete with what Wilson is doing on the field, but these nine other players have a possibility to beat out the favorite, who, after all, has yet to receive an MVP vote in his career.
Here are 10 players in the running for the league’s MVP award five weeks into the season:
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
Last week: No. 1
There aren’t many other ways to say Wilson should be the NFL’s MVP other than to say: Russell Wilson should be the NFL’s MVP. What the ninth-year quarterback is doing with the Seahawks is something we haven’t seen, really, ever, in terms of consistency and production. He’s cementing himself as one of the all-time great passers while leading Seattle to its first 5-0 start in franchise history.
Wilson is doing all of this with an offensive line offering little to no protection. Seattle has allowed the seventh-most sacks (15) and Wilson has been pressured on 27.6% of his dropbacks, the fifth-highest rate, forcing him to scramble out of the pocket 15 times through five games; it’s the third most of any team. The Seahawks’ defense isn’t much better. They have given up the most yards of any team (2,356), and yet, here’s Wilson, still finding ways to win every game while leading, or near the top of, the league in nearly every statistical category.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Last week: No. 4
As we’re more than a quarter of the way through the season, many things are taking shape league-wide and we’re beginning to better understand team identities, including what’s working and what’s not. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is certainly working.
The Packers are 4-0 for the first time since the 2015 season almost entirely due to Rodgers, who’s been working with a depleted roster. Green Bay leads the league in scoring, averaging 38 points per game, and Rodgers is among the most efficient passers on the field. The Packers, as a whole, are practically errorless and Rodgers has yet to throw an interception while accumulating 13 touchdowns. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
Last week: No. 2
The Kansas City Chiefs’ perfect record was sullied by the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, but even the very best quarterbacks (and teams) aren’t always perfect. While the loss exposed some errant play by Kansas City, quarterback Patrick Mahomes is still Patrick Mahomes.
Similar to Wilson, as long as Mahomes is under center, anything is possible; Kansas City just found out the hard way it has to do better to support its prized passer. Anytime Mahomes and the Chiefs are faced with an ounce of adversity, they bounce back with a vengeance. After a string of four losses in six games, Kansas City won 11 consecutive contests dating back to Nov. 18, 2019 before its most recent Week 5 defeat. It’s worth noting how the Chiefs respond, and I would reckon it will keep Mahomes high in this MVP race.
Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
Last week: No. 3
The reigning MVP has a chance to repeat as he leads the Baltimore Ravens to a 4-1 record, but he’s currently being upstaged by the defense. Lamar Jackson is still one of the most electrifying quarterbacks to watch, but the defense is currently stealing the show, allowing a league-low 15.2 points per game.
While Jackson may not immediately look like the passer we saw last season, he has the structure around him to return to the very height of his young career. Jackson has thrown for 949 total yards to rank 31st in the NFL. It’s not awe-inspiring numbers from a quarterback who can do anything, including going on 50-yard tares to the end zone. Jackson, himself, admitted things could be better. But even at this stage, he’s above the rest of the field.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Last week: No. 9
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has continually looked better as the Pittsburgh Steelers cruised to a 4-0 start. He looked even better when connecting with rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool in their 38-29 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Everything seems to be clicking a year after an elbow surgery that should have derailed the aging passer’s career. Instead, the Steelers are looking like they could return to Super Bowl glory if they continue playing this way.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans
Last week: No. 10
After weeks off following a COVID-19 outbreak within the Tennessee Titans organization, quarterback Ryan Tannehill and company took the field on Tuesday to resume play, and they didn’t miss a beat. After almost no authorized in-person practices, the team had a dominant 42-16 win over the Buffalo Bills.
If there were any lingering questions regarding Tannehill’s level of play after winning Comeback Player of the Year last season, he’s seemingly answered them with a 4-0 start and very efficient numbers. While I don’t think he’ll add an MVP trophy to his case this season, he certainly deserves to be in the conversation.
Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
Last week: No. 6
The New Orleans Saints have been without star wide receiver Michael Thomas for the better part of the season, but that hasn’t stopped them from going 4-1 and there’s another star to thank for that: running back Alvin Kamara. He has been the key part of New Orleans’ success, not just out of the backfield but in the passing game as well.
Kamara continues to lead the league in total yards of scrimmage (676), and his 395 receiving yards are among the league’s best. Kamara’s receiving total falls just outside of the top 10 and is well above the rest of the running backs with Carolina Panthers’ Mike Davis the next-best back at only 206 yards. The Saints have done extremely well utilizing Kamara’s skill set, and it shows in his number of targets (39), which are the third most league-wide.
Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns
Last week: N/A
Pass-rushers have appeared on this list, and if it were solely up to the majority, Aaron Donald would have already won the league’s MVP award. There’s another powerful pass-rusher who’s propelling a middling-to-bad team to early success. I’ve asked myself on multiple occasions: Are the Cleveland Browns good? The answer is defensive end Myles Garrett is.
No matter what side of the ball a player is one, when they have this big of an impact, especially on a team that’s been historically bad, they should be considered a very valuable player. Garrett is among the league leaders in sacks (six) and forced fumbles (three) and has six total turnovers caused by pressures, per Next Gen Stats.
Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
Last week: N/A
Here, Donald returns. This is a logical list, after all, and if Garrett is being highlighted for his contributions, the NFL’s leader in sacks (7.5) should be too. Donald’s on pace for an NFL-record 24 sacks. He continues to be a game-changer for the Rams and has consistently played that role late into his 20s. It’s a shame the NFL doesn’t honor defensive players for this award.
Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
Last week: No. 5
I haven’t given up yet, but quarterback Josh Allen’s recent outing left much to be desired if he wants to be in the MVP conversation. In the Bills’ first loss of the season, Allen had some of the lowest numbers of his career across the board. His detractors will say this is the Allen we can come to expect, but that isn’t the case.
There is still plenty for Allen to work on, as is usually the case with third-year quarterbacks. The Bills don’t need Allen to be at the top of any list or to even win the MVP award; they just need him producing at a consistent level, which could be very similar to the passer we saw in the first four games of the season.
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