As the 2020 NFL season is underway, we’re already on MVP watch.
Week in and week out players will bolster their cases for the illustrious award. Some will make better ones than others, but this early in the season, anything can happen. There are currently a few quarterbacks you would expect to see atop the list and some often forgotten position groups in the mix as well.
Here are the top 10 players who helped start their MVP campaign this past week:
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
One thing has to be addressed first: Russell Wilson has received exactly zero MVP votes in his now-nine-year career. While Lamar Jackson was certainly deserving of the unanimous honor last season, it’s preposterous Wilson hasn’t garnered a single vote for his effort the past seven years, which includes two Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl victory. Wilson continues to play at an MVP-caliber level and showed it in Week 1 with a 322-yard, four-touchdown performance in a 38-25 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
To no one’s surprise, Lamar Jackson had a day in his season-opening obliteration of the Cleveland Browns. The matchup was always in the Baltimore Ravens’ favor, and Jackson showed why he received all 50 votes last season with a 275-yard, three-touchdown game. Baltimore infused its roster with even more talent in an effort to extend its season beyond the divisional round. If Jackson keeps up his high-level of play, which shows no signs of slowing down, the Ravens will likely get over that hump while he remains a front-runner for his second consecutive award.
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
The great quarterbacks will continue to be, well, great. We see it with Jackson, Wilson, and here with Patrick Mahomes. All three will be in the running (and favorites) for this season’s MVP award, barring any injury, but the odds are literally in Mahomes’ favor. After he led the Kansas City Chiefs to a Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers last season, Mahomes opened 2020 with a resounding 34-20 victory against the Deshaun Watson-led Houston Texans. Mahomes let it fly to a tune of 211 yards and three touchdowns in the first live game of the season. Without the elongated offseason and no preseason to get acclimated to the pace of the season, Mahomes returned to form without a hitch.
Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals
The young quarterback in Arizona finally has a big-time offensive playmaker to pair with him in the Air Raid offense head coach Kliff Kingsbury loves to run. Kyler Murray was able to win the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award with a semi-depleted roster last season when the Cardinals finished 5-10-1. Now, with DeAndre Hopkins filling out the receiving corps, along with veteran Larry Fitzgerald, Murray has everything at his disposal to end this season with more hardware. He favored Hopkins in Week 1 and finished the day 26-of-40 passing for 230 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. It was a perfect showing, but the sophomore passer just needs a little more time to warm up.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals
It’s been a while, a long while, since a wide receiver even got a vote for the NFL’s MVP award. Randy Moss was the last pass-catcher to do so in 1998, and before him, Jerry Rice finished second in voting (to John Elway) in 1987.
However, if there is any receiver that’s going to be in the running this season, it’s Hopkins. He, along with Murray, can bring the Cardinals’ offense to life. Hopkins already set career-high marks in his debut Sunday with 14 receptions and proved to be a much-needed target for Murray. Hopkins finished the day with more than 50% of the team’s air yard share.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
If Aaron Rodgers needed any more motivation to chase his third MVP title, it came this offseason when the Green Bay Packers drafted quarterback Jordan Love in the first round. Love will most likely redshirt this season, but it’s clear the Packers are thinking long term and have Rodgers’ potential replacement already learning the system. Rodgers, who slightly regressed last year with his lowest quarterback rating (95.4) in the last five seasons, can quiet the critics with another strong season. He’s already off to a good start after a 364-yard, four-touchdown season opener.
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
Christian McCaffrey had an MVP-worthy sophomore season, totaling more than 1,380 yards with 15 touchdowns. He was the driving force of the Carolina Panthers’ offense and will continue to play that role this year. He’s put up back-to-back 1,000-plus yard seasons and has been in at least 93% of the team’s snaps the last two years. He gets the time and touches to continue that streak and, in a new offense, will be a steady presence. McCaffrey had 134 total yards and two rushing touchdowns in Week 1. It looks like he’ll once again be Carolina’s offense in 2020.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger’s MVP odds improved as he progressed through training camp following an injury-shortened 2019 season. When he stepped onto the field for the first time in 2020, those odds continued to improve. Roethlisberger, while at times gripping various parts of his aging body, looked good, or at least better than some may have expected after undergoing elbow surgery last year. In a mismatch with the New York Giants, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback threw for 229 yards and three touchdowns. He had a 117.8 quarterback rating—his highest since Week 14 of the 2018 season (130.4)—and completed 66% of his passes.
Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
While spite might be fueling Rodgers’ MVP campaign, Packers wide receiver Davante Adams is hoping to build off a 2019 season that had him in MVP conversations—at least in terms of talent on this roster. Adams has emerged as one of the top receivers in the NFL and another strong season can keep him in conversations that extend beyond this team and the division. He opened the season with 156 yards and two touchdowns on 14 receptions.
Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders
Josh Jacobs had an extremely successful rookie season while playing with a shoulder injury. In his first season with the Las Vegas Raiders, he totaled more than 1,300 yards. He’ll continue to play a big role in the team’s success this season, and if the Raiders get to the playoffs, it’ll likely be because of his efforts running behind one of the league’s better offensive lines. Jacobs found the end zone three times in Week 1 and had 139 total yards. He also had a career-high six targets and four catches. If he continues to have a significant role in the passing game, he could be as valuable to the Raiders this season as McCaffrey was to the Panthers last year.