The start of the NFL season began Thursday night and will continue with an action-packed Sunday. There will be many exciting games that will take place tomorrow but one main question that has been focused upon is, “Is there a clear favorite for the NFL MVP award heading into Week 1?”. I believe that there is a slight favorite to win the award, although there is a larger group than usual who could be in the running. That group consists of former Super Bowl champion, Patrick Mahomes, former MVP, Lamar Jackson, and second-year player, Kyler Murray. With these odds set for the season, it appears that some of the past competitors for the awards such as Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers may be aging out of the competition. With the three players in the running for the MVP award laid out, it’s time to evaluate why each player could win as well as what could hold them back.
Patrick Mahomes – Kansas City Chiefs Quarterback
To begin the discussion we will focus on the former Super Bowl champion and the Chiefs starting quarterback, Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes is currently a 4th-year player, although he has only started at quarterback for two seasons. Despite having a lack of experience compared to some of the other MVP candidates, Mahomes has many factors on his side that can significantly contribute to him winning the MVP. First off, Mahomes will likely be much healthier allowing him to put up bigger numbers than he did last year. For those of you who do not know, Patrick Mahomes dislocated his knee last season taking him off of the field for two games. Because of his injury, Mahomes Dipped from having 5000 plus yards and 50 touchdowns in 2018 to only 4,000 yards and half as many touchdowns in 2019. Since his injury, Mahomes has become a Super Bowl champion and the highest-paid player in the league. Mahomes has also had a long time to recover from his knee injury, leading me to believe that he will be able to maintain healthiness throughout the 2020 season as well as put up numbers greater than he did in 2019.
Another reason why Patrick Mahomes could very well win MVP this season is that Mahomes still has all the same receivers that he won the Super Bowl with last season and he has Andy Reid as his coach once again. Patrick Mahomes is talented enough on his own but his wide receivers certainly help him to gain attention as well as to bolster his statistics. Catching passes from Mahomes are the fantastic players in Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Mecole Hardman. All of these players are very physical and talented players that have shown to benefit the team’s offense over the past few seasons and with Mahomes coming off of a contract extension that will allow him to spend his whole career in Kansas City, he will be ready to get to work. Despite the countless positives that could help Mahomes win the MVP, there is one main thing that could stop him in his tracks. As mentioned earlier, Mahomes suffered from a dislocated knee in 2019. Although Mahomes has shown that he’s recovered well from the injury, we cannot completely rule out the possibility of a redislocation. All in all, Patrick Mahomes is likely the favorite to win the MVP, especially if he can stay healthy throughout the season.
Lamar Jackson – Baltimore Ravens Quarterback
The second player who has great odds to win the MVP award this year is last year’s MVP winner, Lamar Jackson. Lamar Jackson is likely the most versatile player in the league and is only coming into his third season. Jackson is coming off of a fantastic season where he led the Ravens to the playoffs, before failing to advance versus the Tennessee Titans in the AFC divisional round. Last season Jackson put up over 3000 passing yards and set a new record for rushing yards as a quarterback with 1200. It’s needless to say that Lamar Jackson was the best player in the league last season but the question is, can you hold the spot for this season? Something that really helped Lamar Jackson to win the MVP last season was the injury to Patrick Mahomes. Patrick Mahomes is now healthy and is certainly the largest threat to Lamar Jackson in terms of the MVP award. Two things that could increase Lamar Jackson’s chance to win the MVP award are the Raven’s offseason additions as well as the 2nd year players who now have enough experience to contribute to the offense at a much higher level.
Over the offseason, the Ravens focused on their defense the most but did not forget about their offense. They signed 1 wide receiver in free agency and continued to draft 2 more in the NFL draft. On top of adding wide receiver talent, the Ravens drafted running back JK Dobbins, who could have a monumental impact on the team’s running game. The reason that the team’s offseason editions could help Lamar Jackson win MVP is simple. As most people know, a team’s final record is taken into account when choosing an MVP winner. With all of the helpful additions to the team, I believe that the Ravens will have a better chance at ending the season with a higher record. Now for the second reason that Lamar Jackson could win the MVP award. In 2019, the Ravens had quite a few rookies who seemed to have a lot of potential but little experience. The main rookie that everyone was paying attention to was wide receiver, Marquise Brown. Marquise Brown was one of the most talented offensive players in the 2018 NFL draft and the Ravens managed to pick him up. Brown showed outstanding potential last season and gained an abundance of experience. I believe that his level of experience will allow for Marquise Brown to put up significant numbers this season and draw more attention to Lamar Jackson’s passing game. One thing that could negatively impact Lamar Jackson’s chance to win the MVP award is his high injury risk. Since Lamar Jackson is a very versatile player, he runs the ball frequently which is considered quite dangerous for a quarterback. Although Jackson went the entire 2018 and 2019 season without injury, there’s always the high-risk level since he is running so much. In conclusion, I view Lamar Jackson as the closest competitor to win the MVP award with Patrick Mahomes, I just believe it will come down to who can stay healthier for longer.
Kyler Murray – Arizona Cardinals Quarterback
Kyler Murray is the final quarterback who is certainly in the discussion to win the MVP award. Murray is a second-year player out of Oklahoma University. Murray is the former number one overall pick in the NFL draft as well as the 2019 Rookie of the Year. You may be surprised to see only a second-year player on a list of potential MVP winners, but you must remember that Lamar Jackson exploded last season to win the MVP award in only his second season. If you compare Kyler Murray’s rookie season to Lamar Jackson’s rookie season, you will notice that Kyler Murray threw for 1000 more yards than Lamar Jackson and started five times as many games as him. Because of this, Kyler Murray has much more experience going into his second season then Lamar Jackson did. Kyler Murray also has a similar playstyle as Lamar Jackson in the way that he runs the ball very well and often depends on his running game to get him out of sticky situations. If you think that Kyler Murray’s 2019 statistics were good then you could be amazed by his 2020 statistics considering that he now has one of the best wide receivers in the league, being DeAndre Hopkins.
Two factors that could help Murray to be at the top of the MVP voting are Arizona’s very improved upon offense and his new level of experience coming into this season. The Arizona Cardinals improved tremendously over the offseason with their biggest edition being star receiver, DeAndre Hopkins. On top of Arizona’s new and improved team, they will get to witness much more experienced Kyler Murray in action. Although there are large factors that could help Murray to win the MVP award there are a couple of main things that could take his chances away quickly. As mentioned for the previous two candidates, injury risk is definitely something to keep an eye on for Kyler Murray considering how often he runs the ball. Another thing that could potentially harm Murray’s chances to win the MVP award is if he can’t take advantage of DeAndre Hopkins talent. DeAndre Hopkins is known to be one of the best players in the league but Kyler Murray is one of the best running quarterbacks in the league. With that noted, Kyler Murray will have to figure out how to balance passing to one of the best receivers in the league while running when needed. In closing, Kyler Murray has the potential to become only the sixth player to ever win the MVP within their first two seasons but in order to do so, he needs to be on his A-game and establish a consistent connection with DeAndre Hopkins.
To sum everything up, there are some fantastic candidates that could win the MVP award this season. The candidates that I focused on are Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Kyler Murray. All three of these players are quarterbacks who are within their first five seasons in the NFL. After evaluating each candidate, I’ve decided that Patrick Mahomes is most likely to win the award with Kyler Murray following him in second, and Lamar Jackson coming in third. All three quarterbacks are very versatile players, meaning that they can both run and pass the ball very well. It will ultimately come down to who can stay healthy for longer and who can find a good balance between passing and running. The NFL season is now going on and I’m sure it will fly by, so with the three main MVP candidates laid out only one question remains. Which of these phenomenal players will win the MVP award? As the great Peyton Manning once said, “The most valuable player is the one who makes the most players valuable” and that is what it will come down to.
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