Even after playing in just 12 games this season, Tom Brady has a legitimate shot at being named league MVP. He finished the year with a 28-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio and he led the Patriots to a record of 11-1 once he returned from his four-game suspension for Deflategate.
There are others who will be in contention for the honor, like Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. But judging by what Brady had to say on WEEI's Kirk and Callahan show Monday, it sounded as though he would be just fine with it if one of those players were to be named more "valuable" than him.
"I get messages from friends that say, 'Man, you've had such a great year.' But I really don't think about it," Brady said. "Football's a team sport. The reality is the MVP is usually a quarterback that's on a good team. It [eliminates] every defensive player, every running back, every receiver that are all the greatest athletes in the world. It's really a quarterback award, and there's a lot of great quarterbacks.
"It's impossible to choose someone that's most valuable to a team. There's a lot of great players in the NFL. It's very flattering to be mentioned as one of those players. But I've always been about winning, and our team winning. That's always been most important to me, and that will always be most important to me."
When asked if he felt as though he was playing as well as he's ever played, Brady didn't say yes or no. He did, however, point to one statistic that he was particularly proud of.
"I love throwing [only] two picks," Brady said. "That's the highlight of what my season has been for me. That's something that I really love being a part of because it's not just the quarterback. Those come down to receivers catching the ball, and being in the right place, and the great protection up front. We've had all those things play into it.
"I think the No. 1 thing for a quarterback that means the most to me is that I never want to be the reason we lose a game. Every week our No. 1 goal is not to turn the ball over. For us to have two interceptions on the year as a quarterback group . . . I think that does put your team in a great position when you're not throwing picks.
"Coach [Bill Belichick] always says you can't win until you stop from losing. That's a great formula. Turnover ratio, turnover margin, there's no stat that correlates more to winning than that. That's why I think our team's been so successful over the years because we don't turn the ball over as often as our opponents do."
Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo (zero picks) and Jacoby Brissett (zero picks) combined to break the NFL record for fewest interceptions thrown in a season. The previous record was five, and Brady was well aware.
"Going into the game, I didn't want to throw three," he said with a laugh. "But it's a good stat. It's a good stat. It correlates to team success, and that's what it's all about for me."