Patriots

Sorry, Wentz but Brady's still the MVP

Sorry, Wentz but Brady's still the MVP

There’s been a lot of talk about a burgeoning Philly-Boston rivalry this week. A big part of that is that the cities have the top two candidates for NFL MVP this season. Should the Eagles and Pats meet in February, it would mark the second straight season in which the top two MVP vote-getters squared off in the Super Bowl. 

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But make no mistake: While Carson Wentz and Tom Brady are the front-runners for the award, the winner should without question be Brady. He’s having the better season. 

The allure with Wentz is that he’s a lot better than we thought a lot sooner than we thought. In just his second year, he’s an absolute stud: 28 touchdowns, five picks, 2,657 passing yards and a 73.4 total QBR. 

Yet for all the different ways you can try to define what the MVP means in the NFL (Best player? Best player on the best team? Most touchdowns?) it surely doesn’t mean “surprisingly great player of the year.” 

And that’s where Brady comes in. His performance has come as no surprise: 26 TDs, three picks, 3,374 passing yards and a 71.4 total QBR. 

While Wentz edges Brady in touchdowns and total QBR, Brady blows him out of the water in passing yards, touchdown/interception ratio and completion percentage (68.4 percent to 60.2 percent). 

What makes this a fun discussion is that Brady hasn’t run away with the MVP so much so that he can’t be caught. With a stellar finish to the season, Wentz can wrest it from him. But what about Brady’s finish to the season? 

The Patriots have five games remaining. One of them is against Pittsburgh, which should provide a challenge. Look at the other four, however, and Brady could really do some damage. The Pats have two games against the Bills, who rank 22nd against the pass this season. Another is against the Dolphins, on whom Brady just dropped four touchdowns. By the time the Pats even face the Jets in Week 17, they might not even need to use Brady.

The Eagles have some easy opponents too: Wentz should be able to perform against the poor passing defenses of Dallas, Oakland and the Giants. But will it be enough to surpass Brady? The guess here is no. Plus, Wentz’ current three-game streak without an interception is his longest of the season. That could end this week against the Seahawks. 

Should Philadelphia and Boston turn into a multi-sport rivalry, Wentz and Brady could be a big part of it. They just aren’t yet because, as usual, it’s tough for anyone to touch Tom Brady. 
 

Dolphins' Wake promises pain for Patriots on Monday night

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Dolphins' Wake promises pain for Patriots on Monday night

Monday night, Cameron Wake will be trying to hurt Tom Brady. Pain – inflicting it, enduring it, the specter of it – is a football fact of life.

And no matter how hard the NFL tries to legislate out the danger of the game, it will always be inherent. Brady gets that better than Wake does. He’s been on the receiving end of it a lot longer than Wake’s been dishing it out. And while Brady’s gets to do his job with plenty of protections, he spends a lot more time prone and vulnerable than Wake does.

The Dolphins defensive end went deep last week talking about the nature of the game, the protections afforded, the risks players take and what he sees as the inconsistencies.

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Asked about the injury suffered by Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier last week, Wake said, “I’ve seen a lot of injuries so, unfortunately, that comes along with. This is my thing: I want to hurt everybody I play. I don’t want to injure anybody.

“I want you to be able to get up and go to the next play or feed your family and play next week but I want you to say ‘Man, Cameron Wake …’ ” Wake continued. “I don’t want you to be off the team or like not playing. I want you to obviously be physically defeated. I want to intimidate. I don’t want you to be harmed beyond tomorrow at all. It doesn’t always work that way.”

Continuing, Wake did a little math to make a very good point.

“We have 10 guys on IR or whatever? I’m sure every team has about that with 50 players on a team and then when you think about a 90-man roster … That’s a 20 percent chance every time you’re on the field, a 20 percent chance that whatever happens to you, you’re not going to play football this year.”

As appetizing as the NFL tries to make its product for the masses, the truth is that every single one of the players in the league has reconciled himself to the brutal, primitive nature of the game in which an opponent isn’t just defeated but beaten – literally.

Which means you will see a quarterback exhibit the fencing response as Tom Savage did Sunday, a linebacker unable to walk off the field because he can’t feel his legs as Shazier did last Monday or a well-liked tight end go barbaric on an opponent who made him mad as Rob Gronkowski did last Sunday.

Consumers, advertisers, social media and fans recoil. But violence is as much a part of the game as the football.

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Eagles announce Wentz has torn ACL, out for rest of year

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Eagles announce Wentz has torn ACL, out for rest of year

PHILADELPHIA -- Eagles star quarterback Carson Wentz has a torn left ACL and will miss rest of the season and playoffs, coach Doug Pederson confirmed.

Wentz, a favorite in the NFL MVP race, had an MRI on Monday that revealed the severity of the injury. Wentz was hurt late in the third quarter Sunday at Los Angeles. Backup Nick Foles rallied the Eagles (11-2) to a 43-35 win over the Rams that secured the NFC East title and put them in first place in the conference with three games remaining.

The Eagles have overcome several key injuries and now have to move forward without their most indispensable player. Nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, return specialist/running back Darren Sproles, star linebacker Jordan Hicksand special teams captain Chris Maragos already went down for the season.

"If there's ever an opportunity for me to rally the troops as the football coach, now might be the time," Pederson said. "You can't lose faith. This has been a resilient football team all season long."

After starting all 16 games as a rookie, Wentz made a giant leap this year. He passed for 3,296 yards and set a franchise single-season record with 33 touchdown passes while only tossing seven interceptions.

Foles led the Eagles to a pair of field goals on consecutive drives against the Rams. He is 20-17 as a starter in six seasons with the Eagles, Rams and Chiefs.

Pederson insisted the offense won't change with Foles.

"He's a highly intelligent football player," Pederson said.

A third-round pick by former Eagles coach Andy Reid in 2012, Foles in his second stint in Philadelphia. He replaced an injured Michael Vick in 2013 and led the Eagles to an NFC East title during Chip Kelly's first season as coach. Foles tied an NFL record with seven TD passes in a game at Oakland in November 2013 and finished that season with 27 TDs and only two picks. The Eagles lost at home to New Orleans in the playoffs. Foles went to the Pro Bowl and was the offensive MVP.

But Kelly traded Foles to St. Louis for Sam Bradford after the 2014 season. Foles spent a year with the Rams, a season with the Chiefs and returned to Philadelphia as a free agent this season.

Second-year pro Nate Sudfeld is Philadelphia's No. 3 quarterback. Pederson said he hasn't spoken to personnel boss Howie Roseman about adding a third quarterback yet.

"I'm absolutely ready to go - need be," Foles said after the win over the Rams. "I prepare every day."