The case for Carson Wentz still winning MVP (Corey Seidman)
Prior to Monday Night Football, Bovada listed Tom Brady as the MVP favorite and Carson Wentz was no longer listed. Had the Patriots blown out the Dolphins as many expected, Brady would have surged into the MVP lead.
But he didn't. The Patriots' offense couldn't get anything going, failing to convert a single third down for the first time since 1991.
And even though Brady will probably play three more games this season than Carson Wentz, I still think Wentz can and will win MVP.
There are a bunch of reasons why.
1. Wentz led his team to an 11-2 record and put it in position to clinch the top seed in the conference, and the Eagles don't even have to be perfect the rest of the way to do it.
2. The key play that could end up enabling the Eagles to get home-field advantage through the playoffs was that gutsy touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery. Which Wentz delivered with a torn ACL. And which set the Eagles' franchise record for TD passes in a season.
That kind of mystique matters come awards time.
3. Brady was a legitimate contender for the MVP award last season when he played just 12 games because of the four-game suspension. He finished second in MVP voting with 10 votes, behind Matt Ryan's 25.
4. Aside from Wentz and Brady, who are even the top candidates for MVP this season? Russell Wilson? His team isn't even currently in the playoffs. Antonio Brown? A wide receiver has never won MVP, even though Brown is deserving of breaking that trend. If Brown goes off against the Patriots on Sunday, it might make him the frontrunner.
Standing in his way, however, is the tremendous success of his own teammate, Le'Veon Bell. Bell and Brown each have nine total touchdowns, and Bell has 1,684 yards from scrimmage compared to Brown's 1,518. How would you justify giving it to Brown over his equally deserving teammate?
If one of Brady, Bell or Brown has an enormous game Sunday, they could catapult to the top of the list. But if they have just an average game, Wentz will remain toward the top.
5. Voter fatigue is real with Brady, and this isn't even shaping up to be one of his best seasons. His 105.2 passer rating is just the fifth-highest of his career. His 27-to-6 touchdown to interception ratio is just the fifth-best of his career. His yards per attempt are fourth-best.
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The case against Carson Wentz still winning MVP (Dave Zangaro)
The Eagles haven't had an MVP since the 1960 season, when Norm Van Brocklin took the honor.
They'll have to wait at least one more season.
Because when Wentz went down on Sunday night, his MVP chances went with it.
Sure, the Eagles' quarterback had a really good first 13 games. His team went 11-2. He threw for 3,296 yards, with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Those are really good numbers.
But he just didn't play enough.
The last time an NFL MVP played just 13 or fewer games was 1989, when Joe Montana won his first of two straight. Since then, of the 29 MVPs all 29 have played at least 14 games and 23 of them have played all 16.
Sure, Brady finished second in MVP voting last season after playing just 12 games. But he didn't win it. And that was after 12 games in which he threw for over 3,500 yards, with 28 touchdowns and just two interceptions. His passer rating in those 12 games was 112.2. Wentz's this season was 101.9.
What's even more notable was that Brady's 12 games in 2016 came in the last 12 games of the season after missing the first four because of suspension. When voting happened, Brady was still on the forefront of everyone's mind, leading his team into the playoffs. Wentz won't be forgotten, but recency has even more pull than mystique in voting.
And then there are the candidates this year. Brady is the clear frontrunner. He's having another tremendous season. No, he didn't perform well on Monday night, but do you really expect him to not play well down the stretch?
And the crazy thing about Brady is he's widely considered the greatest quarterback of all time, but has just two MVP awards. To put that in perspective, Peyton Manning has five, while Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas and Brett Favre each have three. Brady is tied with Steve Young, Kurt Warner, Joe Montana and Aaron Rodgers with two.
So in some cases, voter fatigue might be a real thing, but in this case, it would make sense to see Brady get another one.
Really, the way Wentz's worth to the Eagles would easily be proven is if the Eagles completely collapse down the stretch with Nick Foles. But with games against the Giants, Raiders and Cowboys, that seems unlikely. The Eagles win, Wentz loses.
But there's always next year ... and the year after that.