Throughout every given season, the question of who will or could be the MVP becomes a rollercoaster. Candidates emerge. Some remain viable, others come and go. By the time all 17 games are played, the answer becomes obvious.
This year, the obvious answer is Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
It’s easy to take his wizardry for granted, to expect greatness rather than be awed by it. After a closer-than-expected December win over the Texans, which featured a hook-shot throw that not many quarterbacks in the history of the sport could have made, Mahomes explained that some of his best work happens when he slips into “panic mode.”
For most, panic mode never ends well. For Mahomes, it unlocks a combination of skill and instinct that leads to memorable moments, whether it’s throwing a cross-body laser while running away from pressure or flipping a sudden knuckleball to running back Jerick McKinnon.
And when Mahomes decides to run the ball, he has an uncanny knack for weaving through bodies that lunge and flail hopelessly in an effort to bring him down.
The end result for Mahomes was a single-season record for total offensive output, with 5,250 passing yards, 385 rushing yards, and six receiving yards. That’s 5,614 total yards of offense from Mahomes, who in his fifth year as a starter already has cemented his Hall of Fame credentials.
The next step is trying to get another Super Bowl victory. He said in December that he’d rather win a championship than an MVP award, that he’s won each prize and strongly prefers the one that’s determined in February. No player has managed to do both since Rams quarterback Kurt Warner in 1999.
Others merit consideration as the most valuable in the sport. Bills quarterback Josh Allen, the preseason favorite, had another special season. A tendency to turn the ball over in the red zone dragged him down in the end, however. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, after a slow start caused in large part by an appendectomy, showed that he’s not afraid of anything, as proven by three wins over Mahomes in calendar year 2022.
Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts may have won the prize but for a shoulder injury that caused him to miss multiple late-season games. He can run, he can throw, and above all else he can lead. He explained after a win over the Steelers that he has sensed that the rest of the team has adopted his obsessive focus and determination to win game after game after game.
A couple of non-quarterbacks showed their value as well. The Vikings would have been ordinary at best without receiver Justin Jefferson. And 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa caused folks to stop and think whether it’s time for a defensive player to win the award, for the first time since Lawrence Taylor in 1986.
Still, at the end of the day, it’s Mahomes. The best player at the most important position in the sport. A player who will likely keep doing what he’s been doing at the highest level for another decade, maybe longer.