Many factors have contributed to the Eagles’ perfect 7-0 start to the season.
There’s the dominant secondary, which is allowing just 183.7 passing yards per game through Week 8. Then there’s the punishing run game, which is at 149.6 rushing yards per contest.
At the center of it all is quarterback Jalen Hurts, who continues to improve each year. With the addition of star receiver A.J. Brown, Hurts has developed into a legitimate MVP candidate. Entering Thursday’s game against the Texans, the third-year signal-caller has 1,799 passing yards, 16 total touchdowns (10 passing, six rushing) and two interceptions.
On Thursday’s edition of “PFT Live,” NBC Sports analysts Mike Florio and Chris Simms debated whether or not Hurts could actually win league MVP.
While there are strong candidates across the NFL, Florio believes it’s a two-horse race between Hurts and Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen.
“You have to be the No. 1 seed and a quarterback to have a realistic shot at it,” Florio said. “Maybe this year (Miami Dolphins receiver) Tyreek Hill draws some votes if he has 2,000 receiving yards. It takes tremendous statistical achievement to get there, but right now it would be Jalen Hurts or Josh Allen.”
Even though the Eagles boast a perfect record, Florio sees Allen as the favorite right now. The Bills’ signal-caller has 2,198 passing yards, 21 total touchdowns (19 passing, two rushing) and six interceptions on the season.
“I feel like right now it’s Allen because there’s a sense that he’s done more,” Florio said. “He’s been there before. He’s been the wire to wire favorite. But I think there’s a chance Jalen Hurts ends up as the MVP. … It could come down to those two guys if the Eagles and Bills are the No. 1 seeds in each conference.”
Simms disagreed with the statement that the MVP has to come from the No. 1 seed, using Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes as an example. The 2018 MVP has 2,159 passing yards, 20 passing touchdowns and five interceptions this season.
“Patrick Mahomes is going to go above Jalen Hurts for me,” Simms said. “If you’re the No. 2 seed with still an impressive record, maybe lost the tiebreaker to the Bills, then I don’t dock the MVP voting for that. The AFC is tough – it’s a lot tougher than the NFC.
“To me, those two guys (Allen and Mahomes) are on another level than the rest of the league. They are head and shoulders above the rest of the league. There’s not an offense in football that Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes can’t play in. I can go to Jalen Hurts and say there’s a lot of offenses that he wouldn’t fit in. There’s a difference there.”
While crediting Hurts’ ability to enhance the Eagles’ offense with his legs, Simms was quick to point out that Philly’s strong roster makes things easier for the quarterback.
“There’s no holes on the Eagles,” Simms said. “Jalen Hurts’ ability to run advances what they do and that’s awesome. Again, he’s a good deep ball thrower. But it’s not special throwing, it’s not surgical, pick-you-apart. It’s not the same level. If you put Mahomes or Allen in this offense I’d say it’s not fair and the league is over, Philly is going to win the Super Bowl, there’s no point to even playing the games. I don’t want to downplay what Jalen Hurts is doing, but those guys are on another level right now. They are the MVPs of football.
“[Hurts] deserves to be in the MVP conversation, but I just don’t view him as the same quality of player as those guys.”
Before wrapping up the conversation, Florio stumped Simms with one simple (and increasingly realistic) question:
“What if they go 17-0?”
Even if Hurts’ stats aren’t on Allen or Mahomes’ level, a perfect season would be tough to top.
The Eagles will face the Texans in Houston on Thursday Night Football before returning home to face the Washington Commanders on Monday Night Football in Week 10.