The new NFL season is merely days away and we’re going to be taking a look at the top contenders for some of the game’s yearly awards over the next day or so.
Today, we’re kicking it off and going all guns blazing, with a look at the main candidates who can take home the NFL Most Valuable Player award, following Tom Brady who managed to pick it up for the third time in 2017.
Now we all know that the MVP is pretty much a “best quarterback on the best team” award so we’re going to try and liven things up a little. Follow us in…
5) Aaron Donald
Do I think Aaron Donald has a good shot at being named the MVP? Not really. But he has the best chance of any defender in a long, long time.
Donald is by far and away the best defensive player in football at the moment and that’s why the Rams paid so much to keep the monster D-tackle on their squad rather than risk him terrorising Jared Goff and Todd Gurley in the future.
So, what will it take for the big man to win the big one?
Donald was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2017 after putting up 41 tackles, 11 sacks, and five forced fumbles.
To win MVP, the Rams will need to be at least 13-3 on the season (which is doable) and Donald needs to up those numbers. If he were to reach the 18-20 sack mark, and keep up all the other facets of his game, then he becomes a real contender.
4) Todd Gurley
Another place in the rankings goes to a non-quarterback, and it’s another Los Angeles Ram. Man, they are drafting some absolute studs for head coach Sean McVay to mold and play with.
After his first two years were pretty much ruined by the actions of a declining Jeff Fisher, who decided Gurley couldn’t play all three downs, the former Georgia running back exploded into life and proved all the doubters wrong in 2017.
Going off for over 2,000 all-purpose yards and 19 total touchdowns, Gurley was named AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year and firmly cemented himself as the best running back in the league. He got paid like it too this offseason, as the Rams gave him a well-deserved four-year, $60 million contract extension.
To win MVP, though, is an entirely different question. What will it take? Simple…A real run at Eric Dickerson’s rushing record. No one has joined the 2,000-Yard Club since Adrian Peterson back in 2012. What happened in 2012? AP was named MVP, the last non-QB to get their hands on the award.
3) Tom Brady
If Tom Brady were to claim his fourth MVP trophy it would put him in a league of his own, surpassing Brett Favre, Johnny Unitas and Jim Brown, all three-time winners long with Brady.
While he didn’t quite get his hands on a sixth Super Bowl – thank you, Philly – Brady did win the MVP after injuries took early contenders Deshaun Watson and Carson Wentz out of the running.
Can Brady win it again? Of course. Do we really want him to? Well, that’s another question entirely.
But Brady’s chances don’t look great this year. The Patriots offense really doesn’t look as strong heading into 2018, with left tackle Nate Solder on the Giants, Brandin Cooks traded to the Rams and a suspension to Julian Edelman.
However, if there’s one thing Tom Brady loves it’s proving people wrong. This should be fun.
2) Carson Wentz
Wentz looked like he was storming to the MVP title all the way throughout 2017. And then came week 14 against the Rams.
After taking off and while in the process of diving into the endzone for a touchdown, Wentz was clattered by two Rams defenders, getting sandwiched in between them and ultimately suffering a torn ACL.
The Eagles were an NFL-best 10-2 at the time, beating the Rams to go 11-2 before Nick Foles took over and led them to Super Bowl success.
But Wentz is going to be back in 2018, likely in Week 2 or 3, and should he return to the field at the same level as he was in 2017 (33 TDs to just 7 INTS) then he could claim what was taken away from him last year.
1) Aaron Rodgers
The most talented quarterback to ever the play the game, it seems crazy that Aaron Rodgers still only has one Super Bowl title to his name and has only been named NFL MVP twice – back in 2011 and 2014.
Well, 2018 could finally be his year to break that barren spell.
After making his comeback from the broken collarbone that derailed his 2017 campaign, well done Anthony Barr, Rodgers can come back with a real bang to cement himself back at the top of rankings.
With an improved rushing attack in Green Bay and Davante Adams coming into his own as an elite option at wide receiver, Rodgers has the weapons to do some damage this year. Now, the Packers will need to be good as a team for Rodgers to have a chance, so the defense will need to do their part in that regards.
But we have faith in A-A-Ron. The year of the comeback is beginning ladies and gentlemen. Buckle in.