Early NFL MVP Candidates
Since 1957, the NFL has given players the chance to earn the Most Valuable Player award, otherwise known as the MVP. In each of the last four seasons, we have witnessed quarterbacks take home the trophy, leaving us to wonder how things will shape out by the end of 2017. Here are a few of the early candidates for the 2017-18 NFL MVP:
RB Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs (97 attempts, 609 rushing yards, 6 total TDs)
At the moment, it seems as though rookie running back Kareem Hunt is the early favorite to reel in the MVP award this season. As the Kansas City Chiefs have managed to start the season 5-0, it is largely due to the fact that Hunt is averaging 121.8 yards per game so far. While we can’t expect him to maintain these stats throughout the season, Hunt is leading league in rushing yards by a full 145 yards (ahead of rookie Leonard Fournette).
Aside from playing the Denver Broncos twice and the New York Giants once, the Chiefs won’t be forced to face a whole lot of strong run defenses through the rest of the regular season. If Hunt can capitalize on his remaining carries, expect him to become the first rookie to win an MVP award since Earl Campbell in 1978.
QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (189 attempts, 1,367 passing yards, 13 TDs)
Rodgers, who has won the MVP award in both 2011 and 2014, has been phenomenal this season so far for the Green Bay Packers. With a league-leading 13 touchdown passes this year, Rodgers has somehow guided the Packers towards a 4-1 record to begin the campaign. The veteran gunslinger does have a reputation to get sacked quite a bit, as his offensive line has allowed 19 sacks, the most in the NFL.
Even with the amount of hits Rodgers has been forced to take, it it miraculous that he has been able to lead Green Bay to a optimistic start to 2017, and he will surely be a candidate by the end of the season.
QB Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (158 attempts, 1,391 passing yards, 11 TDs)
While Kareem Hunt may be the more favorable name within the MVP conversation, Alex Smith has gone beyond expectations to start 2017. With no interceptions and no losses under his belt, there should be no worry for the Chiefs to clinch a postseason birth early on. Smith also leads the league in both yards per attempt (8.8) and QBR (125.8).
The Chiefs sit as the only undefeated franchise in the NFL, and much like Hunt, we can’t expect for Smith to finish at the top of every passing category. On the other hand, if Smith can remain conservative as a game manager, we may see the 33-year old take home his first MVP award.
QB Tom Brady, New England Patriots (195 attempts, 1,702 passing yards, 11 TDs)
Brady, much like Rodgers, is a name that will rightfully be placed into the MVP debate at the start of each season. With 1,702 passing yards, that staggering amount is more than enough to lead the league. At the current age of 40, Brady is currently the oldest starting quarterback in the NFL. On a side note, the 16 sacks he has taken so far have caused a sense of worry among Patriots fans.
With a whole lot of football left to be played, Brady usually hits his stride through the second half of the regular season. I’m sure he is much more focused on a sixth Super Bowl, but a third MVP award would make for icing on the cake.
RB Todd Gurley III, Los Angeles Rams (100 attempts, 405 rushing yards, 7 total TDs)
Kareem Hunt may be the most dominant running back at the moment, but don’t underestimate Todd Gurley quite yet. With four rushing touchdowns, Gurley also has an additional three receiving touchdowns under his belt in 2017. While he may be a scoring machine so far, his five fumbles in the first five weeks may become a hindrance to his MVP case.
The Rams have been able to average 30+ points per game, and often use their run game to run out the clock within the second half. If Los Angeles can continue to utilize Gurley in the second half of the season, his case may be taken more seriously as time goes on.
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