The Front-Runners For 2016 NFL MVP Are Stunning

The reigning NFC champion, Cam Newton-led Carolina Panthers are in last place. The Dallas Cowboys have the best record in the NFC. And Tom Brady actually started the season suspended. Let’s just say the 2016 NFL season has been bizarre.

The New England Patriots still look like the team to beat for February’s Super Bowl. And while the Cowboys (10-1) , Raiders (9-2) — and dare I say, Chiefs (8-3) — honestly look like possible Super Bowl contenders as well, it’s been an even more bizarre season regarding NFL MVP.

Brady currently has the best passer rating (116.7). But again, he missed the first four games via suspension.

Who the media likes — and that’s who votes, so it matters — are a pair of Cowboys rookies and a Raider.

Because Dallas is 10-1 and the MVP stands for most valuable player, the media won’t stop talking about rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott.

The case for Prescott

PIPrescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys passes as center Travis Frederick #72 blocks defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt of the Pittsburgh Steelers during a game at Heinz Field on November 13, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Cowboys defeated the Steelers 35-30. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

Prescott has helped lead the Cowboys to the best record in the NFL and has arguably been better than Tony Romo at his peak, but he hasn’t been the most valuable player in all of football. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

He has 18 TDs. Just 2 interceptions.

His passer rating is 108.6 (4th in the NFL).

2,835 passing yards.

He stole the job from Tony Romo.

But why he isn’t the MVP

Don’t give it to him just because his team has the best record. While quarterback is the most important position in sports, football is a sport that involves 21 other starters. It’s a complete team effort that’s essentially a giant chess match.

Sure, Prescott’s TD/INT ratio is amazing. But he ranks 14th in the NFL in TDs and passing yards overall. Seriously, he’s 12 touchdowns and 700 yards behind the league’s passing leader.

The case for Derek Carr

Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders celebrates after defeating the Houston Texans at Estadio Azteca on November 21, 2016 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders celebrates after defeating the Houston Texans at Estadio Azteca on November 21, 2016 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

The media loves him, and he’s been solid, leading the Raiders to their best record since 2002.

3,115 passing yards (5th in the NFL)

22 TDs (7th in the NFL)

Just 5 interceptions

100.5 passer rating (7th in the NFL)

But why he isn’t the MVP

Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Kirk Cousins are all just as worthy of consideration for MVP.

While Cousins is second in the NFL in passing (3,540 yards) and Ryan is third in passing (3,516) and second in TDs (26 TDs, only 6 INTs), Brees is putting up hall-of-fame numbers yet again.

The Saints quarterback leads the NFL in passing (3,587 yards), touchdowns (30 TDs, just 8 INTs) and is third in passer rating.

The case for Elliott

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) scored two touchdowns against the Washington Redskins on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Steve Nurenberg/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images)

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) scored two touchdowns against the Washington Redskins on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Steve Nurenberg/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images)

1,199 yards rushing (1st in the NFL)

11 rushing TDs (2nd in the NFL)

12 overall TDs (2nd in the NFL)

The rookie has three fumbles, but that’s not terrible for a guy averaging 109 rushing yards per game (the guy in 2nd is at 87 yards per game) and 22 attempts per game (leads the NFL).

So who is the NFL’s MVP?

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 17: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints drops back to pass against the Carolina Panthers in the second quarter during the game at Bank of America Stadium on November 17, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Not Brady, not Rodgers, not Roethlisburger, not Cam, not Russell Wilson, no AP. In my opinion, no question Elliott or Brees are on track to win the award.

But I’m also not a voting member of the media. And I’m in the camp that believes the MVP should go to the best player who is having the best season.

Unfortunately, because the Saints have a losing record, and the MVP almost always goes to a winning team, you can bank on Elliott being the first rookie NFL MVP since Earl Campbell in 1978. The other running back to win both Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season? Jim Brown, another Hall of Famer.

A Cowboys rookie running back may be even better than Emmitt Smith and may lead his team to the Super Bowl? Next you’ll tell me the Cubs will win the World Series …

Oh yea.


Josh Helmuth is the editor of Crave Sports.

Photo: Getty