We’re into Week 13, so it is about that time for me to rant about the NFL’s MVP race.
The 2015 MVP Race Is FUBAR
Seriously. Where in the world is Carson Palmer (and Carmen Sandiego for that matter)?
This has been a terrible season for MVP discussion, because it seems like the people having the discussion have never paid any attention to what usually qualifies for an MVP season in the NFL.
Team record has been driving the debate this year with the Patriots (now 10-1) and Panthers (11-0) having their quarterbacks on top of most lists regardless of performance. Team record matters, but you never had to be a No. 1 seed just to be discussed. Look at Aaron Rodgers last year. Of course, some like to be hypocritical and throw J.J. Watt into the mix, but I thought we killed that noise last year of how a defensive player almost can never be MVP. And are we really just going to ignore that the Texans were behind by over 40 points in two different games to start this season? Give him his DPOY (if that) and move on already.
Yet I saw a Friday poll on NFL Network for MVP that included Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton and J.J. Watt.
Frankly, I’m shocked they didn’t throw in Aaron Rodgers after a gift-wrapped Hail Mary to beat the Lions. Sure, we’ll just ignore he’s having his worst season since 2008.
But Andy Dalton? Yeah, through six games he was right up there, but we’ve seen more of the old Dalton emerge in recent weeks. He’s having a nice year, but it’s not in the MVP range.
Cam Newton’s season is not even close to what you’d expect from an MVP season. It’s more like a classic Steve McNair year, and I don’t even mean 2003. People just wanted to give him the award before the year started because he lost Kelvin Benjamin, yet for the fifth season now, we’ve seen that Newton essentially posts the same statistics every year regardless of what’s around him. And they are just solid, not spectacular numbers even if you adjust for shortcomings around him (while also adjusting for his own problems with overthrows and inaccurate passes). Defense is what drives the W-L record in Carolina, and it always has in the Newton era. Newton has played better since the Green Bay game, but if we prorate his numbers to a 16-game season, this would have to be one of the worst seasons ever for a MVP winner. And it’s coming against a Charmin-soft schedule that might help this team get to 16-0.
I saw another link from a top site that asked if Adrian Peterson can make this a three-horse MVP race. If that wasn’t bad enough, the article excluded other quarterbacks and had the nerve to say “Brady’s putting up better numbers with worse players.”
That statement is vomit inducing to say the least.
For all but two plays and two drives, Brady has had Rob Gronkowski, the best TE in football, all season long.
Dion Lewis was having an incredible season in terms of forcing missed tackles. He was the third-most targeted receiver on this team, and he’s missed four full games and most of a fifth. He wasn’t knocked out for the season until Week 9.
Julian Edelman is one of the best YAC receivers in the game. He has missed two full games and a large chunk of the Giants game.
Danny Amendola is about the closest thing you can have to an Edelman replacement. He missed some of the Buffalo game and one full game (Denver last week).
Most of Brady’s 2015 stats were compiled with these players on the field. If we look at since Week 9 when the slew of injuries (one every week) started, Brady’s numbers have clearly dropped to a non-MVP level.
- Brady Weeks 1-8: 68.9% complete, 20 TD, 1 INT, 8.34 YPA, 115.8 PR
- Brady Weeks 9-12: 58.6% complete, 8 TD, 3 INT, 7.35 YPA, 90.3 PR
Gee, it’s almost like the value-added parts of the team have been hurt in the last month. And you expect this to happen to any QB when they lose so much in a short period of time. But please stop pretending he’s put up his numbers with scrubs or that he’s still putting up MVP numbers. In this span he also should have thrown a game-ending interception against the Giants on a terrible pass, but Landon Collins dropped the ball.
In any other season, the quarterback on the No. 1 scoring offense with a 9-2 record with dazzling stats would be right at the top of the MVP discussion, yet that is not happening for some reason with Carson Palmer this year in Arizona.
He’s averaging 8.8 YPA, which is phenomenal at this volume.
Palmer’s average pass is thrown 11.0 yards beyond the line of scrimmage — highest in the NFL — and he is still completing 63.6% of his passes. Tom Brady’s average pass is 7.7 yards. Newton’s is high too at 10.5, but he’s completing 57.1% of his passes.
ESPN’s QBR has had strong correlation with MVP winners. Palmer’s 82.1 QBR is well ahead of No. 2 Dalton (73.1), and much higher than Brady (67.5) and Newton (58.5). Newton ranks 20th on the season. Palmer’s season has been more consistent than any of them.
Palmer had the big prime-time performances in back-to-back weeks against the Seahawks and Bengals, leading a GWD in each game. He’s led a GWD in three consecutive games.
Palmer slipped up late against the Rams and in Pittsburgh, but he still threw for over 300 yards in both games (over 400 in Pittsburgh) and had the team in position late. He would have liked a dropped pick in Pittsburgh.
Let’s not act like Palmer has a loaded cast here either. Never mind that his defense isn’t as strong as NE or CAR, but his offense is basically driven by three wide receivers best suited for intermediate to deep routes. John Brown and Michael Floyd are also weekly fixtures on the injury report. Chris Johnson just went down. They don’t really have much at TE. This is a vertical offense predicated on the QB being accurate down the field, and Palmer has excelled this year. If you’re someone in need of a storyline for the award, having a career year at 35 a year after a torn ACL is pretty damn good.
Guess which offenses rank first and second in average starting field position? That would be the Patriots (31.72) and Panthers (31.40). That’s very valuable to have, and none of it is driven by the QB. Arizona is solid at 7th (29.44), but again, not as favorable as what Brady and Newton have had.
Palmer should be running away with this MVP race so far, yet he’s a footnote at best in mainstream media. Offering him the “Comeback Player of the Year” award is a slap in the face.
Arizona gets Minnesota on Thursday night, and will finish the season with Green Bay and Seattle. If these quarterbacks continue to play the way they have, we’ll find out just how much of a popularity contest this award has become.
2015 Week 13 Predictions
I knew better than to start trusting the Lions, because once you do, they do something like that on Thursday night against Green Bay.
Winners in bold:
- Ravens at Dolphins
- Texans at Bills
- Panthers at Saints
- Jets at Giants
- Bengals at Browns
- Seahawks at Vikings
- Falcons at Buccaneers
- Jaguars at Titans
- 49ers at Bears
- Cardinals at Rams
- Broncos at Chargers
- Chiefs at Raiders
- Eagles at Patriots
- Colts at Steelers
- Cowboys at Redskins
This feels like a week where Miami fired someone and will remember how to play good football for at least one game.
Luke McCown almost beat the Panthers in Carolina this year, so it’s good to have Drew Brees back, but the Saints are just playing lousy football right now. Panthers should win.
I like the Giants mainly because Darrelle Revis is out. Beckham in DFS, yes.
Browns are only punishing themselves by not starting Johnny Manziel. Austin Davis is not the future.
Really intrigued by Seahawks in Minnesota. Think the lack of passing game and soft running D from the Vikings hurts them in this matchup. Still, hard to trust Seattle in early road game. Should be a close one.
Normally I’d pick the Falcons to bounce back, but Tampa Bay goes against what I think this year. So I went with the opposite of my opposite pick and just stuck with Atlanta.
I expect Denver to run wild on the worst run defense in the league, which Brock Osweiler will somehow get the credit for.
Tom Brady won’t throw five touchdown passes against the Eagles, but the Patriots still might score five offensive touchdowns.
I expect the Cowboys to split the series with Washington down the stretch here, but give me the Redskins at home on Monday night.
Obviously the main game I’m focused on is Colts at Steelers. It was an offensive display last year with Ben Roethlisberger having the game of his career. He has to forget all about that one and just play the way he has this year. He’s piled up the yards in the games he has finished and has his full plethora of wide receivers for this one. I want to see if Matt Hasselbeck can win a shootout. He’s getting a lot of credit for 4-0, but this could be the toughest test yet if he has to score 28+ to win on the road. Yes, Pittsburgh’s defense has given up plenty of 300-yard passing games already, but points have been harder to come by. I think Hasselbeck is the perfect QB to repeatedly take advantage of Pittsburgh’s soft pass defense (big cushions), but you can’t do that the entire game. He’ll have to hit some big throws and the running game is still as unreliable as ever. Should be a fun game, but I like the Steelers at home here in a pretty important game for both teams.
- Week 1: 10-6
- Week 2: 6-10
- Week 3: 14-2
- Week 4: 11-4
- Week 5: 9-5
- Week 6: 8-6
- Week 7: 10-4
- Week 8: 10-4
- Week 9: 8-5
- Week 10: 4-10
- Week 11: 9-5
- Week 12: 8-8
- Season: 107-69 (.608)