Matthew Stafford an NFL’s Most Valuable Player candidate?
To Lions fans, the answer is pretty easy. Yes. When put up against the top players so far this season, Stafford has shown on the field and on the stat line that he can hang. Despite having a bottom five defense in the NFL, and the worst running game in the NFL (currently starting a 4th stringer and a FA signee from 2 days ago) defenses know the pass is coming and still Stafford finds ways to get this offense going.
Outside of Detroit, the MVP candidates aren’t what many expected going into to the 2016 season. As we dive into the top candidates, it’s worth comparing Stafford to see if there is a spot for our gunslinger among the elite, or if we are all drinking the kool-aid.
1. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons (4-2)
Oct 16, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) passes against the Seattle Seahawks during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Stat Line: 68.1% 2,075 yards 15 TD 3 INT 117.9 QB Rating
Sporting a 4-2 record after Sunday’s 26-24 loss in Seattle, Matty Ice stands at 2,075 yards 15 TD 3 INT and a 68.1 completion percentage. Earlier this week, Seattle Linebacker K.J. Wright stated this offense is better than the 2013 Broncos, and I think that may be true. Despite today’s loss to Seattle, this Falcons offense looks close to unstoppable and it starts at the quarterback position. Ryan and Julio have challenged teams vertically and allowed this offense to flourish. I have Ryan as the clear leader in the MVP race.
2. Ezekiel Elliot, HB, Dallas Cowboys (5-1)
Stat Line: 109 att 703 yards 5 TD 5.1 YPC 2 Fumbles
Only 2 of the last 10 NFL MVPs have been running backs. LT in 2006 and Adrian Peterson in 2012. It is no surprise to see Elliot thriving behind the Dallas O-Line, but Zeke is on his way to the best rookie season since Eric Dickerson in 1983. Having a running back playing at an elite level takes the load off QB Dak Prescott and is a key component to this Dallas team is 5-1.
3. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots (5-1)
Stat Line: 76% 782 Yards 6 TD 0 INT 135.5 QB Rating
Tom Brady guys. Like, Tom Brady on possibly the best Patriots team since last time they were dominant. The 2015 Patriots, just healthier and with more elite talent. Think Tom could win over Hillary and Donald for president? It may be close, but it’s been two weeks and Brady already owns Ohio.
4. Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions (3-3)
Oct 16, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) calls a play during the second quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Stat Line: 68.9% 1,648 yards 14 TD 4 INT 106 QB Rating
With the departure of Calvin Johnson, many doubted Stafford heading into 2016 questioning his ability to produce without an elite wide receiver to rely on. Stafford went full Hydra here as from the death of one elite talent, rose two elite talents that have given NFL defenses nightmares in the early part of 2016. In true Detroit Lions fashion, all the forces have tried their best to hold back the potential with major injuries to all sides of the ball, the league’s worst rushing offense, and the leagues worst defense in general. The Lions have not only allowed the highest completion percentage (73.7%) to opposing quarterbacks but they also have allowed 4.7 yards per carry, placing them firmly in the bottom six of the NFL. Despite this, Stafford has improved as a decision maker, signal caller, and leader and is on his way to an MVP campaign that will most likely require a playoff victory to secure.
5. Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers (2-3)
Oct 13, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) passes before the game against the Denver Broncos at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Stat Line: 67.2% 1,647 Yards 12 TD 3 INT 105.9 QB Rating
For the second straight season, Philip is without top target Keenan Allen. To make matters worse, Danny Woodhead, who accounted for 80 receptions in 2015, is also out for the year. So what does Mr. Rivers do in their absence? He still produces. Finding success in their depth has been key as the emergence of backup tight end Hunter Henry and wide receiver Tyrell Williams has allowed this offense to flourish. Rivers is and always has been, the guy who produces elite numbers with no recognition, but if this team squeezes out a playoff appearance, give this man the damn trophy.
6.Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders (4-2)
Oct 16, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) celebrates after a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Stat Line: 66.5% 1,608 yards 12 TD 3 INT 99.1 QB Rating
The Raiders now sit tied on top the AFC West despite piss poor defensive play. This is largely in part to the emergence of 3rd-year quarterback Derek Carr. While many saw Oakland as a run-first offense, Carr has taken over and hasn’t looked back. Targets Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree look as about as clutch as a receiver can get as the young gunslinger is thriving under the gamble heavy Jack Del Rio offense. No wonder this team is on its way to Vegas. If Carr wants MVP, they need to take over this division. If they show up big against Denver’s defense, I think the young man has himself a case for it.
7. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints (2-3)
Oct 16, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) gestures after being hit in the mouth in the fourth quarter of their game against the Carolina Panthers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints won 41-38. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Stat Line: 66.7% 1,734 yards 14 TD 4 INT 103.1 QB Rating
If this team wants to win any games, then Drew has to drop 40. Big performances from the tight end position helped seal the deal against a 1-5 Carolina team, but Drew needs to pull a few more out before he secures MVP. With Delvin Breaux and rookie DT Sheldon Rankins on the verge of returning, this team gets better and possibly shows its true potential. Until then, expect Drew to defy age regression and continue to light it up.