Why Ryan leads a tight pack for this year’s MVP award

Jay Asser 07:20 29/12/2016
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There might not be a slamdunk, unanimous MVP from this NFL season, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a deserving one.

Week 17 still remains to pad resumes, but with the candidates not on equal footing in terms of playing time and stakes, much isn’t going to change.

Conceivably, you could easily make the argument for at least six names: Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Ezekiel Elliott, David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell, in no particular order.

That’s three quarterbacks and three running backs – all of whom have a case. Rodgers leads the league in touchdown passes with 36 and has been magnificent from Week 13 onwards to right what was a sinking Green Bay ship.

Elliott is having one of the best rookie seasons of not just any running back, but any offensive skill player. He’ll easily win the rushing title and has been a touchdown monster for the NFC’s top team.

David Johnson is the only one of the six players mentioned to not be on a team either already in the playoffs or on the verge, but he’s carried Arizona’s attack all year as a total yardage beast, and like Elliott, has been a regular end-zone visitor.

Bell, similarly, has horded touches and yards as both a runner and receiver for Pittsburgh and just by virtue of his range of skills, might be the best player in the NFL.

That said, all four have their warts: Rodgers struggled for parts of the year, Elliott’s numbers could be attributed more to his dominant offensive line, Johnson isn’t on a winning team and Bell missed three games to suspension at the start.

Not to mention, quarterbacks usually win the award for a reason – the position is just invariably more important.

So it should come down to Ryan and Brady, with the Atlanta quarterback edging the two-time MVPwinning veteran.

But rather than discounting Brady for not playing the full season or for being suspended as a result of ‘Deflategate’, voters should lean in Ryan’s direction for the statistically-superior year he’s amassed.

Ryan is either at the top or near the top in practically every noteworthy passing category, which is why he has a league-best 115.5 passer rating.

Aside from Nick Foles’ fluky 2013 in which he had a 119.2 rating (in only nine starts), no quarterback with as high of a rating or better hasn’t earned MVP.

Then there’s Ryan’s bloated 9.26 yards per attempt average, which is sixth-best in the Super Bowl era and the highest since Kurt Warner had 9.9 in 2000.

On top of that, Ryan’s been needed to be this great much more than Brady has, with the Falcons’ defence ranking 23rd in average yards allowed and 25th in points per game, while New England ranks eighth and first, respectively.

It’s a close call, but Ryan warrants his first MVP.

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