I’ll admit it. I completely avoided the MVP talk surrounding Matthew Stafford last week. The Detroit Lions were just 3-3 and I honestly didn’t believe Detroit could keep masking its enormous deficiencies on defense to make a playoff run this year. If the Lions weren’t going to seriously compete for the postseason, any talk about Stafford’s MVP chances was moot.
But the Lions won again and Stafford led another game-winning drive, the 24th of his career and fourth already this season. At 4-3, the Lions are now in the thick of things and deserve some real attention. Yes, the problems are still there on defense, but Detroit has proven they can win despite these issues.
Of course, it’s important to point out that there is a ton of football to be had. For comparison’s sake, last year’s MVP Cam Newton had a horrible statline through seven weeks. Newton was completing just 54.2 percent of his passes for 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. These were hardly true MVP numbers, but in the last nine games Newton threw 24 touchdowns and two interceptions. There’s over half the season left, and plenty of stars could emerge or fall between now and the end of the regular season.
Let’s talk about this anyway. If the Lions are truly a contender, then Stafford can be in the conversation for the league’s most valuable player through Week 7. But do his stats truly make him the most qualified candidate through seven weeks? Let’s look at some players worthy of MVP consideration.
Stats: 68.0 completion percentage, 7.94 Y/A, 15 TDs, 4 INTs, 105.7 passer rating
Stafford is not only putting up statistics worthy of MVP honors, but he’s also been doing it with no help. The Lions running game is impotent and their defense is one of the worst in the league. Stafford has literally been carrying the team on his back, and it has been no clearer than with all of these last-minute comebacks.
Stats: 67.6 completion percentage, 9.62 Y/A, 16 TDs, 4 INTs, 113.6 passer rating
Ryan’s statistics are very similar in just about every statistical category... except one: Yardage. Ryan has thrown the ball three more times than Stafford, but has thrown for over 400 more yards than the Lions quarterback. However, while Ryan has been Stafford’s statistical superior, he has thrown crucial interceptions in the fourth quarter in back-to-back games. Although he also mounted an amazing game-tying score to lead to overtime this week against the Chargers, his team ultimately lost the game, and his late interception has a lot to do with it.
In the end, it’s hard to take anything from Ryan’s career year right now. But Stafford has been more flashy at the end of games and that tends to turn heads.
Stats: 75.2 completion percentage, 9.94 Y/A, 8 TDs, 0 INTs, 132.6 passer rating
Yes, Brady has only played in three games this season, but if he keeps up this pace, it won’t matter; he’ll win MVP. The Patriots have the league’s best record at 6-1, and although New England managed fine without their quarterback through the first month of the season, they are steamrolling teams with Tom back behind center. His statistics right now are absolutely insane, but the sample size is still small. If he keeps it up, and the Patriots finish with 13, 14 or even 15 wins, it will be hard to ignore Brady.
Stats: 703 rushing yards, 5.1 YPC, 98 receiving yards, 5 total TDs
Elliott seems like a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year honors, but if he keeps up this pace, he could seriously contend for MVP, too. He’s averaging 117.2 rushing yards per game, which puts him on pace for 1874.7 rushing yards for the year. That would be the highest total in the NFL since Adrian Peterson broke 2000 yards in 2012.
With the Cowboys sitting atop the NFC at 5-1 and always basking in the limelight, Elliott already has the attention and hype to gain MVP votes, he just has to keep up this ridiculous pace.
Stafford certainly deserves to be among these candidates and could even arguably have the best resume among them. There are other players, too, that are hanging around like Drew Brees, Dak Prescott and Philip Rivers that could make runs over the next two months. But for right now, things are looking awfully good for Stafford, and if he keeps it up, he’s going to get himself some votes in January.