There are a number of superstars in the NFL — at all positions — but a few players stand out among the rest. These particular guys have played at a level above their competition, and they’ve also elevated the play of their teammates, giving their team a shot to make the playoffs, and possibly even make a run at the Super Bowl.
In the past, the frontrunners to win the NFL MVP award have all been quarterbacks, but this year is a bit different. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes — the reigning MVP — was forced to miss a few games due to injury, and he’s no longer in contention to repeat this season, which affected some of the odds on safe betting sites for the better. As such, the door is wide open, and a number of players have the opportunity to win the award. Here are the top four candidates in the mix, heading into Week 11 of the NFL season.
1) Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson
Wilson has been in the MVP conversation a number of times over the years, but he’s never won it. This season, however, could be the best chance he has to win it, and he’s making the most of the opportunity. Most recently, Wilson and the Seahawks went into Levi’s Stadium on Monday night and knocked off the previously-undefeated 49ers, in front of a national audience, for all to see. He led his team down the field on a late game-winning drive in the final seconds of overtime, with kicker Jason Myers drilling a field goal to emerge victorious, and flashed his leadership skills throughout the game.
The Seahawks quarterback has been lucky to have played on some great teams in the past, behind some stellar defenses — but not this year. Seattle ranks 24th in total defense, giving up 372.9 yards per game on average. Wilson has been the driving force behind the Seahawks’ 8-2 record, and with Seattle in the mix for the division title and a possible bye in the playoffs, he’s the current favorite to win the award.
2) Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson
Jackson is a similar type of quarterback as Wilson, being a dual-threat signal-caller who can beat defenses with both his arm and his legs — and that’s exactly what he’s been doing. Not only that, he’s on pace to become the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 3,000 passing yards and rush for over 1,000 in the same season, a feat that even Michael Vick himself was not able to pull off.
And, like Wilson, Jackson’s team is cruising in peak form right now as the No. 2 seed in the AFC, with a 7-2 record. Also like Wilson, Jackson handed the other previously undefeated team — the Patriots — a loss in a primetime game, on Sunday Night Football. It’s games like that that voters remember, as Jackson actually outplayed six-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady in the game. Jackson is shattering records and making highlight-reel plays every week, and he’s just behind Wilson in this race.
3) Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey
McCaffrey has essentially saved the Panthers from what would’ve been a nightmare season, and head coach Ron Rivera should be thankful, as his job is on the line. Long-time quarterback Cam Newton was injured in the preseason and was never healthy during the regular season, which is why the team got off to such a poor start. In stepped young quarterback Kyle Allen, with McCaffrey’s usage increasing, and both he and the team have benefited.
McCaffrey has rushed for 989 yards so far this season, as documented by ESPN, and has also racked up another 396 yards receiving. He’s literally carried the Panthers offense on his back, and even with teams focusing solely on him, he’s still beating them. McCaffrey came within inches of upsetting the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field last Sunday, and he’s a gamechanging player that makes his entire team better.
4) Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson
There’s an ongoing theme here, and it’s that all three quarterbacks in the mix for the award are dual-threat signal-callers. The pocket passers of old have been replaced by the new generation of mobile quarterbacks who can throw with different arm angles and beat defenses many different ways. That’s exactly what Watson does, and his numbers are ridiculous. Watson has already thrown for 2,432 yards, completing 70.2 percent of his passes, and tossing 18 touchdowns to only five interceptions. He’s also rushed for 279 yards, with five touchdowns as well.
In the past, Watson has struggled to stay healthy, but this season is the best he’s looked in that regard during his entire NFL career. He’s explosive, decisive in the pocket and is making smart decisions with the football. Not only that, he’s not simply looking to take off and run, so his durability is no longer the major question mark it’s been in the past. He’s a playmaker who makes his team great, and gives them a chance to win every week.