However, there are currently 3 candidates that stand out right now, with one that we think is in the lead. Keep reading to see who the favorites are along with who we see taking the Coach of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards.
2016 MVP Candidates – A Familiar Face Leading the Pack
Right now, we see only five players with serious consideration for the 2016 MVP award. They include: Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady, and New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees.
Of these candidates, we only see Brady, Elliott, and Ryan with realistic chances to win. Here’s how the race is shaping up on the eve of Week 13:
1. Tom Brady – No, this isn’t original because Brady has already won the award twice (2007, ’10). But right now, we see him in the lead because: 1) he has good numbers, and 2) the Patriots are tied for the AFC’s best record (9-2). His 116.7 passer rating leads the league and would rank as the fifth-best all time. The biggest hurdle to overcome for Brady will be the four-game Deflategate suspension that he served; no MVP has ever been suspended for four games. He’ll also be missing Rob Gronkowski for the rest of the year.
2. Ezekiel Elliott – Elliott is also facing a stigma because no rookie has won the MVP since 1957 — the first year for the award. Another factor working against Elliott is that he’s 1) not a running back who’s going to set a single-season TD record, or 2) one who rushes for 2,000 yards — both qualifying points for any RB who’s won MVP in the last two decades. What Elliott does have, though, is the league lead in rushing yards (1,283) and most rushing TDs (12) on the NFL’s best team. If a Cowboy wins the MVP, it will be Elliott.
3. Matt Ryan – Ryan is an even bigger surprise candidate than Elliott, given that he had a subpar 2015 season. But he’s back on top this year with 26 TDs and only 6 INTs, creating a 114.3 rating. More importantly, the Falcons are flying high again with a 7-4 record and the division lead. Ryan needs his team to win the division and keep putting up lofty stats to earn MVP honors.
4. Drew Brees – Here’s where the real separation begins, not because Brees isn’t playing great, but because New Orleans is only 5-6. If we based the award on stats, then Brees should win with his league-leading 3,587 passing yards and 30 touchdowns. But the team also needs to win, meaning New Orleans must start piling victories up for the 37 year old to win.
5. Derek Carr – Picked in the second round, Carr was never a lock to be great, especially with the way his brother David’s career went. But Derek is succeeding where his brother failed with 3,270 passing yards, 21 TDs, and 12 INTs — all in just his third season. More importantly, Carr’s team is 9-2 and currently holding the AFC’s top spot. The main problem with Carr’s bid for MVP, though, is that he’s still not Brady or Brees.
Other 2016 NFL Awards
Coach of the Year – The Patriots Bill Belichick is in the running for his fourth-career COY award. But we think that Dallas’ Jason Garrett is the favorite due to his team’s massive success. Oakland’s Jack Del Rio is the only other coach in the running right now.
Defensive Player of the Year – Giants safety Landon Collins is heading a revived New York defensive effort with 5 interceptions and 87 tackles. But if the Denver Broncos make the playoffs, we like linebacker Von Miller to win since he leads the league with 12.5 sacks and won Super Bowl MVP last season.
Offensive Rookie of the Year – If Elliott doesn’t win MVP, you can guarantee that he’ll be scooping the offensive rookie of the year award. Teammate and Dallas QB Dak Prescott could get ROY if his running back earns MVP. Nobody is close after these two.
Defensive Rookie of the Year – Atlanta Falcons safety Keanu Neal is one reason why Atlanta’s defense is playing much better this season. He’s racked up 72 tackles and 5 forced fumbles with five games left to go. His teammate, linebacker Deion Jones, is also in the conversation with 69 tackles and 2 forced fumbles. The only non-Falcons candidate is San Diego Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa, who has 4.5 sacks in just 7 games.