The NFL MVP award is the greatest award a player in pro football can receive. It signifies more than just value to one’s team — such as greatness, progression, clutch, and game-changing ability. All those characteristics are once again present in the candidates in 2019.
As of now, the 2019 NFL MVP race is already special. There are a number of competitors playing at incredibly high levels but perhaps no one more than quarterbacks Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens and Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks. The two have been electrifying through 10 weeks of regular-season action and neither looks to be slowing down. The majority of NFL analysts are already discussing who has the edge in the MVP conversation and there are still seven weeks left to play on the NFL calendar.
There have been some special MVP races throughout NFL history but perhaps none in the past decade that will be as enticing down the stretch as the 2019 race looks to be. This could be the 1998 MLB home run chase of football — it’s been that exciting. The only contest that has come close in recent memory is when Adrian Peterson, coming off both a torn ACL and MCL, fell just eight yards short of the single-season rushing record to beat out Peyton Manning for the award in 2012.
No matter who wins the 2019 NFL MVP award, the two competitors are currently must-watch TV and should be exchanging blow until Week 17.
The 2019 NFL MVP Race Is Going to Be Special
The Week 10 Show
When people talk about the moments that make an MVP, there are usually a select number of instances that come to mind. Both of the front-runners had two of those plays this past weekend.
If you discount the horrible should’ve-been walk-off field goal miss, there are only three plays that people are going to remember from this past week of football. Fellow MVP candidate Christian McCaffrey coming up inches short of the goal line in the snow at Lambeau Field on the last play of the game, Wilson’s scramble for 18 yards to set up the game-winning field in overtime, and Jackson’s Madden-like spin move and touchdown run.
While both quarterbacks played teams with very opposite records, one being winless and the other being undefeated, both players did exactly what you would expect from them. Jackson dominated from start to finish of his game against the 0-8 Cincinnati Bengals with the Ravens scoring touchdowns on each of Jackson’s five offensive possessions in the game. He would be benched after a Patrick Ricard forced fumble and touchdown put Baltimore up 39 points near the end of the third quarter.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 11, 2019
Wilson had a much tougher task but erased a 10-point first-quarter deficit and led the Seahawks down the field multiple times. This gave his team multiple opportunities for game-winning field goals. A couple of MVP-like moments later, Wilson had taken down the last remaining undefeated team, all while down his best receiver for almost the entire night.
Week 10 may have been the first real instance, outside of when they played, where it looked like both quarterbacks were dueling for who could have the most impressive performance of the weekend. Expect to see plenty more acts of brilliance from both players as the playoff push begins.
Real Valuable Numbers
Beyond both quarterbacks taking down the last remaining undefeated teams in their respective conferences, each of their teams is just one win out of first place and home-field advantage throughout the NFL playoffs. This has largely been in part to both putting up very impressive statistical seasons.
Jackson is not like other quarterbacks and thus is on pace to do something that has never been done in NFL history. Only one quarterback, Michael Vick, has ever ran for over 1,000 yards in a single season. Jackson in 2019 is not only on pace to become the second quarterback to complete the feat but smash his all-time record by almost 200 yards. On top, he is on pace to become the first quarterback ever to rush for 1,000 yards and throw for over 3,000. Jackson is doing things on the ground and through the air that have never been done at the same time. His performance Week 10 made him just the second quarterback in NFL history to have a perfect passer rating in multiple games.
Lamar Jackson has now started 16 games. In a full regular season's worth of work, here are his stats:
3,150 passing yards, 20 TDs, 8 INTs; 1,258 rushing yards, 10 rushing TDs
Michael Vick didn't throw for 3,000 yards till his eighth season. Career-high 1,039 rushing in Year 6.
— Ryan Mink (@ryanmink) November 12, 2019
Wilson’s numbers may be less groundbreaking than Jacksons from a historical standpoint, but he has been by far the better passer and perhaps the best so far in 2019. He is leading the NFL in passing touchdowns, passer rating, third in first downs and second in completion percentage above expectation. Wilson is also on pace to register the seventh-highest passer rating of all time and finish the year with an estimated 37:3 touchdown to interception. That ratio would be the best of any player in the top-10 of all-time passer rating.
Russell Wilson’s weapons in OT:
– A seventh-round running back who can’t stop fumbling
– A rookie wideout who was basically a meme
– A WR virtually the entire league passed up on waivers
– Malik Turner?
– A TE who was on the practice squad in September
— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) November 12, 2019
Both Jackson and Wilson have already been awarded multiple Offensive Players of the Week in their respective conferences.
Houdini vs the Magician
It’s sometimes hard to realize when you’re in the midst of something great. When watching something live and exciting, the immediate reaction is about what is going on in the moment as opposed to what it will mean in 10 years.
Over the years, Wilson has built a reputation for being a player that seems to make his most impressive plays from positions in which they don’t seem possible. Such as when Wilson escaped a collapsing pocket on the run that set up the game’s winning field goal. This was just one of the multiple times on the night he made something out of nothing. Jackson had his own signature moment and was met with the claim of “He is Houdini!” by play by play announcer Kevin Harlan. The magical run was eye-popping but could be even more iconic down the road.
Jackson’s head coach John Harbaugh was obviously a big fan saying “You changed the game, man” to Jackson on the bench. Wilson has been known as a trailblazer himself; most recently as the prototype that allowed Kyler Murray to be selected first overall in this past year’s NFL draft.
As their nicknames display, both players do things that you just don’t see from the conventional quarterbacks. Perhaps even just as relevant today as it was when they were given opportunities to start, is how both were also highly doubted. Wilson was said to be too short to be a starting quarterback in the pros, while some league executives thought Jackson’s best hope at a successful NFL career was switching positions. That drive to be great despite the circumstance is what makes both these players so special.
Who Has the Edge?
The current consensus between pundits appears to Wilson — which makes sense. He is a far more accomplished player and is impressing in a more quarterback normative way. The majority of the media is also far more familiar with him, having seen him win a Super Bowl and reach a second in the past decade. Wilson is playing with a below-average offensive line and the inferior defense between the two quarterbacks teams. That may not matter to Wilson but it is likely a big advantage in the eyes of an MVP voter.
The player to end up on top will almost undoubtedly be a worthy winner. The two have already played in 2019, with the Ravens taking the contest 30-16 away at Century Link Field. Though they couldn’t face again unless the two met in the Super Bowl, the race for 2019 NFL MVP is going to perhaps the most exciting to watch on a week-by-week basis in the last decade.
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