Going into Week 16, the playoff picture and status of all 32 teams have both become increasingly clear. It is that time of year where conversations about the Most Valuable Player (MVP), Defensive Player of The Year (DPOY), Offensive Player of the Year (OPOY) begin to ramp up. While only one person will win each award, it is important to note that every team has had players perform above expectations. The below names are each AFC team’s MVP this season. All stats and grades are sourced from Pro Football Focus (PFF).
Each AFC Team’s MVP for the 2021 Season
Buffalo Bills, Josh Allen
Josh Allen has transformed the Buffalo Bills into a playoff team and one of the best teams in the AFC. The Bills have not had a squad this good since the 90’s teams that were led by Jim Kelley. Allen is a big strong-armed dual-threat quarterback that keeps defenses guessing. He has a Pro Football Focus grade of 81.9 and ranks fourth in passing touchdowns and sixth in passing yards.
Miami Dolphins, Xavien Howard
While Xavien Howard has not been the ball-hawk he was the last couple of years, he has still managed to record four interceptions thus far through the season. He also recorded two forced fumbles and has been named a Pro-Bowler this year. It was a shaky start for the Miami Dolphins, but Howard and Miami now find themselves on a six-game winning streak and fighting for a playoff spot. Howard has a PFF grade of 68.1.
New England Patriots, J.C. Jackson
J.C. Jackson is one of the best corners in the league but choosing him as the MVP for the New England Patriots was still a tough choice. Mathew Judon has 14 sacks and was named to the Pro Bowl and Mac Jones is having an incredible rookie year. If anything, this is all a testament to Bill Belichick and how he was able to put everyone in the best possible situation to succeed. But J.C. Jackson has 38 solo tackles, seven interceptions, and a forced fumble. He was also voted to the Pro-Bowl and he has a PFF grade of 78.4. He gets the nod as the Patriots MVP.
New York Jets, Elijah Moore
The New York Jets have struggled all season, but one bright spot for their future is rookie wide receiver, Elijah Moore. Moore started the year slow but gained momentum starting around Week 7. This season he has 43 receptions for 538 yards and he is averaging 12.5 per reception. He also has five receiving touchdowns and one rushing touchdown.
Baltimore Ravens, Mark Andrews
The entire Baltimore Ravens squad has been up and down this season as they have been decimated with injuries. Mark Andrews has been the one consistent bright spot on this team. The Pro Bowl tight end ranks first in receptions with 85, second in yards with 1,062, and second in touchdowns with eight among all tight ends. Andrews has a PFF grade of 91.0.
Cincinnati Bengals, Ja’Marr Chase
The arrival of Ja’Marr Chase to the Cincinnati Bengals has transformed the team. Joe Burrow started playing better with a true number one receiver, and opposing defenses are kept on their toes more which has allowed the running game and Joe Mixon to be greatly effective. Chase ranks seventh in receiving yards with 1,038 and third in touchdowns with three. The Pro Bowler is averaging a whopping 17 yards per reception and he has a PFF grade of 76.1.
Cleveland Browns, Miles Garett
The Cleveland Browns have had a rough year that has been plagued by injury and COVID-19. One bright spot has been the consistently great Miles Garett, a front runner for the DPOY award. Garett has 17 sacks and a forced fumble. He has truly been an unstoppable force on defense and he has a PFF grade of 92.1.
Pittsburgh Steelers, T.J. Watt
T.J. Watt is another frontrunner for Defensive Player of the year. He has 18 sacks (first) and four forced fumbles (second). The Pro Bowl pass rusher has easily been the best player on a struggling Pittsburgh Steelers team and has been dominant in every game. Watt has a PFF grade of 87.0.
Houston Texans, Brandin Cooks
The Houston Texans have arguably been one of the worst teams this season with the Deshaun Watson cloud hanging over them all year. But Brandin Cooks has shown that he was worth signing to the team. He ranks 11th in receptions, has five touchdowns on the season and he is averaging 11.8 yards per reception. Cooks has a PFF grade of 75.2.
Indianapolis Colts, Jonathan Taylor
Jonathan Taylor has a case to be this year’s NFL MVP. He has put on a dominant performance in nearly every game and is singlehandedly responsible for all of the Indianapolis Colts wins. Taylor is first in carries (270), first in rush yards (1,518), first in rush touchdowns (17), and third in yards per carry (5.6). Taylor has a PFF grade of 90.0.
Jacksonville Jaguars, Josh Allen
The Jacksonville Jaguars have had it rough this season, and the firing of their coach seemed inevitable, yet Josh Allen has performed quite admirably for them. He ranks second in the league in solo tackles with 41 and has six sacks on the season. He had a dominant performance against the Bills and the other Josh Allen that led the Jaguars to their best win of the season. Allen has a PFF grade of 80.6.
Tennessee Titans, Derrick Henry
Yes, it is true Derrick Henry has not played since Week 8, yet he still ranks fifth in rushing yards (937), sixth in carries (219), and fourth in rushing touchdowns (10). Henry was on pace to have one of the most dominant running back seasons ever. With talks of him possibly returning for the playoffs, Henry could continue to show why he is the Titans MVP. Henry has a PFF rating of 75.3.
Denver Broncos, Justin Simmons
The bright spot of the Denver Broncos has been the defense all year, and Justin Simmons is a huge reason why. Simmons is playing like one of the best safeties in the NFL. He ranks first in interceptions among safeties with five and he has 53 solo tackles. He has a PFF grade of 77.3.
Kansas City Chiefs, Travis Kelce
Teams challenged the Kansas City Chiefs this year by taking away the deep ball. Travis Kelce came to the rescue by catching passes short and running them deep. Among tight ends, Kelce ranks first in targets (119), second in receptions (83), first in receiving yards (1,066), and fourth in touchdowns (seven). He has a PFF grade of 82.4.
Las Vegas Raiders, Derek Carr
Derek Carr has been one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the NFL for years now. This year he has dealt with adversity like no other quarterback has, yet he still has been putting up great numbers and has helped his team get some quality wins. Carr ranks second in pass yards in the NFL with 4,162 and he has 19 passing touchdowns to 11 interceptions. Carr has a PFF grade of 78.9.
Los Angeles Chargers, Justin Herbert
Justin Herbert has been a godsend for the Los Angeles Chargers since he was drafted. The Pro Bowler ranks fourth in pass yards with 4,058, third in touchdowns with 32 and he has thrown only 12 interceptions. Herbert has turned the Chargers into a winning organization and has helped them be competitive in the very tough AFC West. Herbert has a PFF grade of 89.2.