NFL MVP Race: Top Candidates Through Week 9


Nine weeks of the NFL season are officially in the books, which means it’s time to start focusing on the MVP race. We are officially closer to the end of the season than the beginning, and six players have stood out as the absolute best of the best in the first half of the year.

Note that this list included six names due to the uncertainty surrounding Josh Allen’s recent elbow injury. As of this posting, the quarterback is being evaluated for a UCL injury and, if it’s season-ending, he obviously will not win the MVP. In normal circumstances, only five players would make this list.

NFL MVP Race: Top Five Candidates Entering Week 10

1. Jalen Hurts

Do you think the Eagles regret trading Carson Wentz and putting their faith in Jalen Hurts? While Wentz has bounced around the league since that trade, Hurts has steadily developed into one of the best quarterbacks in the league. The Eagles are the last undefeated team in the league, and Hurts is the primary reason for that success. Through nine weeks, the former second-round pick has completed 68.2% of his passes for 2,042 yards, 12 touchdowns, and two interceptions while adding another 326 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. His 0.193 EPA/play is fifth-best in football, and his 85.1 PFF grade makes him the fifth-best quarterback by their metric. As long as the Eagles keep winning, this award is his to lose.

2. Patrick Mahomes

After a relatively up-and-down 2021, Patrick Mahomes is back and better than ever. The former first-round pick is playing some of his best football, and there is a compelling case to be made that Mahomes should be the MVP frontrunner. The quarterback did it all on Sunday Night Football against the Titans, completing 43 of 68 passes for 446, yards, one touchdown, and one interception while adding another 63 yards and a touchdown on the ground. If you take away Mahomes’ output on the ground, Kansas City had 14 rushing yards in that game. He truly is a one-man team and if he went down, Kansas City’s season would effectively be over.

3. Josh Allen

Josh Allen hasn’t played his best football over the past two weeks, and that subpar level of play has caused him to slip in the NFL MVP race. The Bills lost to the Jets in Week 9, in large part thanks to Allen’s two horrible interceptions, and he wasn’t much better in Week 8 against the Green Bay Packers. That being said, his incredible performance through the first seven weeks of the season still justifies a high spot on this list. If his elbow injury isn’t serious, he should remain in the thick of the NFL MVP race down the stretch.

4. Geno Smith

Nobody in the world through the Seattle Seahawks would be leading their division after nine weeks of play. At 6-3, Seattle is the single biggest surprise in the league, and it’s all because of their quarterback. Geno Smith is playing like a man possessed, and if his name was Russell Wilson, he’d have much better MVP odds. So far in the season, Smith has completed a league-leading 72.7% of his passes for 1,924 yards, 13 touchdowns, and three interceptions. His 0.149 EPA/play is seventh-best in the league, and his 87.0 PFF grade is fourth-best in the league. Analysts around the league are afraid that Smith won’t maintain this high level of play, but the longer the season goes on, the more it appears that Smith is the real deal.

5. Tua Tagovailoa

Talk about a third-year breakout. After two up-and-down seasons, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has finally started playing up to his draft capital. Yes, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle definitely help, but there is no denying that the Alabama product has simply lifted his game to another level. Through nine weeks, Tagovailoa has completed 69.9% of his passes for 1,980 yards, 15 touchdowns, and just three interceptions. His 6.9% touchdown percentage leads the league, as does his 89.5 PFF grade and 0.404 EPA/play. Yes, he plays in a great system with unmatched weapons, but you can’t put up numbers like this without a good quarterback calling the shots.

6. Lamar Jackson

A fairly distant sixth on this list, Lamar Jackson has cooled off a bit after his incredible start to the season. However, an inconsistent Lamar Jackson is still one of the better all-around quarterbacks in the league, and definitely earns a spot in the NFL MVP race. Jackson has led the Ravens to a 6-3 record while averaging 0.150 EPA/play despite dealing with significant injuries to his receiving core for the second straight season.