Thursday, November 27, 2014

Will Aaron Rodgers Win the 2014 NFL MVP Award?

There are a lot of factors that go into determining the MVP of the National Football League.  Yards, touchdowns, ratings, wins, and sometimes even popularity figure in to the award.  And while the MVP title is rather pointless in such a team sport as football, it does still carry a lot of merit and often helps label who the most impressive player has been in the league.  And while we still have a ways to go before anointing a true NFL MVP, my early vote (as well as my long term assumption) is for Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers to claim the award.

Rodgers has long been among the elite players and quarterbacks in professional football, and has already won the award in 2011.  That season he threw 45 touchdown passes and led the Packers to a 14-1 record before sitting out the finale.  This year he is playing at that same level.

His current QB rating of 119.3 is tops in the NFL, and so is his yards per attempt statistic at 8.65.  That value is often a reflection of just how potent a passer is.  His 30 touchdown passes are second in the league behind Peyton Manning.  The only areas of concern would be his 7th ranked completion percentage and total yards ranking.  Some would argue that makes him the 7th best quarterback in the NFL, hardly worthy of the MVP.

But such insight is terribly misguided.  Rodgers ranks just 16th in the league in passing attempts!  Again looking at his remarkable touchdown and yards/attempt figures paints the more accurate picture.  He is doing more with fewer throws.  In fact, his 342 pass attempts is exactly 100 fewer than Manning.  The reason for this anomaly has been that the Packers have been winning a lot of their games early, and with blowouts.  Against the Carolina PanthersMinnesota Vikings (first game), Chicago Bears, and Philadelphia Eagles, Rodgers tore apart defenses and had the win wrapped up by halftime.  By the 3rd quarter he’d largely be handing the ball off to Eddie Lacy and by the 4th quarter backup Matt Flynn would be in.  His incredible play has actually put the Packers so far ahead that Rodgers hardly has to play.

Additionally, in tighter games Aaron Rodgers has been exceptional as well.  His memorable drive to win late in the game against the Miami Dolphins was exactly the type of stuff that MVP’s produce.  There is really no stopping this guy.  And while he has benefitted from an improved run game and a stronger defense in recent weeks, it just goes to show how strong a player Rodgers is when his team is clicking.

Lastly, I feel that the statistic that ends all the MVP discussion is his 3 interceptions.  This is by far the lowest of any starting QB and is the main reason his rating is so high.  To get a clear picture of the significance of this mark, Tom Brady has 6 and Peyton Manning has 9.  The only player who manages games close to Rodgers’ level is Alex Smith, who has just 4 interceptions.  But while that number is very solid, his 13 TD’s pale in comparison to the 30 thrown by Rodgers.

And so if the season ended today, I would fully expect the MVP to be awarded to Aaron Rodgers.  And based on how he and the Packers typically finish seasons, I would anticipate those great numbers to continue.  The only player who really has a good shot of beating him would be DeMarco Murray of the Dallas Cowboys, a running back.  But this is where the name factor comes into play and would largely lean in Rodgers’ favor.  It’s also worth noting that 6 of the last 7 MVP awards have been handed to quarterbacks.  But if Murray breaks 2,000 rushing yards he may take the award.  However, I think that Rodgers’ season has been more impressive and is likely to capture the 2014 NFL MVP!

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