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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

MVP Watch Week 8: Manning is Still the King

My MVP Rankings are not solely who should get the MVP if the season ended today. It takes in risk factors such as potential injuries, degree of difficult schedule, etc. These rankings are essentially my expectations for where the MVP voting will be at the end of the year. Please enjoy!

In a year where a running back is the current clear favorite for the award, you might say that a quarterback has little chance to steal the MVP from a guy that is on pace to shatter records. Highlight those words “on pace”. Demarco Murray is not going to stay upright with the number of carries he is getting. It just can’t happen.

The most carries by a running back in any season of the NFL is 416 by Larry Johnson in 2006. He added 41 receptions that year. Sick stats giving him nearly 2200 total yards and 19 scores! Only five times have running backs reached 400 carries in a year.

Murray is currently on pace for 478 total touches for 2450 yards and 16 scores (and nine lost fumbles). He would have a cake-walk to the MVP. But Murray’s health has always been an issue. In 2013 he missed two games and had two others with seven carries or less during an injured stretch. In 2011 he missed six games because of injury. So it is not a matter of IF, but WHEN, Demarco Murray gets hurt.

With that said, the league will turn its attention to a QB. Right now the list of potential QBs that could take the MVP should include Manning, Luck, Rivers, and Rodgers.

Each of this QBs lead teams currently 5-2 or better. Each has thrown at least 17 TDs. But there are certain stats that set each one apart.

Andrew Luck leads the league with 2331 yards through seven games. He is the only QB with a winning record currently on pace for 5,000 or more passing yards (5328 to be exact). His 21 TDs, including two rushing, is also first in the league. These are strong points. But he has many weaknesses too. He has needed 302 pass attempts to get to that total, and is completing under 66% of his passes, lowest among these four QBs. He also has seven interceptions on the year and a lost fumble.

Philip Rivers has looked very good this year. He has only three turnovers to go with 1961 passing yards and 17 scores. His 67.4% completion rate is 2nd to Manning of the four. His yards per attempt at 8.53 is the best of the four. But he has also had the luxury of playing only two teams that rank better than 15th in passing yards allowed including the Cardinals and Jaguars who rank 30th and 31st. Playing against a stronger defense like the Chiefs he finished with just over 200 yards, 2 scores, and an interception. Let’s see how the rest of his season plays out.

Peyton Manning is certainly the most well known QB in the game and he is definitely making a case for another MVP. He is averaging 308 passing yards per game and is on pace for 51 touchdowns! His 68.7% completion rate is the highest of the four as is his 118.2 QB rating. With that said, Denver still had 6 games against top 14 pass defenses including three games against top four teams. If Denver is able to win their games against the Chargers (week 8), Patriots (week 9), and chargers (week 15), I expect Manning will not even play in weeks 16 and 17 as Denver will have the top seed locked up. This will hurt Manning’s stats on the year.

Finally for all of those who are ready to R-E-L-A-X, enter Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers isn’t top 10 in passing yards in the league despite not having his bye yet. In fact he is 21st in passing yards per game behind the likes of Austin Davis, Mike Glennon, and Bryan Hoyer! But what sets Rodgers apart is his perfection. He doesn’t have the yards because he doesn’t need to. Rodgers comes out so hot that he doesn’t even finish games. Twice this season he has sat out the entire fourth quarter of games and had limited pass attempts in the second half at all.

Rodgers has 18 touchdowns, but only one interception. He has nearly 200 pass attempts since throwing that sole INT. His QB rating is just behind Mannings at 117.3. And thanks to a much stronger conference, Rodgers will be playing til the final minute in week 17. In Rodgers first three outings he had only five scores. Since then he has 13 TDs in only four games. If he keeps up the pace set over the last four games, he would finish the season with 47 scores and one pick. Surely he will have a bad game and throw a pick or two, but his pace is amazing. If he leads the Packers to a 13-3 record with 45 scores and fewer than five picks, watch out.

With that all said, here are my current MVP rankings:

5. Luck

4. Rivers

3. Murray (even with injury)

2. Rodgers

1. Manning


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