Ryan, who was also named 2016 Offensive Player of the Year at the ceremony, was considered a heavy favorite to win the award after netting first-team All-Pro honors earlier this postseason, but many people believed Patriots quarterback Tom Brady might manage to snake the award.
Here's how the voting shook out:
AP NFL MVP Award:— Dennis Waszak Jr. (@DWAZ73) February 5, 2017
MATT RYAN, Atl 25
Tom Brady, NE 10
Ezekiel Elliott, Dal 6
Derek Carr, Oak 6
Aaron Rodgers, GB 2
Dak Prescott, Dal 1#NFL
The Falcons finished as the No. 2 seed in the NFC behind Ryan's incredible performance -- Ryan completed 69.9 percent of his passes on the year and threw for 4,944 yards and 38 touchdowns. He threw just seven interceptions and averaged a ridiculous 9.2 yards per passing attempt.
Ryan is one of just four players in NFL history -- along with Dan Marino in 1984, Peyton Manning in 2004 and Aaron Rodgers in 2011 -- to throw for 4,500 yards and average more than nine yards per attempt. He also completed a touchdown pass to an absurd number of receivers, throwing scores to 13 different players.
Brady's case was compelling as well. After being suspended the first four games of the season, the Patriots quarterback returned with a vengeance, playing some of his best football at the age of 39. He completed 67.4 percent of his passes and threw for 3,554 yards and 28 touchdowns.
Brady only threw two interceptions on the season, giving him the best touchdown-to-interception ratio in NFL history (and mercifully removing Nick Foles from the record book). Brady's interception percentage on the season was 0.5 percent. Zero point five! The Patriots would lose just one game while Brady was starting and finished the season 14-2, cruising to the AFC East again and securing the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
The Patriots certainly don't need more fuel to the fire when it comes to the Super Bowl LI on Sunday. But the facts are that Brady was suspended by the NFL and then theoretically snubbed by voters who decided to choose Ryan for the award. Brady and Bill Belichick are unafraid to use anything as additional motivation, and you can be sure they will know that Ryan won and subsequently that Brady didn't get the respect he deserved from voters.
But Ryan is absolutely deserving, as I wrote several weeks ago. He had an incredible season and, while he perhaps played with better weapons (hello, Julio Jones), won almost as many games as Brady without the No. 1 scoring defense in the league.
Ryan elevated his play to an entirely new level during the 2016 NFL season and he was a deserving recipient. If Ryan and the Falcons can pull of the Super Bowl win, he'll be critical to their success. And if he wins the Super Bowl MVP, he'll become just the seventh player in NFL history to pick up both awards.