We're through the first 14 weeks of the 2021 NFL season, which means it's once again time for our weekly check-in on the MVP race. We have been and will continue to use this space over the next several weeks to take the temperature of our rotating panel of experts, trying to get a feel for who is in the lead, who is in contention, who is hanging on the fringes, and how those groups are changing from week to week.
Each of our experts was asked to submit their top-five MVP rankings. Five points were awarded for a first-place vote, four for a second-place vote, three for a third-place vote, two for a fourth-place vote, and one for a fifth-place vote.
At the moment, we appear to have a two-man race between two extremely familiar candidates, though our top vote-getter has a larger lead this week than he did a week ago. We also have a running back in the top three (tied for the third spot), as well as three defensive players who received at least one vote.
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Without further ado, let's get to the voting...
The panel of voters: Jonathan Jones, Will Brinson, Ryan Wilson, John Breech, Jared Dubin, Jordan Dajani, Bryan DeArdo, Cody Benjamin, Josh Edwards, Chris Trapasso, Tyler Sullivan, Jeff Kerr
The full MVP leaderboard
5. Rams QB Matthew Stafford (9)*
*New on the list this week
Most first-place votes:
- Tom Brady (10 out of 12)
- Aaron Rodgers, Kyler Murray (1)
Most second-place votes:
- Aaron Rodgers (9)
- Kyler Murray (2)
- Cooper Kupp (1)
Most total ballots:
- Tom Brady (12 out of 12)
- Aaron Rodgers (11)
- Jonathan Taylor (9)
- Kyler Murray (6)
- Justin Herbert (6)
- QB (7)
- WR (1)
- RB (1)
- DE (2)
- LB (1)
So who will actually win?
Brady is both the current leader in our poll (with a widening gap between him and second place) and a heavy betting favorite to win the award. At Caesars Sportsbook, Brady is now -180, while Rodgers is +600. The rest of the top 10 is pretty far behind those two, and consists entirely of quarterbacks with one exception: Mahomes is third at +1000, followed by Murray (+1500), Herbert and Stafford (+1600), Prescott (+2000), Allen (+2500), Taylor (+3000), and Lamar Jackson (+5000). Kupp is the only other non-quarterback who received a vote that is also listed at Caesars, with +20000 odds. Watt, Garrett, and Parsons are all considered part of The Field.
As we've been repeatedly stating, a whole lot can change over the next few weeks. The race at the top of the NFC seems likely to play a huge role in the result of the MVP race. There are still four weeks left in the regular season, and a lot of these players' teams (in each conference) play against each other during that time.
The Packers currently have the No. 1 seed due to controlling the three-way tiebreaker with the Cardinals and Buccaneers. If the Green Bay slips and the Bucs pull ahead, that could solidify Brady's hold on the award. If the Bucs slip, Rodgers could move ahead. There's also potential for movement with Murray, whose team plays against the Cowboys (Prescott) and Colts (Taylor) in the next few weeks. If the Rams come from behind to catch the Cardinals in the division race and make a play for the No. 1 seed, Stafford could see his chances of winning rise as well.
Thursday night's Chiefs vs. Chargers game also figures to make a significant impact here. If the Chargers overtake the Chiefs for the AFC West lead, for example, that would be of enormous help to Herbert's chances in the race. If the Chiefs continue their winning streak and Mahomes finds a way to replicate the results he's had against the Raiders but not other opponents in recent weeks, then perhaps he can break into the top group with Brady and Rodgers.
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