It took a month, but we finally have a new frontrunner for MVP.  After a Week 6 come-from-behind win over the Browns, during which he was required to call his own plays after the Seahawks' headsets went dark (something he might want to do more often), Russell Wilson overtook both Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson on our unofficial MVP ballot here at CBS Sports. 

Even though Lamar Jackson went into Seattle the following week and trounced Wilson's Seahawks by 14 points, he was unable to make up the deficit on the MVP leaderboard. Last week, even after Jackson took down the previously unbeaten Patriots, he failed to dent Wilson's lead. At that point, heading into this past weekend when Wilson was on his bye and Jackson had a chance to knock another challenger, Deshaun Watson, down a few steps, it certainly felt like Jackson needed Wilson to suffer a setback in order to actually overtake him.

We were wrong. It finally happened. Jackson actually usurped Wilson. And Wilson didn't even screw up. He was sitting at home on his bye week doing whatever it is that Wilson does in his free time -- Consuming nanobubblesGoogling romantic compliments he can give to Ciara? Getting his robot diagnostics fine-tuned? Who the heck knows? -- and he still managed to lose his lead. 

Will Brinson is joined by Brady Quinn and Ryan Wilson to discuss the MVP race. Listen below and be sure to subscribe here for daily NFL goodness fired into your eardrums.

After 11 weeks, Jackson is our choice for MVP here at CBS Sports -- and not just because Mark Ingram said so.

That's how dominant Jackson was in yet another win over an MVP candidate. A month after taking down Wilson, Jackson and the Ravens took down Watson in a 41-7 win. While the Ravens' defense deserves the credit for stymieing Watson, who's been very much involved in the MVP conversation for the entire season and remains in the peripheries of the race, it's Jackson who completed 70.8 percent of his passes for 222 yards (9.3 YPA), four touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 139.2 passer rating in addition to rushing for 86 yards on nine attempts.

He did it with his arm -- note the ball placement and, of course, that pocket. 

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And he did it with his legs.

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In other words, it was the exact kind of performance we've come to expect from Jackson. This is just what he's been doing all season long. Jackson is the engine behind the league's best offense by a wide margin. As a result, the Ravens are averaging an NFL-high 34.1 points per game. The next closest team -- the 49ers -- are averaging nearly five fewer points per game. They can run the ball -- no team has run the ball more frequently (35.8 attempts per game) or averages more yards per carry (5.7). And they can throw on you too -- they're averaging 8.0 yards per pass attempt, which ranks seventh.

But the race is hardly over. Unlike last year's race, which Patrick Mahomes ran away with after Thanksgiving, this feels like a race that'll come down to Week 16 or 17. Wilson is still very much alive. Crucially, he has two more games in primetime -- which, fair or not, does affect the MVP conversation because nothing impacts perception more than nationally televised games. Jackson also has two more nationally televised games and he also gets to face the 49ers. If Jackson takes down the 49ers' defense after dismantling the Patriots, it's going to be tough to argue against his MVP candidacy.

Again, it's close. Now that the two frontrunners have played in the same number of games, here's how their statlines compare:

Total Yards

Total TDs

INTs + Fumbles







78.0 (1st)






77.8 (3rd)


Welcome to our Week 12 MVP race check in, where five NFL writers here at CBS Sports -- Will Brinson, Jared Dubin, John Breech, Ryan Wilson, and Sean Wagner-McGough (hi, that's me) -- submitted their individual MVP ballots, which were then used to form one collective ballot. 

Jackson is our new leader. Wilson isn't trailing by much. And the only player that appears to have a shot at catching Jackson and Wilson is Dak Prescott.

Below, you'll find our collective MVP ballot that was pieced together by adding up all five of our individual ballots. A first-place vote was worth five points, a second-place vote was worth four points, and so on. Further down below, you'll find all five of our individual ballots, including brief explainers so you know why we voted the way we did -- and also so you know who to yell at.

MVP leaderboard after Week 11

1. Lamar Jackson -- 23 points
2. Russell Wilson -- 21 points
3. Dak Prescott -- 13 points
4. Deshaun Watson -- 6 points
5. Aaron Rodgers -- 5 points
6. Patrick Mahomes -- 4 points
7. Michael Thomas -- 2 points
8. Kirk Cousins -- 1 point

We had a few newcomers this week in Michael Thomas and Kirk Cousins, both of whom are on the peripheries of the race but are still now officially in the running. You like that?

Will Brinson's ballot

  1. Lamar Jackson
  2. Dak Prescott
  3. Russell Wilson
  4. Deshaun Watson 
  5. Kirk Cousins

Jackson should be the clear-cut top choice this week after another brilliant performance. He knocked Watson out of the race -- Deshaun is still having an awesome season, but he's No. 4 here mostly because I don't think there are that many other great options. The field is a three-man race at this point. Kirk Cousins at fifth isn't that big of a stretch. He's played really well lately, beat the Cowboys on the road in prime time and stormed back from 20-points down against the Broncos. He's answering the questions people asked of him. Dak Prescott isn't getting his due, which is why I have him at No. 2 here. I think he and Russell Wilson are closer to Lamar than most people believe. Dak's the best betting value at 10-1 just because there are six weeks left in the season. Russell has Philly this week then back-to-back prime time games. Don't sleep on the ability of island games to impact the MVP voting. 

Jared Dubin's ballot

  1. Russell Wilson
  2. Lamar Jackson 
  3. Dak Prescott
  4. Patrick Mahomes
  5. Deshaun Watson

I haven't seen any of my colleagues' ballots but I have a feeling Wilson may find himself dropped down to the No. 2 spot in one or more of them simply because he didn't play this week and Jackson destroyed the Texans just like he destroys everyone else. I'm not penalizing Russ for his team having its bye scheduled right before we took this vote. He and Jackson are the top two candidates to me, with Prescott close behind and then a gap before we get to Mahomes and Watson. This is shaping up as an incredibly close race, and that feels more fun than when Mahomes was running away with things last year. (Even if the Mahomes Show was incredible.) 

John Breech's ballot

  1. Russell Wilson   
  2. Lamar Jackson   
  3. Aaron Rodgers    
  4. Michael Thomas 
  5. Deshaun Watson

With just six weeks to go in the season, I think it's safe to say that this has officially turned into a two-man race. For now, I still have Russell Wilson on top of my ballot and that's because I see no reason to punish him by moving him down a spot just because he had a bye in Week 11. Not only does Wilson lead the NFL in touchdown passes (23), but he also ranks third among all quarterbacks in rushing touchdowns, which sometimes gets forgotten due to Lamar Jackson's insane rushing numbers (Wilson has five rushing touchdowns, Jackson has six and Josh Allen leads the NFL with seven). Wilson has been playing at a high-level all season (he's had a QB rating of 100 or higher in eight of 10 games), and right now, I have him ahead of Jackson by a hair, and it's mostly due to the fact that Jackson has more talent around him, which makes Wilson slightly more "valuable" in my book. That being said, Jackson had a crazy game against Houston on Sunday with four touchdown passes and if Wilson has just a small slip-up down the stretch, I"ll be moving Jackson to the top of this list. As for the other players, Michael Thomas is on pace to break the NFL's single-season record for receptions in a season, and if that happens, I think we'll see him get some MVP consideration. Also, Aaron Rodgers will have a chance to make his MVP case in the coming weeks with key games against the 49ers and Vikings

Ryan Wilson's ballot

  1. Lamar Jackson
  2. Russell Wilson
  3. Dak Prescott
  4. Aaron Rodgers
  5. Deshaun Watson

I'll keep saying it until the facts suggest otherwise: Lamar Jackson is having a breakout season and he's primarily responsible for the Ravens' offensive explosion. We've been saying for weeks that in 2-3 years, Jackson will be the NFL's best player. He may already be there. Russell Wilson arguably does more for his team than Jackson, and while he's certainly worthy of the MVP award he's No. 1A on our ballot. Dak Prescott has somehow been overlooked for what he's accomplished this season but Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has cost himself a lot of money by not signing Prescott before the season. In keeping with the theme, Aaron Rodgers is the engine that's driving the Packers offense, one that was without Davante Adams earlier in the season, and the unit hardly missed a beat. Deshaun Watson was a legit candidate until he ran into the Ravens and Jackson on Sunday but a strong finish to the season could see him work his way back into the top 3.

Sean Wagner-McGough's ballot

  1. Lamar Jackson
  2. Russell Wilson
  3. Dak Prescott
  4. Patrick Mahomes
  5. Deshaun Watson

I changed my mind. Last week, I said that it would take a mistake on Wilson's part for me to move Jackson above him. Yet, even though Wilson was on his bye week, I still decided to move Jackson above Wilson. Now that they've played the same number of games, most of their statistics are virtually the same. The reason I bumped Jackson above Wilson -- he led the Ravens to a dominant win over the Seahawks a month ago. He holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Wilson. There's obviously more to an MVP race than wins, but when the two frontrunners are this close, it's difficult to ignore wins. And Jackson hasn't just beat Wilson, he's also beat Watson, another viable candidate to win MVP until Sunday. A lot can and will change between now and January. I'm guessing at some point between now and then, I'll move Wilson back above Jackson. That's how tight this race is. For me, the only player who has a legitimate shot to usurp either of those quarterbacks is Prescott. He's a very real factor in this race.