Photo Credit: Cowboys Wire – USA Today (featured image), ESPN (team logos)
5. Matt Ryan, Quarterback, Atlanta Falcons (6-4)
- Statistics: 236/346 (69.6% completion percentage), 3,247 passing yards, 24 passing touchdowns, 5 interceptions, 23 rush attempts, 69 rushing yards
- Analysis: Matt Ryan is playing some of the best football of his life right now. He is on pace to become just the second quarterback in NFL history to throw for 4,500 or more yards in five or more consecutive seasons. He looks like he is back to his 2012 form when he had a career high season, converted on many of the Falcons’ clutch opportunities, and led the team to the NFC championship game with an NFC-best 13-3 record. Leading his team atop the NFC South and leading the highest scoring offense in the NFL (32.0 points per game), Matt Ryan is among the current favorites for the NFL MVP award this season, and he may very well stay on this list if he keeps it up.
4. Derek Carr, Quarterback, Oakland Raiders (7-2)
- Statistics: 234/354 (66.1% completion percentage), 2,505 passing yards, 17 passing touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 22 rush attempts, 64 rushing yards
- Analysis: In just his three NFL seasons, Derek Carr has taken this Oakland Raiders team from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs. His quarterbacking over the first three seasons of his young career has made this Raiders team a contender to win their division and get to the postseason. This season, his quarterbacking has been some of the best the NFL has seen. Carr is emerging as one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks, and he appears to have an extremely bright future, especially since he has been able to form one of the NFL’s most lethal quarterback to wide receiver connections with second year star Amari Cooper. If Carr can keep this up and even improve, which he should be able to do given that he is only 25 years old, he will be a contender to become one of the youngest NFL MVP award winners in NFL history once this season is over.
3. Dak Prescott, Quarterback, Dallas Cowboys (8-1)
- Statistics: 187/280 (66.8% completion percentage), 2,339 passing yards, 14 passing touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 31 rush attempts, 125 rushing yards, 4 rushing touchdowns
- Analysis: Dak Prescott has emerged as one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL, and his statistics are getting better and better each week as he develops into an even better overall quarterback. Through nine games in his rookie season, Prescott’s total touchdown to interception ratio is 9 to 1, which leads the NFL among quarterbacks who have played in each of their team’s games. He is becoming much more productive and directly responsible for the Cowboys’ scoring than he was up until a few weeks ago, and having such great statistics to back up his great play and leading the team with the best record in the NFL makes him a solid MVP award candidate at this point in the season.
2. Tom Brady, Quarterback, New England Patriots (7-2)
- Statistics: 121/166 (72.9% completion percentage), 1,635 passing yards, 12 passing touchdowns, 1 interception, 15 rush attempts, 51 rushing yards
- Analysis: In his five games back from suspension, Tom Brady has been dominant in pretty much every game and has shown that he is really back, and he is not rusty. Sure, he has only played in five games so far while many players have played in nine or 10, but if he puts up solid numbers all season long like he has done so far and gets this Patriots team yet another first round bye in the postseason, there is no doubt that he will be one of the league’s top players with a legitimate shot at winning the NFL MVP award yet again. The reason he is towards the top of this list is because he has shown that value already since returning from his suspension.
1. Ezekiel Elliott, Running Back, Dallas Cowboys (8-1)
- Statistics: 198 rush attempts, 1,005 rushing yards, 9 rushing touchdowns, 18 receptions, 250 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown
- Analysis: At only 21 years of age, Ezekiel Elliott is the best running back in the NFL already. Not only that, but the Cowboys are actually winning games and have the best record in the NFL without their long-time starting quarterback Tony Romo. Elliott is carrying the load for this team, and he is doing so effectively, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. He has also emerged as a pretty decent pass-catching running back as well. Right now, he is certainly one of the most if not the most valuable player in the NFL, and down the stretch he will be a key player to watch for to have a chance at winning this season’s NFL MVP award as a rookie running back.