Like most prominent individual awards in the sports world – Heisman Trophy, NBA MVP, American/National League MVPs, Hart Memorial Trophy – it’s become popular to track the prospective NFL Most Valuable Player from preseason through Week 18 … well, this is the first time the race will extend to Week 18, but you get it.
The 2021 regular season has already served up seemingly legitimate candidates whom the football fates have taken off the board – injured Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry chief among them with Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, who’s never received an MVP vote, likely out of the picture, too, even as he returns from a surgically repaired finger this weekend.
Others who seemed likely to be front-runners – Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen, Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, the 2020 MVP – still have time to get into the thick of the race, Prescott and Rodgers already on the radar.
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But as the season crosses its midpoint going into Week 10, it seems an MVP short list has crystallized as this campaign continues taking shape. A poll of USA TODAY Sports’ NFL experts reveals the following players as the leaders for league MVP in 2021:
(Methodology: Five points awarded for first-place vote, three points for a second-place vote, and one point for third-place vote.)
His team has the NFL’s best record (8-1) at the halfway point, and Murray has been the league’s most accurate passer (72.7% completion rate) so far. However an ankle injury sidelined him in Week 9, and Arizona has really limited his runs – which is probably for the best. Murray and the Cardinals also have to prove they can avoid yet another second-half fade.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady (15 points)
He’s obviously more interested in…