NFL MVP candidates, ranked to show no favorite deserves it in 2023

We’re in the home stretch of the regular season and that means we should be getting a clearer picture of who the NFL MVP might be when the dust settles. That really hasn’t happened. Uneven performances and a lack of a single standout candidate makes this the most unpredictable race in recent memory.

There’s still time for someone to separate themselves from the pack, but let’s look at the top candidates for MVP according to DraftKings and make a case why the will, or won’t be hoisting the award when the season is done.

No. 1: Jalen Hurts, QB — Philadelphia Eagles (+115)

The case for Jalen Hurts

When we look purely at who under center is doing the most to lead their team to victory, it’s Hurts by a mile.

Hurts has three fourth quarter comebacks and four game-winning drives to his name against some of the league’s best competition. The Eagles have a brutal schedule this season after being runners up in the Super Bowl, yet Hurts keeps finding a way to make this team win the ugly games.

As it stands he’s set to finish with 45 all-purpose touchdowns, making him the focal point of the entire Philadelphia offense. That’s even with a change at offensive coordinator that forced him to adapt, and being without Miles Sanders who was the team’s best running threat a year ago.

It’s a resume deserving of the award.

The case against Jalen Hurts

Quarterback wins are one of the dumbest stats in football and shouldn’t apply to MVP. Is what way does Hurts have a resume worth being most valuable player? He’s on pace to finish with 28 passing touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Sure, he could wind up with 17 rushing TDs too, but how much do we want to credit the QB for the Tush Push, and not the best offensive line in football?

Two quarterbacks in the past have won because of their total impact on the game independent of pure passing: Cam Newton and Lamar Jackson. Those guys both created on the run by themselves. Their rushing TDs were a product of power, athleticism, elusiveness — not having their butt shoved in a successful gimmick formation.

There is nothing about Hurts’ resume that’s better than any other quarterback at the top of this list. The fact he’s the big-time favorite right now is wild.

No. 2: Patrick Mahomes, QB — Kansas City Chiefs (+350)

The case for Patrick Mahomes

This has been a near-impossible season for the Chiefs’ QB, and he has been set up to fail in so many ways. Mahomes lost offensive mastermind Eric Bieniemy. The team did nothing to give him decent weapons — and that was after him having sub-par weapons a year ago.

If you take this Chiefs team and remove Mahomes they are one of the worst in the NFL. With him they’re 8-3 and cruising into the playoffs. If that doesn’t scream “valuable” then I don’t know what does.

Despite all the challenges Mahomes is still on pace for over 4,500 passing yards and 32 touchdowns. Just because it’s not his best year doesn’t mean he isn’t the MVP of 2023.

The case against Patrick Mahomes

If you’ve been going to a restaurant for years and had some of the best meals of your life, then go and have one that’s just “good” is it memorable? An MVP season should be iconic, and the truth is that Mahomes has been just … fine.

This is the best quarterback in football playing in the league’s weakest division and benefitting in a big way from it. No, he didn’t ask for the AFC West to be bad, but the challenge hasn’t been there this season. Without eye-popping stats there’s not much that makes this a decent MVP resume.

No. 3: Lamar Jackson, QB — Baltimore Ravens (+400)

The case for Lamar Jackson

What more do you want this man to do? Jackson remains the best dual-threat quarterback in the league by a mile and a player who truly changes the game on every down. In isolation his passing numbers don’t pop off the screen, but this is still a guy without great receivers.

Whatever success the Ravens has is a direct result of Jackson on offense, where’s he’s set to finish with 3,700 passing yards, 18 passing TDs — then adding on another 800 rushing yards and seven rushing TDs.

Being the Most Valuable Player is about shouldering the load, and Jackson has done that.

The case against Lamar Jackson

We can say “Well, Mahomes isn’t as good this year as the past — but he’s still worth the award.” That’s so much more difficult with Lamar Jackson.

Winning the MVP in 2019 was deserved because of just how prolific Jackson’s total numbers were — even if he didn’t throw for the most yards that year. If we compare to now it’s not even the same sport. As it stands Lamar will finish with:

  • 500 more passing yards
  • 18 fewer passing TDs
  • 400 fewer rushing yards

Total yards is a wash, but we’re talking about EIGHTEEN FEWER TOUCHDOWNS. That isn’t an MVP caliber year when you average less than two touchdowns a game on offense. Period.

No. 4: Tua Tagovailoa, QB — Miami Dolphins (+900)

The case for Tua Tagovailoa

Is there anything more you could ask from a quarterback? Tua is set to finish with just under 5,000 passing yards and 34 touchdowns — but more importantly is his ruthless efficiency. The Dolphins’ QB is completing 69.8% of his passes and his touchdowns outpace his turnover so drastically that it renders them pointless to discuss.

It might depend on how far Miami goes in the playoffs, but regardless he has a strong MVP resume.

The case against Tua Tagovailoa

No, he’s not an MVP. Not close to it. If anyone is the MVP on the Dolphins it’s Tyreek Hill, because he makes Tua look so good week-in, week-out.

When you have the best offensive mind in football, two of the best receivers, the best running game, and a top-tier offensive line then life is easy as a QB. Tagovailoa is barely ever asked to put the game on his back, and when he does he fails.

This Dolphins team is crumbling down the stretch and struggles to beat decent competition. When that happens you can’t be MVP.

No. 5: Dak Prescott, QB — Dallas Cowboys

The case for Dak Prescott

He’s been the best quarterback in the league this year. Period. End of story. As up-and-down as the Cowboys have been at times, Prescott has never wavered.

The biggest difference this year is how Dak has taken care of the football. Right now he’s set to finish with over 4,500 passing yards, 36 passing touchdowns — and only 9 interceptions. All this while completing 70 percent of his passes on their year. Dallas is 8-3 on the year because of Prescott being able to execute on offense and make his defense count.

The case against Dak Prescott

This is a quarterback who is great when everything is going his way, but he’s still unable to put a team on his back and turn things around. In 2023 he has ZERO fourth quarter comebacks and only one game-winning drive. How can anyone be the “Most Valuable Player” when they aren’t of value when the game matters the most?

Impressive stats all day, but that means nothing unless it gets turned into tough wins — and the Cowboys have had a Charmin-soft schedule without any quality victories on it.

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