As the NFL regular season comes close to a close, one of the foregone conclusions we’ve expected all season long was the crowning of Aaron Rodgers as league MVP. Entering last week, Rodgers was 13-0 as a starter of the Green Bay Packers and his current TD to INT ratio is a both sterling and unheard of 40 to 6. But then Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees came up with a massive 400+ yard, 5 touchdown performance at Minnesota on the heels of Rodgers losing to the Chiefs, and now all of a sudden we have a conversation on our hands about this award. At this point I don’t think we can outright hand the title to Rodgers, nor can we condemn him for his failure at reaching perfection. Ultimately how these last two games play out could have a major impact on who wins the award. That said, I believe Brees is currently most deserving.
If the Saints lose to the Falcons next Monday night and Brees doesn’t play well, that will probably seal his fate with regards to the award. If, however, the Saints win and clinch the NFC South on the heels of yet another masterful performance by the red hot Brees, then the voters have something to think about. Assuming the Packers win as well, they’ll have clinched the top seed, which means Rodgers likely won’t even play in week 17. The Saints, on the other hand, will be battling for the 2 seed right up to week 17… so the final game will showcase Brees against a leaky Panthers’ pass defense because that game will be a must win for the Saints regardless of any week 16 outcomes. Consider this: the race is currently pretty tight, and if Brees closes the season with 2 solid performances that clinch the Saints the 2 seed while Rodgers wins one game and sits out the next, the scales start to tip further towards the Saints’ signal caller.
Stats to consider:
Brees is 417-583 for 4,780 yards, 71.5% completions, 37 TDs, 11 INTs, and a 109.1 QB rating.
Rodgers is 322-473 for 4,360 yards, 68.1% competions, 40 TDs, 6 INTs, and a 120.1 QB rating.
Pro Rodgers people will point out the following: Rodgers has more TDs in less passes, almost half the INTs, a higher QB rating, more wins, and a head to head victory. Those are all true and valid/sound arguments to make. Rodgers is a very deserving candidate that is having a historically productive season at the quarterback position. In fact, had the Packers gone 16-0, there would have been no discussion necessary.
Here’s some things to consider about Brees, though. He is 304 yards away from breaking Dan Marino’s NFL passing yardage record in a season and he’ll most likely do so next Monday against the Falcons in week 16. That’s a record that’s stood for 27 years. Brees also on pace to break his own NFL record for completion percentage in a season (the record is 70.62% and he’s currently at 71.5% with two homes games in a Dome left where weather won’t be a factor). Finally, thanks to 15 straight games with at least one TD pass this season, he continues to inch closer to Johnny Unitas’ previously heralded as unbreakable NFL record of 47 straight regular season games with a TD pass. Brees’ streak currently stands at 41, 2nd best all time, and if he continues to throw at least one touchdown pass in the games he plays he’s on pace to tie Unitas’ record by week 4 of next season and break it by week 5. Brees has also not thrown a single interception in the last five weeks and he’s clearly playing his best football at the most crucial time of the year (November and December). No surprise, the Saints are 5-0 in that period. Rodgers has thrown 3 INTs over that span and his team is 4-1. Rodgers has also benefited from his defense generating 33 turnovers this season and Brees has benefited from just 13. Quite a discrepancy there, and obviously Brees has had much less short fields to work with. His yardage total may benefit from that, but his touchdown total does not. Brees also leads Rodgers in the Miami Herald’s NFL passer rating, a passer success system they’ve devised and produced for 14 years now that’s widely respected as an alternative measure to the traditional “QB rating” in determining the success of a quarterback. Brees did lose to Rodgers, but that game came down to a final play from the one yard line where the Saints elected not to throw the ball, in Green Bay, on the first week of the NFL season.
To be clear, this isn’t an indictment of Aaron Rodgers who’s clearly a fantastic NFL quarterback and certainly deserving of the NFL’s MVP award this season. That said, when you factor in all the things to consider I truly believe this is a toss up and it will come down to the final two games before a decision is made. In the end, though, I have a hard time not giving the MVP to a guy that breaks the NFL record for completion % in a season while breaking the NFL record for most passing yards in a season. Sit for a second and let that one sink in. Brees is throwing more passes than anyone in history, and despite this, he’s completing a higher percentage than anyone in history ever has. That seems humanly impossible. Aaron Rodgers has been amazing this season, but what NFL records will be break? He has a shot at the best QB rating in a season, but he currently trails Peyton Manning’s career best mark of 121.1 (Rodgers is at 120.2). We’ll see how these last two weeks play out, but after the 16-0 mark went out the window for the Packers, my admittedly biased opinion on who deserves the MVP is tilting to Drew Brees.