The NFL season is winding down and there are now enough data points to project what will happen once the regular season is over in a few weeks. This includes the race for the most valuable player award, which seems to have been reduced to two players for the final sprint of the season. Kansas City Chiefs strategist Patrick Mahomesonce again, to played out in MVP consideration and is one of the leaders. There’s a new fighter in the ring this year who challenges Mahomes as NFL Most Valuable Player: Philadelphia Eagles strategist Jalen hurts.
Both quarterbacks absolutely have merit in their MVP cases, but it’s worth looking at the meteoric rise of Hurts who put him in this position. Not even a full calendar year ago, after a tough playoff loss at the hands of the Buccaneers, there was a legitimate question as to whether a consistently productive passing game could be built around Hurts. Well, that question has been put to bed this season. Hurts has improved his pocket throwing ability, the Eagles have two stud receivers in Devonta Smith and AJ Brown, and head coach Nick Siranni have done a great job installing a passing game that works for a unique quarterback like Hurts.
Couple that with all the hard work Hurts does on the field, and it’s easy to see how the Eagles quickly found themselves with MVP-quality production from a player who had a murky future very recently. That’s a far cry from the offense that spat at times during the 2021 season. The Eagles have an offense that can score on anyone and when they play a team who is still trying to figure out things like the New York Giants, they can display Madden numbers. The offense is built almost entirely around Hurts, and his skills have made the Eagles an elite offensive team – that’s a very valid case for MVP. According to Ben Baldwin of The Athletic, Hurts ranks third in expected points added per drop (0.242) and second in completion percentage over expectations (+3.7%).
As far as Mahomes goes, this season has been nothing short of amazing. There were questions about how the Chiefs Offense would work without the services of Tyreek Hill, but things tend to go well with the best quarterback in the league. Mahomes was sensational, continuing his usual NFL reign and cutting through defenses with ease. Having someone so historically good as Travis Kelce certainly helps, but Mahomes got to a spot where just about anyone could be around him and the Chiefs would move the ball. Hurts is a new challenger for Mahomes’ throne, but Mahomes remains absolutely the standard for quarterback play in the NFL.
Mahomes has entered a field that very few players in any American sport possess. As long as Mahomes is healthy there will be a reasonable argument that he wins the MVP trophy just about every season, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he will be. Still, this year he’s certainly put together a campaign worthy of being a frontrunner for this award. According to Pro Football Reference, Mahomes is on pace for 5,440 passing yards, 43 passing touchdowns and 14 interceptions. That should do. Maintaining this level of performance over a large number of passing attempts without the team’s former main target is unreal.
Either of these quarterbacks has done enough this season to earn this award and it’s no coincidence that both of these teams are firmly in Super Bowl contention. It also feels like a changing of the guard in the NFL. Mahomes, who just turned 27 at the start of the season, is already the future of NFL quarterbacks and Hurts is targeting his spot this year in his second full season as a starter. Appreciate the young talent currently on display tearing the NFL apart.