The NFL MVP Race Is Between Matt Ryan And Aaron Rodgers, So Here’s Who Wins It

Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers thought the Packers could run the table after getting trounced by Washington in Week 11. Green Bay did just that in winning their final six games and the NFC North. (Photo: Washington Times)

There have been a lot of names thrown out regarding this seasons NFL MVP award. Ezekiel “Zeke” Elliott. David Johnson. Tom Brady. All of them have been discussed and all of that discussion had merit.

Emphasis on ‘had’. 

At this point, the race isn’t between a group of players anymore; just two: Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons and Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers. I’m going to put their 2016 resumes out there and let you know who should win the award this year. For those who follow me on Twitter (which you should by clicking here), my choice might surprise you.

Aaron Rodgers

The Numbers (League Ranking In Parentheses)

4,428 yards (4th)

40 TDs (1st)

72.9 QBR (4th)

104.2 Passer Rating (4th)

65.7 Completion % (9th)

Aaron Rodgers plays the quarterback position how I’ve always imagined.

So it hurt my feelings when some (one person) in the media called Rodgers “Jay Cutler with a ring” and had the audacity to say that Matthew Stafford (whom I like, by the way) was better than him. It didn’t make any sense to me, because despite the struggles of the Packers as a whole there was one constant:

Aaron Rodgers was playing the position how it’s supposed to be played. And doing so at an MVP level.

In fact even during the Packers lowest point, when the team lost four straight games and were a long shot to finish .500 let alone make the postseason Rodgers production never waned. In fact even during that losing streak few played better than Rodgers did:

Rodgers numbers during the Packers’ four-game losing streak (Via Pro-Football Reference)

When Rodgers said he thought the Packers could “run the table” I believed him. He’s proven time and again that when he gets on a roll, his teammates follow. Also, despite what former Packer a media member rolls out to criticize Rodgers might say, there’s no denying that whatever he’s doing makes his team better.

Having said all of that, the issue with Rodgers winning the award doesn’t have anything to do with his play. He has been brilliant this season and anyone who says otherwise shouldn’t be bothered with. The issue is that there is someone down South who has been quietly playing better than he has all season.

Matt Ryan

The Numbers

4,944 yards (2nd)

38 TDs (2nd)

83.4 QBR (1st)

117.1 Passer Rating (1st)

69.9 Completion % (3rd)

Matt Ryan is having the greatest statistical season of his career. He’s also got the city of Atlanta believing this year could be different. (Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images North America)

I don’t blame you for overlooking Matt Ryan this season. I say that as a lifelong Falcons fan who, shamefully, did the same thing.

This isn’t the first time Ryan has done this, you know. Since arriving in Atlanta as the 3rd-Overall pick in 2008 he’s done a lot of winning in the regular season and putting up some nice numbers along the way. Ryan, who has won 85 regular-season games, has put the Falcons in that all-too-familiar “Tell Me When They Do Something In The Playoffs” role fans of Atlanta sports franchises have been infuriated with.

While I have admittedly trumpeted for Aaron Rodgers to win the league MVP for weeks,  Matt Ryan has quietly put together a season that is not only more deserving than Rodgers, it is, for all intents and purposes, not even a conversation.

Statistically Ryan has been better over the course of a full 16-game season, what separates it further is that Ryan, who has led the Falcons to an 11-5 record and a 1st-round bye in this years’ playoffs as the NFC’s second seed, did it against far superior defenses (particularly secondaries) than Rodgers has. That isn’t Rodgers’ fault, it’s just how the schedule broke. The Falcons schedule included four of the top-10 pass defenses in the NFL in 2016, going 3-1 (a pass interference call away from 4-0) and Ryan throwing for 1,108 yards and nine touchdowns to just two interceptions against Denver, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Arizona.

By the way, three of those games (Denver, Seattle, and LA) were played on the road.

Ryan is also at the head of a unit that averaged 33.8 points per game (540 points total), tied for sixth all-time in NFL history.

So who wins?

As recently as last week I thought Aaron Rodgers should win MVP. I’ve changed my mind.

What Ryan has done this season has been nothing short of incredible. Validating that success with the Most Valuable Player Award (which would be the first in Atlanta Falcons franchise history, by the way) would and should happen.

My Top-5 MVP Vote:

  1. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
  2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
  3. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
  4. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
  5. Tom Brady, New England Patriots


Check out Season 1 of my podcast Because of Sports Podcast on  iTunes and  Stitcher. Also, Follow me on Twitter (@dacubbage) and Instagram (@adamcubbage). 


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