Coppola’s Column: Ranking the NFL MVP award finalists 


After a long NFL season filled with more surprises than I think anyone expected, the league appears to be on the right track as the Super Bowl grows nearer. The MVP race was tumultuous for most of the season, with the favorite changing seemingly every week. Over the last week, the finalists for the award were finally released, and now we can take a look at who has the best chance to take home the most coveted award in football. 

5. Justin Jefferson 

The state of this league disproportionately favors quarterbacks over any other position for the award. Jefferson is the only non-quarterback that was named a finalist, and deservedly so after leading the league in receptions and receiving yards despite having questionable quarterback play in Kirk Cousins. His 1,809 yards places No. 6 in a single season all time, although it’s worth noting that it was done with an additional 17th game. Jefferson’s receiving yards per game, meanwhile, ranks No. 21 all time. 

There were a few guys that had a shot at replacing him as a finalist for the award. Micah Parsons, who has a good chance at winning the Defensive Player of the Year award, had a shot at being named after a second stellar season to start his career. For other quarterbacks that could’ve potentially found their way in, Tua Tagovailoa very well could’ve been a front runner if he had played a full 17 games. However, with head injuries taking him out for four games, the efficient Dolphins quarterback missed out. The same goes for Jimmy Garoppolo, who was having a very efficient year for the 11 games he played, but that amount of time is not nearly enough to be given consideration. Geno Smith could’ve found his way as well, but his team was not good enough to warrant an inclusion. 

4. Josh Allen 

It’s somewhat a surprise that Allen even was named a finalist. The Buffalo Bills quarterback struggled to find consistency throughout the season, mixing stellar performances with games reminiscent of the era before his arrival. The season wasn’t as poor as last season, a year in which he fell off heavily from his near-MVP campaign in 2020. The year still left a lot to be desired, especially considering how the team was finally looking to make a run at the Super Bowl. 

The upside is that he was only second behind the MVP frontrunner in touchdown passes with 35. He also tagged along with the seventh-most passing yards in the season, surpassing 4,000 for the third time in his young career. The downside is that Allen also was tied for third in interceptions, with 14, and was in the bottom half of the league in completion percentage. He wasn’t sacked a lot and he still had his usual weapons around him, so there is hope he can potentially turn it around next season. For now, it doesn’t place him in good standing for the MVP. 

3. Joe Burrow 

Burrow is once again back in the conversation after breaking out in his second season. Last year, he was probably the second best player in the league, only behind Aaron Rodgers and his stellar MVP-winning performance. He followed up that Comeback Player of the Year season with a strong second showing, though not quite as good. His yards, completion percentage, and touchdowns went down this campaign, though he threw fewer interceptions. 

Burrow was still good for second in both completion percentage and touchdowns this season, racking up the fifth-most passing yards as well. The LSU alum’s strong 100.8 passer rating ranked No. 6 in the league, but his 12 interceptions were the seventh-most in the NFL. The Bengals, meanwhile, at the time of writing have made it to the AFC championship game and still look to contend for a Super Bowl. 

2. Jalen Hurts 

For the longest time, Hurts was considered the favorite of many. His team boasts the best record in the league with a top-three offensive unit. While this is a regular season award, they just destroyed the 49ers in the NFC Championship game, and have a good shot at taking home the Lombardi for the second time in six years. Hurts, for his part, has taken a massive jump in year three, going from one of the weakest quarterbacks in the league to one of the very best. It’s not unusual for a quarterback to make a leap in year three, and following the addition of A.J. Brown in the offseason we saw a significantly better product from the former Alabama standout. 

Hurts only threw for 22 touchdowns, and under 4,000 yards, but there’s more to his performance than those numbers. His interceptions dipped to only six, and his completion percentage jumped up to 67%. Despite getting sacked the seventh-most in the league, he managed the fourth-best passer rating with a 101.5 as well. That’s all without mentioning his impact on the ground. He finished No. 2 in the league in rushing touchdowns with 13, one shy of Cam Newton’s record. For the second season in a row, he also averaged 50 rushing yards a game, which placed top-35 in the league and the second most by a quarterback behind Justin Fields. There’s a bright future ahead for Hurts and this Eagles team, although he will have to wait at least another year to get this accolade. 

1.Patrick Mahomes 

Who else but Mahomes should be here at the top spot? He has everything going for him, both from a team success and personal perspective. The Kansas City Chiefs tied with the Eagles for the best record in the league, and their offense ranks first in both points and yards. Despite how likely his MVP accolade is at the moment, it didn’t always seem that way. He was a bit inconsistent for a portion of the season, but absolutely excelled the last four weeks to take the lead. 

Unsurprisingly, he was first in touchdown passes with 41, six more than Josh Allen. He also tossed for over 5,250 yards, breaking his previous total of 5,097 that he collected in his first MVP campaign. That mark is also good for the fourth-most all-time in a season. 2018’s MVP win was more up in the air thanks to how good of a season Drew Brees had, but the path appears much clearer this year. 

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