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2020-2021 NFL MVP: Who are the top candidates to win this year?

After an improbable 2020 season, a year like no other, three candidates emerge as the front runners for the 2020-2021 NFL MVP Award.

2020-2021 NFL MVP: Who are the top candidates to win this year?
GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 27: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers drops back to pass in the third quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Lambeau Field on December 27, 2020 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

The night before the Super Bowl, the NFL’s best will gather at the Straz Center in Tampa to present the 2020-2021 NFL Honors and award the NFL MVP Award. In what seems to be a two-person race, a few other quarterbacks remain in the running for the NFL’s more prestigious award. 

Top 2020-2021 NFL MVP candidates

While there have been dozens of marquee performers in 2020, it takes consistency to rise above the rest. It also helps to play quarterback. Since 1961, non-QB players have won the NFL MVP award only 16 times, the latest being Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings in 2012. 

The race for the 2020-2021 NFL MVP award is no different as quarterbacks dominate the ballots.

Aaron Rodgers leads the race for 2020-2021 NFL MVP

Maybe when the Green Bay Packers drafted Jordan Love in the first round, it was to make Rodgers want to burn the league down in a firestorm of touchdowns. If that’s the case — well played, Green Bay, well played. 

Aaron Rodgers has been simply sensational this season. He ended the regular season throwing for 4,299 yards, 48 touchdowns, and five interceptions. He ranks seventh in passing yards, first in touchdowns, and first in QBR (84.4).

Rodgers is simply playing lights out football. He did all of this while leading his team to a 13-3 record and securing the coveted home-field advantage, meaning the NFC Champion will have to pass through Lambeau Field.

The season Rodgers has put together could be one of his best. His 121.5 passer rating this season is the second-highest in his career. Rodgers has a 70.7% completion percentage, second-best of his career. Even at age 37, Rodgers is still posting career-leading numbers.

His Week 17 performance might have been the icing on the cake for his upcoming coronation. Against rival Chicago Bears, Rodgers went 19 of 24 passing for 240 yards and threw for four touchdowns with no interceptions. 

If he wins the 2020-2021 NFL MVP, he will be the sixth player in NFL history to have won the award three times. Rodgers will join Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Johnny Unitas, Jim Brown, and Peyton Manning as the only member with three or more. Manning (five) has the most NFL MVP awards in history.

Patrick Mahomes still has a chance to win the 2020-2021 NFL MVP award

Patrick Mahomes could have some say in who wins the hardware before it is all said and done. He led the Chiefs to an NFL best 14-2 record in 2020 and had another phenomenal season. 

Perhaps we take for granted the greatness of Mahomes on the field. Even in 2020, where he threw for 4,740 passing yards, it is looked on as a down year because he was second in the NFL. While yes, he was behind Deshaun Watson by 83 yards, he didn’t even play in Week 17. He rested last week.

If he played, he would have likely beat his 2018 career-best season of 5,097. His 38 passing touchdowns were fourth in the NFL. He was second in QBR (82.9) and third in passer rating at 108.2.

Could Josh Allen pull off the upset?

Here is the big question. Did Josh Allen do enough in his incredible season to earn the 2020-2021 NFL MVP Award? He has a compelling case.

In a single year, Allen raised his completion percentage from 58.8% to 69.1% and nearly doubled his touchdown passes from 20 to 37 while throwing roughly the same amount of interceptions (10). He also led the Bills to their best record since 1991 (13-3) and their first AFC East crown since 1995. Now let’s add in the rushing ability for Josh Allen.

He ended the season having rushed for 421 yards and eight touchdowns. It was his third year in a row with at least eight rushing touchdowns and 420 yards on the ground. 

The biggest case for Allen over Rodgers is his touchdown percentage. Allen accounted for 82.7% of the Bills’ scores this past season. Rodgers slides in at 77%. Allen finished the regular season with 4,544 passing yards, fifth-most in the league, above Rodgers’ 4,299.

On top of all of this, Josh Allen is the first player in NFL history with 4,500+ passing yards, 35+ passing touchdowns, and five or more rushing touchdowns in a season. 

Following the conclusion of the regular season, Bovada updated its MVP odds. Yes, Rodgers is the favorite still at -2000. However, Allen ended at +900, which now put him ahead of Mahomes at +1600. 

When is the MVP voting taking place?

Voting for the NFL’s 2020-2021 MVP award has already wrapped up. It takes place between the end of the regular season and the beginning of the playoffs. There is typically a one-week period in which voters can cast their votes and submit their ballots to be tallied.

This makes it a regular season award, rather than allowing postseason bias to kick in. If it wasn’t this way, a deep run by the Bills and solid performances by Josh Allen might have been enough to steal a few votes just in time.

Has a rookie ever won NFL MVP?

It has happened even though none of us likely saw it happen. That honor goes to one of the greatest, if not the greatest player ever, Cleveland Browns RB Jim Brown. 

The league’s first MVP winner, Brown is the only player to take home MVP honors in his rookie season. Brown is also the only player to win league MVP honors in his first two seasons in the league (1957-1958) and just one of four players to win league MVP in consecutive years. 

Brown rushed for a league-leading 942 yards and nine touchdowns in 1957, averaging 4.7 yards per carry. He led the league in rushing by 242 yards and was fourth in yards from scrimmage. Remember, the NFL was way different back then. In 1958, he rushed for 1,527 yards and 17 touchdowns. During his ’58 campaign, Brown ran for over 100 yards in nine of 12 games.

Tommy Garrett is a writer for PFN covering fantasy football. You can read more of his work here and follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.

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