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NFL Week 7 Preview & Picks - The MVP Race heats up

Ranking the top six contenders

Seth Dunlap
October 18, 2018 - 7:54 pm
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As we approach the midway point of the NFL season the real title contenders are beginning to separate themselves from the rest of the league.  Similarly, the real MVP candidates are separating themselves from other pretenders.

A trio of old gunslingers are trying to stave off an insurrection from the West.   The MVP race is as tight at this point as any in recent memory.  Will a sentimental favorite finally win the award?  Will the Rodney Dangerfield of quarterbacks finally get some respect? Can the young phenoms continue to take over the league, forcing voters’ hands?

As part of my Week 6 NFL preview and picks, let’s rank the six MVP favorites in order of likelihood they’ll win the award.

 

1. Drew Brees, QB - New Orleans Saints  (1658 yds, 11 TD, 0 INT, 78% cmp, 8.7 y/a, 122.3 rating)

Brees should be everybody’s current frontrunner.  Not only is he on a campaign to break every major career quarterback record, he’s on pace to, yet again, set the record for single season completion percentage – a mark he just set last year at 72%.   He also leads the league in QB rating, and is yet to throw an interception.  If the Saints continue to look like a true Super Bowl contender, win their division and possibly grab a top two seed and a bye, this should be Brees’ award to lose.  Oh, and somehow he’s never won a league MVP before.  Voters will likely look for any way to rectify that injustice before his career is over.

Saints @ Ravens (-2.5)

Pick: Saints 24, Ravens 23

Pick Against the Spread: Saints (+2.5)

 

2. Patrick Mahomes, QB – Kansas City Chiefs (1865 yds, 18 TD, 4 INT, 63% cmp, 9.6 y/a, 112.2 rating)

Mahomes has been a revelation for Kansas City, and some traditional metrics suggests he should be the frontrunner.   He leads the league in touchdown passes, and he’s shown an incredible ability to force the ball downfield with a 9.6 yards per attempt average.  However he’s played one more game than Brees, who could overtake his yardage total after the Chiefs’ bye.  Also, Mahomes has looked more pedestrian against the two best defenses he’s faced, throwing just one touchdown with two interception combined in games against Jacksonville and Denver.  Still, the young gunslinger will likely end the season with absurd, video-game-esque numbers to pad his MVP candidacy.

Bengals @ Chiefs (-6) (SNF)

Pick: Chiefs 34, Bengals 30

ATS: Bengals (+6)

 

3. Todd Gurley, RB – Los Angeles Rams (623 rush yds, 4.8 ypc, 21 rec, 247 rec yds, 11 TDs)

As long as the Rams continue to look like the 2007 Patriots, Gurley will stay among the favorites to win league MVP.  He leads the league in both touchdowns (11) and rushing yards (623), and may have a shot to break LaDanian Tomlinson’s single season touchdown record of 31.  While it could be nearly impossible for a running back to win this award in the modern NFL, Gurley has the best chance of any non-QB in the league.

Rams @ 49ers (-9.5)

Pick: Rams 34, 49ers 26

ATS: 49ers (+9.5)

 

4. Aaron Rodgers, QB – Green Bay Packers (1997 yds, 12 TD, 1 INT, 61% cmp, 7.9 y/a, 100.1 rating)

The legend of Aaron Rodgers is growing exponentially by the week, as he led yet another improbably 4th quarter comeback last week against the 49ers.  The fact that the Packers needed a late comeback against the 49ers doesn’t really help his MVP candidacy, however.  The Packers have struggled to a 3-2-1 record with a ridiculous five game stretch looming that includes road games against the Rams, Patriots, Seahawks, and Vikings.  If the Packers fade from the playoff race, Rodgers has no real chance at winning his third MVP.

Packers BYE

 

5. Philip Rivers, QB – Los Angeles Chargers (1702 yds, 15 TD, 3 INT, 69% cmp, 8.8 y/a, 115.1 rating)

There’s been no elite quarterback more disrespected the past decade than Philip Rivers.  Seriously.  He was never in that Brady-Brees-Manning conversation, and even was left out with Roethlisberger started getting added.  He’s played most of his career in irrelevant obscurity in San Diego, and now he plays for a team playing little step-brother to the Rams in Los Angeles.   However, Rivers deserves to be garnering serious MVP consideration this season.  He is second in the league in TDs (15) and rating (115.1) and the Chargers are winners of three straight, thrusting themselves back into the AFC playoff conversation.  If the Chargers come back on the Chiefs in the AFC West, don’t be surprised if Rivers leapfrogs Mahomes on most of these MVP rankings lists. 

Titans @ Chargers (-6.5)

Pick: Chargers 23, Titans 20

ATS: Titans (+6.5)

 

6. Jared Goff, QB – Los Angeles Rams (1928 yds, 12 TDs, 5 INTs, 69% cmp, 9.9 y/a, 110.9 rating)

The quarterback of the league’s best team is almost a default inclusion in this lists, and Goff is playing the best football of his young career to back that up.  His 9.9 yards per attempt is a testament to his unique ability to stretch the field in Sean McVay’s offense.  Speaking of McVay, a lot of Goff-doubters say that he’s a product of McVay’s system.   I’d say both guys are benefitting each other.  While Goff is falling behind teammate Todd Gurley in the MVP race, if the Rams cruise to the league’s best record then Goff must be considered.

 

 

OTHER GAMES

 

Broncos (-1) @ Cardinals (TNF)

Pick: Broncos 24, Cardinals 17

ATS: Broncos (-1)

 

Patriots (-3) @ Bears

Pick: Bears 27, Patriots 24

ATS: Bears (+3)

 

Lions (-3) @ Dolphins

Pick: Dolphins 26, Lions 24

ATS: Dolphins (+3)

 

Vikings (-3.5) @ Jets

Pick: Vikings 24, Jets 23

ATS: Jets (+3.5)

 

Panthers @ Eagles (-4.5)

Pick: Eagles 27, Panthers 20

ATS: Eagles (-4.5)

 

Browns @ Bucs (-3.5)

Pick: Bucs 20, Browns 17

ATS: Browns (+3.5)

 

Texans @ Jaguars (-5)

Pick: Jaguars 23, Texans 17

ATS: Jaguars (-5)

 

Dallas @ Washington (-1.5)

Pick: Washington 27, Dallas 24

ATS: Washington (-1.5)

 

Giants @ Falcons (-4)

Pick: Falcons 30, Giants 20

ATS: Falcons (-4)

 

Last week’s picks

 

Last week straight up:  13-2

SEASON STRAIGHT UP:  35-15-1

 

Last week against the spread:  9-5-1

SEASON ATS:  33-31-2

 

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