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By: Justin Rivers
With four weeks remaining in the season, the race for the AP NFL Most Valuable Player award has become a two-man slugfest between Patrick “Patrick Price” Mahomes and Aaron “Rodgers Rate” Rodgers. With how great Rodgers has been the last three weeks, if he’s not already the MVP front-runner, then he must be nipping at Mahomes’ heals. In the last three weeks, Aaron Rodgers has used a close, 3-point overtime loss against a league-best defense in the Colts, a bludgeoning of the Bears, and a clinic of the Eagles to not only re-introduce himself as one of the league’s top signal callers, but also to stake his claim to being a top contender for MVP – if not the front-runner.
In week 11, the Packers were rolling in the first half of their game against the Colts and took a 28-14 lead into halftime. Through two quarters, Rodgers was wheeling and dealing, tossing three first-half touchdowns; however, sh*t began to hit the fan in the second half as the Colts scored 17 straight points to begin the next half. Rodgers nearly saved the day in regulation with a potential game-winning march sparked by a 47-yard bomb to Marquez Valdez-Scantling in the fourth quarter, but the game would eventually go to overtime, where a game-deciding fumble by Marquez Valdez-Scantling in Green Bay territory would lead to a Colts game-winning field goal three plays later. On the day, Rodgers threw for 311 yards and three touchdowns. Plus, he was certainly in position to win the game in overtime; however, Valdez-Scantling and his buttery, insecure mitts put a damper on that.
The following week, the Packers took on the rival Bears in a NFC North showdown, in which the Rodgers-led Green Bay offense just teed off on the allegedly solid Chicago defense. Rodgers threw four touchdowns as the Packers easily rolled to a 41-25 victory. On their first series, Rodgers connected with his favorite target, Davante Adams, on a 12-yard strike for the first score of the game that was highlighted by Adam’s fresh celly.
With Green Bay scoring a touchdown on each of its first three possessions, the game quickly became as uncompetitive as I imagine the Ohio State-Michigan football game would’ve been this weekend. At one point in the game, the Packers were leading 41-10.
Nevertheless, Rodgers looked incredible. Although he completed 21 passes for only 211 yard, Rodgers accounted for four touchdown passes to four different receivers and was not sacked once. He was money both under pressure and on third and fourth down, completing eight of nine passes and producing seven first downs on third and fourth down. After Green Bay blew a 14-point halftime lead the week prior, Rodgers came out firing against Chicago and not only improved to 20-5 versus the Bears in his career, but also became the eleventh player in NFL history with at least 50,000 career passing yards.
Last Sunday, Rodgers was lights out against the Eagles, throwing for 295 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions in a 30-16 victory. Green Bay was able to withstand a late, fourth quarter rally from a Jalen Hurts-led Philly team that cut the Packers lead from 30-3 to 30-16.
Further increasing his NFL passing touchdowns lead this season, Rodgers connected with Davante Adams for Adam’s second touchdown of the night in the third quarter to reach the 400 career passing touchdown milestone. The only other players with at 400 career passing touchdowns are Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, and Phillip Rivers; however, Rodgers got to the milestone faster than any of the aforementioned players.
While Aaron Rodgers has certainly accomplished a couple milestones these past few weeks, he has been simultaneously strengthening his case for MVP, and here’s how Rodgers is at least neck-and-neck with Mahomes for the AP NFL Most Valuable Player award.
Firstly, let’s look at his team. It is no secret that Aaron Rodgers is widely known for doing the most with the least. This season, Green Bay’s defense has occasionally been decent; however, they are most often bad. Moreover, Rodgers only has one consistent, reliable receiver to which to throw the ball in Davante Adams. In a draft littered with talented receivers, the team opted to draft a quarterback in the first round and not draft a single receiver, passing up on rockstars like Justin Jefferson, Tee Higgins, and Chase Claypool in the process.
In spite of the dearth of talent with which Rodgers is surrounded, the Packers are 9-3 and first in the NFC North with a chance at the top seed in the conference – thanks in large part to Rodgers’ MVP-calibre play. Through 12 games, Green Bay boasts a league-best 31.6 points per game. Plus, they are 5-2 since their stinker in Tampa Bay with both losses being by six points or less.
This season, the 37-year-old Rodgers must’ve downed a couple fingers from the fountain of youth, because he has been a “BAAAAD MAN”! He has thrown for 3,395 yards and 36 touchdowns against just four interceptions. Going into week 14, he leads the league in passing touchdowns and is five touchdowns clear of fellow MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes. He has a league-best passer rating. Furthermore, he’s second in total quarterback rating and top-10 in passing yards per game, passing yards, and completions.
Rodgers most definitely has a solid shot at MVP. Although Mahomes has thrown two fewer interceptions, and his team has a better record, he undoubtedly benefits from his team’s respectable defense and the extremely deep group of receiving weapons at his disposal. Mahomes wasn’t forced to survive without his top weapon like Rodgers had to in the games Davante Adams missed this season.
Moreover, no player has won MVP within two seasons of having already won the award since Peyton Manning went back-to-back over a decade ago. As such, recency bias could be working against Mahomes and in favor of Rodgers. Aaron Rodgers has arguably been better this season than either of his two MVP seasons in 2011 and 2014. With four games remaining, he could also top his previous career-high in single-season touchdown passes from 2011. He’s also on track to throw for 40-plus passing touchdowns for the third time in his career. Plus, unless Mahomes throws fifty touchdowns again or finishes with statistics lightyears ahead of the next quarterback, it’s not outside the realm of possible belief that Rodgers could snag the award – especially with how much friendlier the Packers’ remaining schedule is compared to that of the Chiefs. So, stay tuned and check out our case for Patrick Mahomes as MVP here.
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