Hannable: Stop overthinking things, Tom Brady is the 2017 NFL MVP

Ryan Hannable
December 27, 2017 - 11:36 pm

Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports

FOXBORO — Late in the NFL season, it’s best to look at things strictly for what they are.

Instead of trying to come up with ways the Jets could beat the Patriots, just acknowledge the Patriots are by far the better team and are going to win the game. Don’t even bother trying to make a case for the Browns to beat the Steelers, either. Cleveland is that bad and will go winless. The NFL season has been going for four months and by now we have a good idea what is going to happen each week.

Now, take this same mentality to the NFL MVP race. Tom Brady is the MVP and it’s time to stop trying to make cases for other players to win the award.

Going into the final week of the season, Brady leads in the NFL in passing yards, is second in yards per attempt, completion percentage and quarterback rating, and is third in touchdown passes. To top it off, the Patriots are 12-3 and on their way to the No. 1 seed in the AFC for the upcoming playoffs.

Not to mention, the 40-year-old lost arguably his favorite target of all-time in Julian Edelman to a torn ACL in the preseason and has had to deal with numerous injuries to the offense over the course of the season. Sunday’s game against the Bills was a perfect example. Chris Hogan, Rex Burkhead and James White were all out with injuries, so Brady was throwing to Brandin Cooks, Rob Gronkowski, Dion Lewis, Dwayne Allen, Jacob Hollister, Phillip Dorsett and Kenny Britt.

If this were any other quarterback, it wouldn’t even be a debate, but because Brady has already won the award twice and is the greatest quarterback to ever play the game, people are desperately trying to make cases for someone other than Brady. It also likely doesn’t help his cause that he plays for the Patriots.

About a month ago it was Carson Wentz in the discussion with Brady, then he tore his ACL and was lost for the year. Two weeks ago it was Antonio Brown, but he injured his calf and the Steelers lost to the Patriots. Now, it is Rams running back Todd Gurley.

There is no denying Gurley is having a terrific season. He leads the league in rushing with 1,305 yards, but only by a few yards over Kareem Hunt and Le’Veon Bell. His 13 touchdowns are also the most among running backs, but he’s also fumbled five times, also the most among running backs. It’s also worth noting he leads the NFL in receiving yards by a running back, but do these stats make him the MVP?

In addition, it appears he will not be playing in Week 17 against the 49ers, as the Rams have already locked in their playoff seed.

Since 2007, only one non-quarterback has been named NFL MVP and that was Adrian Peterson in 2012. Peterson was incredible that season, rushing for over 2,000 yards and averaging 131.1 yards per game. That was truly a special season and deserving of the award. This year for Gurley? A very good year, but not historic.

Just because this isn’t one of Brady’s best seasons, it shouldn’t be held against him. The award is for the 2017 season and Brady’s year is clearly the best year among other NFL players. It isn’t his fault there have been so many injuries to star players and just not that many dominant individual seasons.

No one is saying he needs to be the unanimous choice, either. He just deserves the number of votes needed to win the award.

If you put the stat lines and team records next to the top performers in the league this year, but removed the names, there’s little doubt voters wouldn't select Brady. But, once Brady’s name is attached people start to get all worked up and make cases for other players.

Just like with games in the final weeks of the season, it's not worth overthinking things with this years MVP award. Brady should be winning the award for the third time in his career.

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