Hannable: Tom Brady won NFL’s MVP on Sunday

Ryan Hannable
December 19, 2017 - 9:43 am

Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports

Even though there are two weeks remaining in the regular season, Tom Brady is going to win his third career NFL MVP award.

This became a formality this past Sunday. 

Brady and the Patriots came from behind to beat the Steelers, 27-24, to gain control of the AFC. If they beat the Bills and Jets in the next two weeks, New England will be the AFC’s No. 1 seed in the postseason. The 40-year-old finished the game 22-for-35 with 298 yards along with a touchdown and an interception for a 87.6 quarterback rating. 

While the numbers aren’t the greatest, what people will remember most is Brady leading the Patriots down the field in the final two minutes to what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown and two-point conversion. 

“I think the emotions at the end of the game were not like any others we’ve had,” Brady said on Kirk & Callahan Monday morning. “To go from scoring there, like we did, and then they got the ball and went down the field. Then, obviously, that sequence at the end was pretty incredible. I'm just happy we won. It's a tough place to play. It took right until the end. They've been in quite a few of those games this year. We haven't been in quite as many at the very end like that. I'm glad we came away with the win. It was a big win for our team.”

It wasn’t so much Brady’s performance Sunday that likely earned him the MVP award, but what happened around the rest of the league. 

If Pittsburgh beat New England and Antonio Brown had a solid game, he had a good chance of winning the award, as he was on pace to have one of the best seasons a wide receiver has ever had and the Steelers likely would have been the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Instead, the Steelers lost the game and Brown suffered a calf injury that will keep him out the rest of the regular season. He no longer has a shot.

The MVP award has turned into basically the best player on the best team, which eliminates a lot of candidates -- although this year with all the season-ending injuries to some of the league’s stars, there weren’t as many candidates as in the past.

Two weeks ago the award was likely going to Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, as they had the best record in the league by a few games and he was performing at Brady’s level. Unfortunately, the quarterback tore his ACL last week against the Rams, thus eliminating him from consideration. 

Minnesota is the other top team in the NFC, but it doesn’t have any viable candidates. Other top players this year include Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, Jared Goff, Ben Roethlisberger, Blake Bortles and Case Keenum, but no one comes close to Brady.

Brady is ranked in the top five in all the major passing categories, including leading the league in passing yards. While it has nothing to do with winning the award, it’s worth noting the one knock on Brady’s game over the last several years has been his deep-ball and the quarterback has made it one of his strengths this season. According to Pro Football Focus, Brady leads the NFL with 32 completions on deep passes (traveling 20 or more yards in the air).

It isn’t like Brady isn’t deserving of winning the award, he’s just not having as strong of a year as he did the last time he won the award in 2010 when he was the first-ever unanimous selection.

If Brady does win MVP he will join Peyton Manning, Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas and Brett Favre as the only players in NFL history to win the award three or more times. He would also become the oldest player ever to win it.

Not only was Sunday a big day for the Patriots when it comes to getting homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, it was a big day for Brady when it comes to potentially winning his third career NFL MVP.