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NFL MVP Award: who's leading the race? Tom Brady, Dak Prescott...

With five weeks of the 2021 NFL season played, we take a look at the players shaping up as the likeliest contenders to win the MVP Award.

NFL MVP Award: who's leading the race? Tom Brady, Dak Prescott...
Richard RodriguezAFP

An MVP is the player who does the most with the least, right? Wrong. An MVP is the player who gets the most of what they have at their disposal and wins games with it.

Winning games is the name of the MVP game

An MVP needs to rack up the wins. Always.

Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers (twice), Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson are the NFL MVPs since 2013; in the season(s) they claimed the award, they had an average of 12.7 wins.

The only player who is ‘out of place’ on that list is Ryan, who ended up 11-5 in 2016, but he led the league with a 117.1 passer rating and the Atlanta Falcons put 540 points on the board, 71 more than the NFL’s second-highest scoring team.

None of them did more with less. All had enough talent around them to shine as quarterbacks.

Jackson starred on Monday, but must do that more often to vie for MVP

So far in 2021, there are five QBs who are playing at an exceptional level and whose teams are winning. Those are the two ingredients that will earn votes in the race for the MVP Award.

Jackson put in an incredible showing in the Baltimore Ravens' Monday Night Football win over the Indianapolis Colts, completing 86% of his passes and finishing up with 442 passing yards, 62 rushing yards, four touchdown passes and a passer rating of 140.5. However, he’s going to have to be more consistent to make it into this MVP watch, as those four TDs make up half of his total so far this season.

The five men leading the running for the 2021 NFL MVP Award:

1: Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Against the Miami Dolphins, a team he always enjoys facing, Brady threw for 411 yards and five touchdowns, to take his total TD passes this season to 15, behind only the Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes.

Brady leads the NFL on pass attempts (225), completed passes (149) and passing yards (1,767), and has the fifth-best passer rating, with 108.5.

Brady (left) celebrates with wide receiver Mike Evans after a touchdown in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' win over the Miami Dolphins.
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Brady (left) celebrates with wide receiver Mike Evans after a touchdown in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' win over the Miami Dolphins.Jonathan DyerUSA TODAY Sports

2: Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

Prescott is enjoying his best ever NFL season by far. On Sunday, he completed 68.8% of his passes and threw for 302 yards and three touchdowns, as the Dallas Cowboys beat the New York Giants to earn a fourth straight victory.

With a strong offence and a defence that looks better and better each week, Dallas are showing their Super Bowl credentials and, behind the Bucs, are establishing themselves as the second-best team in the NFC (sorry, Cardinals).

See also:

3: Justin Herbert, LA Chargers

In what was expected to be a defensive battle against the Cleveland Browns, Herbert threw for 398 yards and four touchdowns, including eye-catching 72 and 42-yard passes to Mike Williams.

What’s more, the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year ran for another touchdown in the Chargers’ 47-42 win over Cleveland.

Herbert and Prescott are tied in third place on 13 touchdowns.

4: Matthew Stafford, LA Rams

Although he only threw for one touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday, Stafford completed 67.7% of his passes and finished up with 365 yards in a win that the Rams needed if they were to avoid two straight defeats to division rivals.

What’s more, he did all that in spite of a hand injury.

Stafford is third in the league with 1,587 passing yards and his passer rating of 113.2 is bettered only by Russell Wilson (125.3) and Prescott (116.9).

5: Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

What Allen did on Sunday is exactly what MVPs do: if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.

In the Buffalo Bills’ triumph over the Chiefs, Allen played an almost perfect game, registering 315 passing yards, three touchdown passes, 56 rushing yards and running for another TD.

Led by Allen and Herbert, the Bills and the Chargers are at the centre of a changing of the guard in the American Football Conference; they’re the AFC’s two best teams.