NFL

NFL MVP contenders after Week 6: Brady, Prescott, Murray...

With six rounds of games now played in the 2021 NFL season, we take a look at the five players who are leading the running for the MVP Award.

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NFL MVP contenders after Week 6: Tom Brady, Dak Prescott, Kyler Murray...
Mitchell Leff AFP

Doing an MVP watch and leaving Patrick Mahomes off your list of contenders might sound like madness, but it really isn’t. The Kansas City Chiefs star might be a touchdown-pass machine, but he’s also giving up his fair share of interceptions.

Against the Washington Football Team on Sunday, Mahomes completed 32 of 47 passes, throwing for 397 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. On one, the ball bounced off Tyreek Hill’s hands, but on the other, the Chiefs quarterback threw a horrendous effort that gifted possession back to Washington, with his team well placed to score points in the final seconds of the first half.

The Chiefs won 31-13 and improved their record to 3-3, but Andy Reid’s men were still far from their best, and that includes their star QB.

Mahomes alongside rookies in NFL interceptions charts

Mahomes leads the NFL with 18 touchdown passes, but has also given away eight interceptions, the same as rookie Trevor Lawrence and almost as many as Zach Wilson, also in his first year in the league, who has an NFL-high nine to his name.

Kansas City have beaten the Cleveland Browns (3-3), the Philadelphia Eagles (2-4) and Washington (2-4), and have lost to the Baltimore Ravens (5-1), the LA Chargers (4-2) and the Buffalo Bills (4-2), the best teams in the AFC.

The five players leading the race for the NFL MVP Award are:

1. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals, quarterback

Murray tore apart the Browns’ defence with four touchdown passes, to take his overall total for the season to 14 and lead Arizona to a sixth win out of six this term. The Cardinals haven’t been at 6-0 since back in 1974, when they still played in St Louis and won the NFC East division with a 10-4 record.

Murray’s pass-completion rate of 73.8% is unmatched in the NFL this season, while his passer rating of 116.2 puts him third in the league.

2. Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, quarterback

Brady leads the passing-yards charts with 2,064 and has the second-most touchdown passes in the league, 17.

The 44-year-old is showing few signs that time is catching up with him, and the stats back that up: since he turned 40, ahead of the 2017 season, ‘TB12’ has averaged 31.2 TD passes per campaign.

If Brady maintains his current rate, he’ll end 2021 with 51 and beat his record of 50, set back in 2007.

3. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys, quarterback

Prescott is pulling the strings in the Cowboys’ offence masterfully, bringing the best out of all the weapons Dallas have at their disposal. in Foxborough on Sunday, for example, it was CeeDee Lamb who caught nine passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns, including the winning TD in overtime.

Dak is second in the league with a 73.1% completion rate, third with 16 touchdown passes and fourth with a 115.0 passer rating.

4. Matthew Stafford, LA Rams, quarterback

With another four touchdown passes on Sunday against the New York Giants, Stafford took his season tally to 16, level with Prescott in third in the NFL.

His average of 9.19 yards per pass is the second best in the league, as is his passer rating of 116.6.

What’s more, Stafford is the best fourth-quarter passer in the NFL this season, with a 77.1% completion rate for 314 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions and a 141.8 passer rating.

5. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans, running back

Henry ran for 143 yards and three touchdowns in the Titans’ win over the Buffalo Bills on Monday.

It was the fifth straight game in which he had managed more than 100 yards, the longest such streak in his career and the joint-fourth longest in the history of his franchise.

The last NFL player with 100 rushing yards in as many consecutive games was DeMarco Murray, who put together a sequence of eight 100-yard matches in 2014.

Henry leads the NFL with 783 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.