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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    The 2021-22 NFL season is over. While the real race for Super Bowl LVI is only heating up, now is a great time to look back on the regular season and its best players.

    The league’s Most Valuable Player will be crowned during the NFL Honors on Super Bowl Weekend. Here, we’ll take a look at the top candidates, the latest MVP odds and an early prediction for this year’s winner.

    The MVP award hasn’t been won by a non-quarterback since Adrian Peterson took the honor in 2012. However, we do have a couple of skill players in the mix this year. Los Angeles Rams wideout Cooper Kupp, who led the league in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, is among the favorites.

    Does Kupp have a realistic chance of claiming the award? Who else is in the mix? Let’s take a look.

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    Lon Horwedel/Associated Press

    Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers: 1-5

    Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 7-2

    Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams: 20-1

    Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals: 25-1

    Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts: 35-1

    Josh Allen, RB, Buffalo Bills: 65-1

    Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs: 65-1

    Matthew Stafford, QB, Los Angeles Rams: 100-1

    Derek Carr, QB, Las Vegas Raiders: 100-1

    Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals: 100-1

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    Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

    The NFL MVP award has largely become a quarterback award. As previously mentioned, it’s been nearly a decade since it went to any other position.

    We have three quarterbacks this year who truly seem deserving of MVP honors—Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers, Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Cincinnati Bengals’ Joe Burrow.

    Burrow made a late surge with his final two starts. During wins against the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs, Burrow threw for a combined 971 yards with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. He also led the league with a 70.4 percent completion rate.

    It wouldn’t be a complete shock to see Burrow walk away with the award this year.

    Brady had arguably the most prolific passing season of his career, leading the league with 719 attempts, 485 completions, 5,316 passing yards and 43 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. He wasn’t as efficient as some other quarterbacks in running for MVP, but he did finish with a solid 102.1 passer rating.

    Then, there’s Rodgers. He threw for 4,115 yards with 37 touchdowns, just four interceptions and a league-high passer rating of 111.9. He also went 13-3 as a starter and helped the Packers earn the NFC’s No. 1 seed before the final week of the season.

    As for Kupp, his 145 receptions, 1,947 receiving yards and 16 receiving touchdowns make for one impressive stat line. Don’t be surprised if he gets at least a couple of votes for his efforts.

    Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor led the league with 1,811 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns. It’s hard to completely discount Taylor, but if Derrick Henry couldn’t win MVP by topping the 2,000-yard mark, Taylor probably isn’t stealing the award this year.

    Taylor would have a much strong case if he had actually carried Indianapolis into the postseason.

    Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen and Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes aren’t complete dark horses, but it’s hard to envision either actually taking the crown this season. Neither played a mistake-free brand of ball this year (28 interceptions between them), and both were arguably more impressive during the 2020 season.

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    The MVP award often goes to the best player with the best story. Had Kupp broken Michael Thomas’ single-season receptions record (149) or Calvin Johnson’s receiving record (1,964 yards), then he would have a much bigger chance of ending the collective quarterback dominance we’ve seen in the MVP race.

    With Kupp falling short and Indianapolis missing the playoffs, we’re almost certainly going to see another quarterback named MVP in February.

    Burrow has a puncher’s chance because he does provide an entertaining tale. He’s young, he’s coming off a torn ACL, and he’s brought swagger to the downtrodden Bengals franchise. However, Burrow also tossed 14 interceptions, took a league-high 51 sacks and lost to teams like the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets.

    Expect Burrow to receive votes, but perhaps not enough to enter the two-man race between Rodgers and Brady.

    From a pure productions standpoint, it’s hard to argue with what Brady has accomplished—at 44 years old, no less. That itself makes for a great MVP-worthy storyline.

    “To me, it’s not even a close race,” Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians told reporters.

    However, Brady may have lost the award when he and the Buccaneers were shut out by the New Orleans Saints in Week 15. Rodgers had his own awful outing against New Orleans, but it came back in Week 1. Recency bias is a thing.

    Rodgers was also the more efficient passer, and he did help deliver a first-round bye to Green Bay. We also got a look at how valuable Rodgers is when he didn’t play against Kansas City in Week 9. Rodgers was on the reserve/COVID-19 list, Jordan Love got the start, and Green Bay lost 13-7.

    The award could easily go to Rodgers or Brady, and I wouldn’t be entirely shocked to see them receive equal votes. My guess, though, is that Rodgers narrowly edges out Brady for the win.

    Votes Prediction (50 total):

    Rodgers 20

    Brady 18

    Burrow 7

    Kupp 4

    Mahomes 1

    Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.


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