Here’s my ranking of the top 10 MVP contenders:
Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals: Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph deserves a lot of credit for his work in improving Arizona on that side of the ball, but Murray is the biggest reason the Cardinals are 5-0. He is completing 75.2 percent of his passes and averaging 9.2 yards per attempt. He has 10 touchdown passes and three scoring runs and has been sacked only 10 times.
Murray is such a rare talent — he can dart out of the pocket to make defenders miss, and he also throws a great deep ball. He’s the early front-runner in the MVP discussion.
Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: It’s not difficult to see just how valuable Brady has been for the Bucs. Even in a season in which he was still getting used to a new team and a new offense, he led Tampa Bay to a Super Bowl victory. This season, he has gotten into a rhythm much more quickly.
The Bucs are 4-1, and Brady is the primary reason. The beauty in watching him is how quickly he gets rid of the football, taking advantage of the most talented skill-position group he has had in his career. Brady’s 66.2 percent completion rate is his best since 2017, and he has 15 touchdown passes against just two interceptions.
Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills: After a slow start, Allen has elevated his play and has the Bills looking like the best team in the AFC. On Sunday night, Allen outdueled Patrick Mahomes as Buffalo blew out the Chiefs in Kansas City. The fact that he could look better than Mahomes in a head-to-head matchup shows how much progress he has made over the past two years.
For the season, Allen has 12 touchdown passes against two interceptions. His deep-throwing ability was on full display against Kansas City, when he completed 15 passes for 315 yards. And he is so difficult for pass rushers to get on the ground — he has been sacked just five times.
Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys: A year after suffering a season-ending ankle injury, Prescott is back and playing better than ever. Surrounded by three talented wide receivers and two very good running backs, Prescott has the Cowboys at 4-1, and his play makes them a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
He’s completing 73.9 percent of his passes for 8.3 yards per attempt, with 13 touchdowns against just three interceptions.
Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens: Even more than in past seasons, Jackson is carrying this team. He was magnificent in Baltimore’s comeback win Monday night over the Colts, finishing with 442 yards and four touchdowns on 37-for-43 passing, adding another 62 yards on the ground. The Ravens are 4-1 despite having one of the worst injury situations in the league, and Jackson is the driving force.
He remains so elusive as a runner, but his 9.1 yards per pass attempt are considerably higher than he has posted in previous years. Two years after winning the MVP award, Jackson is back in the mix.
Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers: Herbert has been close to flawless during the Chargers’ 4-1 start, posting a 67.1 percent completion rate and 13 touchdowns to just three interceptions.
He went to Kansas City and beat the Chiefs last month, and on Sunday he carved up a very good Cleveland Browns defense for a comeback victory. He’s playing like one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in just his second season, and because of him and first-year coach Brandon Staley, the Chargers have a good chance to win the AFC West.
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs: I still consider Mahomes the most talented quarterback in the NFL, but this hasn’t been a good start. He has looked spectacular at times while throwing for 16 touchdowns, but he has tossed six interceptions in the past four games.
Mahomes certainly isn’t to blame for all of the Chiefs’ struggles during their 2-3 start. Their next three games (at Washington, at Tennessee, vs. the New York Giants) could provide an opportunity for him and the Chiefs to get back on track.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Los Angeles Rams: Stafford continues to justify the Rams’ big trade to get him. He is an upgrade over Jared Goff and has shown it every week. He has helped the Rams to a 4-1 start and is completing 68 percent of his throws with 12 touchdowns.
The only knock against him is that his deep ball accuracy has been spotty over the past two weeks, but he already has built a strong connection with wide receiver Cooper Kupp.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers: Last season’s MVP deserves consideration for the work he has done through five games, even accounting for Green Bay’s disastrous 38-3 loss to New Orleans in Week 1.
Rodgers remains one of the best passers in the game, and he has 10 touchdown throws in four games since that woeful opener. The Packers are again a Super Bowl contender, which simply wouldn’t have been the case if Rodgers hadn’t returned to Green Bay this year.
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans: It’s close to impossible to be an MVP candidate as a running back, which makes what Henry has done through five games all the more impressive. A year after rushing for 2,027 yards, he’s actually setting a better pace — 128 per game, compared with last season’s 126.7.
His yards-per-carry average is down as opposing defenses focus more on him, but his workload has been remarkable, and he already has seven touchdowns. He’s a huge reason the Titans are 3-2 and in the driver’s seat in the AFC South.