Christian McCaffrey's team might not be any good, but the 23-year-old running back has quietly become a legitimate MVP candidate over the past few weeks. In the process, he's separated himself as the NFL's best running back.
Yes, you read that right, the Carolina Panthers have an MVP contender not named Cam Newton. McCaffrey is looking increasingly like the back who dominated college football at Stanford before being selected with the eighth pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
On Sunday, McCaffrey had a breakout game, racking up 176 yards on the ground, 61 receiving yards and three total touchdowns. That despite Jacksonville's "talented" defense knowing he was the Panthers primary offensive weapon.
The following 84-yard sprint to the end zone from Sunday was a thing of beauty:
And watch him absolutely abuse Myles Jack in coverage on a gorgeous route, then catch the ball and blaze right into the end zone here:
McCaffrey broke out in 2018, rushing for 1,098 yards on 219 carries (5.0 yards per carry), and adding 867 yards 107 receptions. Combined, he had 13 touchdowns and was a bright spot in an otherwise abysmal season for the Panthers.
McCaffrey has picked up right where he left off last season. Entering Week 5, he was leading the NFL in rushing while averaging 4.8 yards per carry and ranked in the top 10 in receptions. He blew those numbers up on Sunday averaging 9.3 yards on 19 carries, while also catching six more passes. On the season he's up to 587 rushing yards on 105 carries (5.6 yards per carry), and 31 receptions for 279 yards. He's also up to seven total touchdowns on the year.
McCaffrey is a true multi-dimensional threat out of the backfield and is an absolute game-changing talent. The guy is so good that half of Carolina's plays use him as a decoy.
While running backs have been severely devalued in the NFL these days, McCaffrey's ability make him incredibly difficult to overlook. Winning quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes will always be the leaders when it comes to the MVP conversation, but even on a bad Panthers team, McCaffrey deserves consideration.