The Week 9 slate of NFL games looked straightforward before the games began. Now it's Tuesday and we can start to process the harsh reminder those games brought that professional football really is about Any Given Sunday. Out of the 14 games played, the underdog emerged victorious in six of them. The Jacksonville Jaguars taking down the Buffalo Bills was easily the biggest upset of the season to date. The Denver Broncos completely shut out the Dallas Cowboys' offense, heralded as one of the league's best, for three quarters.
It was a strange week. Not a lot will change in the big picture for the favorites that lost in Week 9-- the Bills are, in fact, still good after losing to Urban Meyer and the Cowboys are not going to miss the playoffs because they got blitzed by Denver. There wasn't really a game we could point to as a team getting exposed. Things just got weird, as they are apt to do.
But the most resonating impact from last week is that the MVP race is in total shambles after only half a season. Below you'll find the 10 preseason favorites to take home MVP this year, in order:
Josh Allen (the quarterback)
Of those 10, three lost in brutal and embarrassing fashion. Allen got shut down by one of the league's worst teams, Prescott got pushed around by a Broncos defense that just lost it's best player, and Stafford looked like the Lions version of himself rather than the Rams version that has captained the NFL's best offense to this point. Wilson and Murray are both hurt. Aaron Rodgers has COVID and might miss next week after last week's absence. Mahomes isn't winning any hardware this year as he trudges through the worst season of his career so far.
And those are just the preseason favorites! The midseason favorite to win, Derrick Henry, was declared out for the year a week ago.
The leaders in the clubhouse at this point are Brady and Lamar Jackson, but neither have a bulletproof case. Brady played out of his mind to start the season but slowed down after the first month and did not play like an MVP in the Bucs' Week 8 loss to the Saints, throwing a game-ending pick-six with a chance to take the lead. Jackson is absolutely the most valuable player in the league to this point; the Ravens are so banged up across the board that they'd be at the bottom of the standings without his wizardry. But as we know, team success plays a big role in voting, and it is a legitimate question as to whether the Ravens can win enough despite their injuries to keep Jackson in contention.
Which really just leaves Brady. Again. If Rodgers manages to test negative and play in next Sunday's affair against the Seahawks (and plays well), he'll continue to make a case. But his whole Pat McAfee appearance might be a problem. It won't, or at least shouldn't, affect his MVP candidacy but the negative narrative surrounding the star quarterback may have impact beyond the realm of public perception. We'll just have to see there.
Last week was a wild week, both in terms of on-field results and off-field news. It leaves the MVP race an utter mess. Nobody is definitively the MVP right now. That isn't often the case when half the games have been played. Someone will emerge from the pack in the last nine weeks-- but right now, it's truly anybody's guess who that will be.