The NFL season is just three weeks old, but you can already spot the legitimate MVP candidates. A combination of statistical achievement, personal brand recognition, team success and award history have made early-season MVP candidates easy to spot.
Quarterbacks have won the last six NFL MVP awards and 11 of the last 12. The last player who wasn't a quarterback or running back to win the MVP was Lawrence Taylor in 1986. No wide receiver has ever won an MVP, but Mark Moseley won as a placekicker in 1982 and Alan Page won as a defensive tackle in 1971. The point is, a quarterback will win the MVP this season. Here are six quarterbacks on good teams who are in position to compete for the award when the season ends.
1. Patrick Mahomes
Mahomes is on pace for 6,373 passing yards and 52 touchdown passes. Payton Manning's all-time single-season records are 5,477 and 55. The Chiefs are 3-0 and will be one of the top two seeds in the AFC. If he continues anywhere near this pace, the only way he doesn't win MVP is if someone puts up another number - 16-0.
2. Tom Brady
This is the guy with the best shot to catch Mahomes. Brady has only thrown 7 touchdown passes and zero interceptions this season. He only has the 4th best Quarterback Rating and 8th most passing yards. His resume will be bolstered by the Patriots record which could possibly approach undefeated. It's going to be tough though. The Patriots have only averaged 12 wins a season since the last time Brady led New England to a 16-0 regular season.
3. Dak Prescott
Prescott is averaging 300 passing yards a game to go along with nine touchdown passes and he actually leads the league in Total QBR, holding a slight advantage over Mahomes. The Cowboys are 3-0 and if they finish with one of the top records in the league, Prescott will get all the Cowboys votes.
4. Russell Wilson
Wilson started the season with 7 touchdown passes and 2 rushing touchdowns. Seattle is only 2-1 right now, but if Seahawks can somehow overcome the 3-0 49ers and 3-0 Rams, then Wilson will have to continue to be awesome. If Wilson continues to be awesome, he'll get strong consideration.
5. Lamar Jackson
Jackson has seven touchdown passes, zero picks and one rushing TD while the Ravens are 2-1. Who knows how long he'll stay in contention-- his numbers are propped up by a monster Week 1. On top of that, winning the AFC North already looks completely unimpressive as the Steelers and Bengals are both 0-3 with little chance to get better and the Browns are a disappointment.
6. Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers has been fine this season with 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. He's only averaging 215 passing yards a game and completing just 61-percent of his passes, but the Packers are 3-0 and he's the face of the franchise and many ad campaigns so he gets the credit.
Non-QB Longshot: Dalvin Cook
The Vikings are 2-1 and Cook is on pace for 20 rushing touchdowns and exactly 2,000 rushing yards. If the Vikings win 13 games and Cook goes crazy and breaks Erick Dickerson's single-season rushing record, Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes retire to concentrate on their acting careers, and Bill Belichick mysteriously benches Tom Brady to prove a point that he will never tell anyone about, then Cook still probably won't win, but he'll at least have a case.