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By Alex Kuhn
Sports Editor 

Hear Me Out...NFL MVP debate and which NFL owner is going to be a team player


December 15, 2018


Drew Brees

After this Sunday the NFL regular season will be down to its final two weeks. Playoff spots are still up for grabs in both conferences and the way this season has gone, we're in for a wild finish. But the two NFL related things I want to talk about are the NFL MVP debate and one of the 32 owners stepping up and being a team player.

First, who is this year's NFL MVP? If I had a vote, my top five are at No. 5 Philip Rivers, No. 4 Khalil Mack, No. 3 Todd Gurley, No. 2 Drew Brees and No. 1 Blake Bortles (Kidding, obviously), No. 1 is Patrick Mahomes.

When it comes to MVP discussions, regardless of the sport, there's going to be a lot of nitpicking and some inconsistency in reasoning, but here's how I came about my rankings.

Rivers has quietly been putting up big numbers. He's thrown for more yards than Brees, 3,951 passing yards compared to 3,463 and they both have the same number of TDs 31 (I know Rivers has one more game under his belt having played Thursday night but unless Brees goes nuts by throwing for more than 488 yards against the Panthers, in Raleigh, N.C. Rivers is going to maintain his lead.) Even though Rivers was terrific on TNF, the nitpick is he has two to three games a year that makes you question if he's lost his touch. He's had one against Denver in Week 11 and after the big win over KC, I'm guessing a letdown game is coming next week.

What Mack has done this season is impressive and he absolutely should be in the MVP discussion. He's slowed down some, after his hot start to the season but that's been mostly due to injuries. The single most important thing Mack has done doesn't necessarily show in stats. He's changed the culture in Chicago and is responsible for transforming the Bears into a legit Super Bowl contender. He won't win the MVP but should be a lock for defensive player of the year.

Remember how I said MVP debates have inconsistencies? I know that Mack and company just beat Todd Gurley and the Rams, but I have Gurley edging out Mack by the slimmest of margins. Gurley is due for a four-touchdown game at some point during these last three games. Gurley is the reason the Rams are as terrifying as they are. When he's off or taken out of the game, the Rams really struggle and usually lose.

In the Rams two losses, Gurley, vs. Chicago had 58 yards from scrimmage and no TDs; vs. New Orleans he had 71 yards from scrimmage and one TD. As improved as QB Jared Goff has been, Gurley is the main driving force to the Rams success.

Speaking of the Saints I have Brees at No. 2 and I know he's had a renaissance season, rewritten the NFL record book and has the Saints in position to lock up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. But my nitpick with him, and it's the smallest of nits to pick, is does he terrify you in a game-winning scenario? I don't mean does he scare you, plenty of QBs can scare opposing fan bases, I mean terrifying in every sense of the word.

Say the Saints are trailing by five to the Rams and Brees has the ball with 90 seconds left. If you're a Rams fan and you're watching the game, are you nervously sitting or frantically pacing back and forth? I think it would be the former for Rams fans because while Brees can sling it, at this point in his career he's not terrifying. Rams fans would be nervous but deep down they know their team has the win. The Saints running backs are more terrifying than Brees is and that nitpick is mostly why I have him at No. 2.

Watching the TNF replay locked up the MVP debate for me, I get that we're three weeks from the season being officially finished and crazy stuff could happen, but Mahomes is playing at an unreal level. He's within reach of breaking both Peyton Manning's single-season records for most passing yards and passing touchdowns. He's like the Steph Curry of the NFL, he so ridiculously talented and makes it look so effortless. Like on TNF when he was in the process of being sacked by a Chargers defender, and as he's falling away he throws the ball on a rope to his receiver for a TD. The Chargers went for two because having the game come down to a 50/50 coin toss in overtime, were not good odds.

The Chiefs defense is absolute trash but Mahomes has been so great that it's only a weakness, rather than a crippling weakness. Mahomes has been so terrific he's pushed the other upcoming QBs like Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson and Jared Goff, who had the league all excited last season, down a notch or two. I still think Aaron Rodgers is the most terrifying QB in game-winning situations but Mahomes is making a push for that title. Mahomes has been absolutely amazing.

Now that the MVP talk is done with, quickly, I'll talk about why one of the 32 NFL owners needs to step up and be a team player.

By being a team player I mean someone has to sign Colin Kaepernick. It's time to end the blackballing and bury this thing once and for all. One of the bad teams like Washington, both New York teams, Detroit, Oakland, San Francisco, Atlanta or Jacksonville needs to sign him for the remainder of the season and let him fight for a roster spot during the offseason.

We've reached this annoying breaking point with the Kaepernick story, obviously, he's being blackballed. Washington signed Josh Johnson, a former Jon Gruden favorite, who played in his first game since 2011, just last Sunday.

The excuse that he'd be a distraction is out the window too. Because, again, Washington picked up Reuben Foster off of waivers after he had been released by the 49ers, for what felt like his 100th domestic violence accusation. The excuses are all dried up, the blackball needs to be lifted.

With Kaepernick signed we'd never have to hear about how Kaepernick would make this team or that team better from the Kaepernick-truthers. Even though in his last NFL season Kaepernick was painfully average, but that doesn't stop the Kaep-truthers from making it sound like he was a lock for Canton.

Sure, whoever decides to sign him will lose a group of fans, but they'll split the difference by picking up the Kaep-truthers. It doesn't matter who signs Kaepernick, the owners could draw straws or play musical chairs to decide, all that matters is that he's signed and this story never comes up again until ESPN does a "30 for 30" on the Kaepernick saga.


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