NFL MVP is a two-man race between Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts, and one should be the frontrunner

The NFL season is winding down and there are enough data points now to make projections about what’s going to happen once the regular season ends in a few weeks. That includes the race for the most valuable player award, which appears to have been whittled down to two players for the final sprint of the season. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, once again, has played himself into MVP consideration and is one of the leaders. There’s a new combatant in the ring this year challenging Mahomes as NFL MVP: Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts.

Both quarterbacks absolutely have merit to their MVP cases, but it’s worth examining the meteoric rise of Hurts that got him into this position. Not even a full calendar year ago, after a rough playoff loss at the hands of the Buccaneers, there was a legitimate question on whether or not a consistently productive passing game could be built around Hurts. Well, that question has been put to bed this season. Hurts has improved his ability to throw from the pocket, the Eagles have two stud receivers in Devonta Smith and A.J. Brown, and head coach Nick Siranni has done a great job installing a passing game that works for a unique quarterback like Hurts.

Pair that with all of the work that Hurts does on the ground, and it’s easy to see how the Eagles rapidly found themselves with MVP-quality production from a player who had a murky future very recently. This is a far cry from the offense that sputtered at times during the 2021 season. The Eagles have an offense that’s capable of scoring on anyone and when they play a team that’s still trying to figure things out like the New York Giants, they can put up Madden numbers. The offense is almost entirely built around Hurts, and his skills have allowed the Eagles to be an elite offensive team — that is a very worthy case for MVP. According to Ben Baldwin of The Athletic, Hurts ranks third in expected points added per dropback (0.242) and second in completion percentage over expectation (+3.7%).

Jalen Hurts (1) has entered the NFL MVP race this season and led the Eagles to a 12-1 record. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Jalen Hurts (1) has entered the NFL MVP race this season and led the Eagles to a 12-1 record. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

As far as Mahomes goes, this season has been nothing short of incredible. There were questions about how the Chiefs offense would perform without the services of Tyreek Hill, but things tend to be OK with the top quarterback in the league. Mahomes has been sensational, continuing his usual reign over the NFL and slicing through defenses with ease. Having someone as historically good as Travis Kelce definitely helps, but Mahomes has ascended to a place where just about anyone could be around him and the Chiefs would move the ball. Hurts is a new challenger to Mahomes’ throne, but Mahomes is absolutely still the standard when it comes to quarterback play in the NFL.

Mahomes has entered an area that very few players across all American sports have. As long as Mahomes is healthy there will be a reasonable argument for him to win the MVP trophy just about every season, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he will. Still, this year he has certainly put together a campaign worthy of being a frontrunner for this award. According to Pro Football Reference, Mahomes is on pace for 5,440 passing yards, 43 passing touchdowns and 14 interceptions. That’ll do. Keeping up that level of performance over a large number of passing attempts without the former top target on the team is unreal.

Either one of these quarterbacks has done enough this season to be worthy of this award and it’s not a coincidence that both of these teams are firmly in Super Bowl contention. This feels like a changing of the guard a bit in the NFL as well. Mahomes, who just turned 27 at the start of the season, is already the future for NFL quarterbacks and Hurts is gunning for his spot this year in just his second full season as the starter. Appreciate the young talent that’s currently on display ripping through the NFL.