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NFL MVP, ROY and awards rankings: Could Drew Brees' lack of an MVP factor in the race?

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It would be strange to look back on Drew Brees’ unbelievable career and notice that he never won an MVP award.

Maybe voters will want to change that this season.

There’s a great argument to be made for the New Orleans Saints star on his numbers this season alone, but you have to wonder how much of a bump Brees’ career and the lack of an MVP will play into the race. A lifetime achievement award, in small part at least. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is in his first full year as a starter. He’ll have plenty more opportunities to win.

A great case could be made for either (and for Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley, but as more than two decades of voting shows, he’ll have to break the touchdown record or rush for 2,000 yards to have a chance). Here are the 16-game paces for each so far:

Brees: 4,624 yards, 37.3 touchdowns, 1.8 interceptions, 77.3 completion percentage, 123.8 passer rating
Mahomes: 5,040 yards, 49.6 touchdowns, 11.2 interceptions, 67 completion percentage, 117.4 passer rating

How good have they been? If the season ended today, Brees and Mahomes would rank first and fifth all-time in single-season passer rating. Brees’ completion percentage would be an NFL record. Mahomes is vying to be just the third player to throw for 50 touchdowns in a season, and the other two are Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Brees and Mahomes are leading arguably the two best teams in the NFL; the Saints and Chiefs have just one loss each.

It’s unfair to compare Mahomes’ completion percentage to Brees. Mahomes is asked to throw downfield more often (his average intended air yards is 8.9, among the league leaders according to NFL Next Gen Stats, while Brees is second-to-last at 6.6). It’s unfair to compare Brees’ volume to Mahomes. The Saints are perfectly capable of beating the Ravens when Brees throws for 212 yards, or beating the Vikings when Brees has just 120. Brees has had fantastic seasons in which he was the Saints’ only hope and they’ve finished 7-9; surely he’s fine not having to do all the heavy lifting on an 8-1 team.

The tiebreaker might be that this could be Brees’ last great shot to get an MVP. He should have won in 2009, but Peyton Manning had the momentum and beat him. There are plenty of other seasons in which Brees was amazing but the Saints weren’t, and voters aren’t giving MVP to someone on a losing team.

This seems to be the right time. It’s not like it would be just for an amazing career; Brees is having an MVP-caliber season. Better than Mahomes? We’ll find out.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) is one of the MVP favorites after 10 weeks. (AP)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is one of the MVP favorites after 10 weeks. (AP)

Here are the MVP standings for this week:

1. Mahomes — I’ve been riding for Mahomes all season and will continue to do so. His pace has slipped just a bit, but he’s been the best player I’ve seen this season. If he has 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns for the No. 1 seed in the AFC by the end, it will be tough to deny him. Since the NFL world will be watching Chiefs at Rams on Monday night, that seems like a tipping point in the Brees vs. Mahomes debate.

2. Brees — Brees’ efficiency is startling and yes, it’s hard to believe someone could set a single-season record for passer rating and not win MVP. However, it’s also had to imagine someone throwing for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns and not winning. I’d say this: If there’s one player who might struggle a little more than the other the rest of the way, it’s probably the first-time starter who will play his home games in some bad weather down the stretch.

3. Gurley — Gurley is on pace for 2,224 yards from scrimmage and 27.2 touchdowns. He has scored in every game for the Rams, the third one-loss team left in the NFL. Yet, the recent conversation has turned this into a two-man MVP race. The bar is set way too high for non-quarterbacks.

4. Los Angeles Chargers QB Philip Rivers — Another great quarterback who has never won an MVP, and Rivers seems unlikely to win one. However, there’s a path to him getting in the race, and it’s winning the AFC West. The Chargers would likely have to win at Kansas City on a Thursday night in a few weeks to do that, but that’s not impossible. If Rivers has a big game in a win over the Chiefs and the Chargers end up as the No. 1 seed, he’ll have to get consideration.

5. Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck — We all know Luck won’t win unless the Colts win a ton of games down the stretch. And perhaps I’m being hooked into the comeback story. But hey, the comeback story is amazing. Luck has 26 touchdowns, five more than anyone else other than Mahomes, and he’s doing it with a roster I think is better than expected, but nowhere near elite.

Defensive Player of the Year: I’ve heard analysts say that if opponents can block Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, they can move the ball against the Rams’ secondary. Technically, that’s true. It’s also like saying, if teams can stop Stephen Curry from shooting 3-pointers, they have a better chance of beating the Golden State Warriors.

The ballot:

1. Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald
2. Chicago Bears DE Khalil Mack
3. Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt

Coach of the Year: Since I have the Chiefs as my No. 1 team I’ll stick with Andy Reid here. However, if the Chicago Bears win Sunday night and take control of the NFC North, Matt Nagy will have a compelling case. Coach of the Year rarely goes to the best coach but the one whose team most exceeds preseason expectations. If the Bears win the division, Nagy is probably going to win the award.

The ballot:

1. Reid
2. New Orleans Saints’ Sean Payton
3. Los Angeles Rams’ Sean McVay

Offensive Rookie of the Year: It’s Saquon Barkley. Next.

1. New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley
2. Indianapolis Colts G Quenton Nelson
3. Cleveland Browns RB Nick Chubb

Defensive Rookie of the Year: I keep going back and forth on Colts linebacker Darius Leonard and Chargers safety Derwin James. Leonard has been fantastic for a Colts defense that desperately needed a star. But James impacts the game in more ways. And it’s not like Denver Broncos pass rusher Bradley Chubb, who has eight sacks, doesn’t have an argument. Fun race.

1. James
2. Leonard
3. Chubb

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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