The NFL has hit the season’s midway point, and the Philadelphia Eales, with their 6-1 record, are the best team. But who is the best player?
That’s the subject of our Talk of Fame Network poll this week – who is the NFL’s mid-season MVP? The Associated Press has handed out the NFL MVP award every year since 1961, and of the 58 winners, 39 have been quarterbacks.
At mid-season, has the MVP been another quarterback? Tom Brady? Carson Wentz? Alex Smith? Sixteen running backs have been the NFL MVP. At mid-season, has the best player a running back? Kareem Hunt? Le’Veon Bell? Todd Gurley? Leonard Fournette? Or has he been that rare defensive player? Everson Griffin? Only two defenders have ever won the award. Here are your choices:
Le’Veon Bell, HB, Pittsburgh. The most complete back in the game today, Bell has an NFL-runnerup 760 rushing yards and also ranks second on the Steelers in receiving with 35 catches. He has carried the ball 30-plus times in three games for the AFC North-leading Steelers, and Pittsburgh has won them all -- with Bell ripping Kansas City for 179 yards, Baltimore for 144 and Cincinnati for 134. Bell also had a 10-reception game against Jacksonville.
Tom Brady, QB, New England. Age hasn’t slowed down Brady. At 40, he leads the NFL with 2,541 passing yards with 16 touchdowns and two interceptions for the AFC East-leading Patriots. Brady threw for 447 yards in a game against New Orleans and also has 300-yard passing games against Houston, Carolina, Tampa Bay and the Los Angeles Chargers. He averages a league-runnerup 8.2 yards per pass attempt, and his 16 TD passes have averaged 16.8 yards.
Leonard Fournette, HB, Jacksonville. The fourth overall pick of the NFL draft, Fournette has given the Jaguars exactly what they wanted – rushing yards and a ball-control element to take the pressure off quarterback Blake Bortles. He debuted with 100 yards rushing and a touchdown against Houston and then became the only player in the NFL to score a touchdown in each of his team’s first six games of the season for the AFC South-leading Jaguars. He also had a 181-yard rushing game against the Steelers and a 130-yard game against the Rams, with TD runs of 90 yards versus Pittsburgh and 75 against LA.
Everson Griffen, DE, Minnesota. The Vikings are without their starting quarterback and starting running back but sit atop the NFC North because they are playing defense at a championship level. Heading up the effort is their Pro Bowl defensive end Everson Griffen, who has an NFL runnerup 10 sacks and two forced fumbles. The Vikings have allowed the third-fewest yards in the league and the fifth-fewest points and also have the sixth-most sacks. Minnesota has held its last six opponents to 17 points or less.
Todd Gurley, HB, LA Rams. If Bell isn’t the most complete back in the game today, Gurley is. He ranks fifth in the NFL in rushing with 627 yards and five touchdowns for the resurgent Rams and also has 27 catches for three more scores. He blasted Dallas for 121 yards rushing on the road and added a 53-yard TD reception in that game. He also has had 100-yard games against San Francisco, Jacksonville and Arizona for the NFC West-leading Rams.
Kareem Hunt, HB, Kansas City. One of the NFL’s best surprises. A third-round pick out of Toledo, Hunt found himself in the starting lineup after the incumbent halfback, Spencer Ware, went down in the preseason with torn knee ligaments. Hunt debuted with 148 rushing yards and a touchdown, plus 98 receiving yards and two more scores in Kansas City’s shocking opening-day upset of the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots – and he’s been on a roll ever since. He leads the NFL with 763 rushing yards and also has had 100-yard games against Houston, Washington and the Los Angeles Chargers.
Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City. Leads the NFL in passing efficiency for the AFC West-leading Chiefs. Smith has played eight games and thrown 259 passes without tossing an interception – the only primary starting quarterback in the league still without one. He has 300-yard passing games against New England, Houston and Oakland. He is completing a league-best 69.1 percent of his passes and averages a league-best 8.4 yards per attempt. His 16 TD passes have averaged 29.7 yards.
Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia. There’s no sophomore slump for Wentz. He ranks third in the NFL with 2,063 passing yards and has thrown for a league-best 19 touchdowns, including four-TD games against Arizona and Washington. He also has had 300-yard passing games against Washington, Kansas City and Carolina for the NFC East-leading Eagles. Wentz averages 7.8 yards per attempt with only five interceptions. He has five TD passes of 50 yards or more, and his 19 TDs have averaged 22.8 yards.