Before Thursday night, Saints quarterback Drew Brees had become the odds-on favorite to win his first ever NFL MVP award. After Thursday night, it’s slightly more complicated.
Brees had a rough game in a big spot, capped with a head-scratching interception that came on a drive that still could have resulted in the team’s eleventh win of the season.
He completed 18 of 28 passes for only 127 yards, an average of 4.5 yards per attempt. Throw in one touchdown pass and one pick, and Brees had a passer rating of 71.6, his lowest in nearly two years.
Given that the decidedly non-Brees performance from Brees came in front of the biggest audience in Thursday Night Football history, it definitely becomes a factor in the looming MVP vote. And it takes a chunk out of what recently seemed to be an inside-track candidacy for the future Hall of Famer who has never won the prize.
Apart from boosting the chances of guys like Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, and one or more of the Rams’ stars who merit consideration (Gurley, Goff, Donald), the Dallas win over the previously invincible Saints pushes Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott closer toward the fringes of the argument.
The topic came up last week, after Elliott’s 86-touches-in-12-day moved the Cowboys from 3-5 to 6-5. Then there’s the fact that Elliott convinced his teammates to treat each game as a “must” win, and they’ve responded.
Performance plus leadership equals value. Elliott, who had a quiet-for-him-but-still-impressive 136 yards from scrimmage last night, deserves consideration, especially if he and the Cowboys keep doing what they’ve been doing.
And here’s the inescapable reality. Even after the next 15 games are played over the balance of Week 13, a full 25 percent of the season will remain on the books. Which means that most if not all of the postseason awards will remain up for grabs.
Not that any of it matters to the candidates. The only postseason award any of them care about is the trophy that will be presented at the end of the game that will be played in Atlanta come early February.
But if Elliott, who curiously gets omitted when the Cowboys talk about contract extensions, could win the MVP award, that would be an important development for his financial future, in Dallas or elsewhere.