There was one unforgettable moment from Week 10 of the NFL season, and it might be at the top of the highlight reel for the league’s next Most Valuable Player.
Here’s who’s trending up in the race for MVP through Week 10:
1. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (last week: No. 1)
It was a week off for Mahomes and the Chiefs (8-1), who sit a game behind the undefeated Steelers for the top seed in the AFC. This Sunday, they get a chance at redemption against the only team that has beaten them this season, the Las Vegas Raiders, and Mahomes will be gunning for NFL history. Only Drew Brees has thrown more touchdown passes (26 in 2018) before his second interception to begin a season than Mahomes, who has 25 touchdown passes and just one pick through nine games. With marquee games coming up against the Raiders, Buccaneers and Saints and a prime-time matchup against the Broncos in Week 13, the 2018 MVP has a chance to lock up the award before Christmas.
2. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (last week: No. 2)
Rodgers and the Packers (7-2) had to sweat out a 24-20 win over the Jaguars, but the 36-year-old did his part, throwing for 325 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, just his third pick of the season. He’s already thrown more touchdown passes than he did in 2019, and he’s on pace for his highest passer rating (116.4) since his first MVP season in 2011. Perhaps it’s because his work inside opponents' territory has been masterful. According to NFL analyst Ben Fennell, Rodgers' 123.4 passer rating and 71.4% completion rate inside the 30-yard line rank first in the NFL. While Russell Wilson has seven turnovers in his past eight quarters, Rodgers has seven in his past 50. He and Mahomes are the clear top two in this race.
3. Cardinals QB Kyler Murray (last week: No. 5)
Maybe this is an overreaction to Sunday’s “Hail Murray” in the Cardinals' stunning 32-30 win over the Bills, but there are plenty of reasons the 2019 No. 1 overall pick deserves to be in the MVP conversation. As was the case for the Ravens' Lamar Jackson in his MVP season, Murray’s rushing ability makes him one of the league’s most productive players. He became the first quarterback in NFL history to have a passing and rushing touchdown in five consecutive games, and the first since 1950 to have at least 10 rushing touchdowns in his first 10 games of a season. He’s on pace for 5,295 total yards and 48 total touchdowns this season, and the Cardinals (6-3) are in contention for their first division title since 2015. Even if he doesn’t win, the 23-year-old has proved to be a force to be reckoned with.
4. Bills QB Josh Allen (last week: No. 4)
Before Murray’s Hail Mary, it looked like it was going to be Allen’s moment to shine Sunday after he threw the go-ahead touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs with 34 seconds left. The game was a microcosm of the Allen experience, with the 24-year-old throwing for 284 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, rushing for 38 yards and catching a touchdown pass on a trick play. He’s still among the top quarterbacks in expected points added and completion percentage over expectation while ranking fifth in QBR (78.4). If the Bills (7-3) can string some wins together and win the AFC East for the first time since 1995 — one year before Allen was born — he’ll have a solid claim to the award.
5. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (last week: No. 3)
The wheels have fallen off Wilson’s MVP campaign. After a dominant start, the Seahawks star has thrown seven interceptions in his past three games, with two coming Sunday in a 23-16 loss to the Rams. Including a fumble Sunday, he has turned the ball over at least three times in back-to-back games for the first time in his NFL career. He was held without a touchdown pass Sunday for just the 17th time in his career, and five of those games have come against Los Angeles. The Seahawks (6-3) are suddenly jockeying with the Rams and Cardinals for the NFC West title after a 5-0 start, setting up a huge game Thursday night against Murray and Arizona.
In the running
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger
Roethlisberger’s play might not be pretty, but he’s piling up stats for the league’s last unbeaten team. With 333 yards and four touchdowns in Sunday’s 36-10 win over the Bengals, he has 22 touchdown passes to just four interceptions this season, and has led three game-winning drives. He’s going to need the top five candidates to regress, but he has a puncher’s chance considering Pittsburgh’s success.
Buccaneers QB Tom Brady
After his worst outing of the season in a blowout loss to the Saints, Brady responded with one of his best. The 43-year-old threw for 341 yards and three touchdowns in a 46-23 win over the Panthers, and perhaps most importantly, he got all his top targets involved. Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski all had more than 50 receiving yards, showing just how dangerous the Bucs offense can be at full strength. If Brady settles into a rhythm with this group of receivers, he could put up the best numbers of his storied career.
Raiders QB Derek Carr
Carr is the only quarterback who can say that he beat Mahomes head-to-head this season, and his Raiders are 6-3 and in the wild-card hunt. He’s been efficient, throwing 16 touchdown passes to just two interceptions while ranking fifth in EPA+CPOE composite and ninth in QBR (75.5), but the volume hasn’t been there. He’s passed for fewer than 166 yards in each of the past three games.
Titans QB Ryan Tannehill
Tannehill remains a long shot, but there’s a path to MVP contention. If Tennessee (6-3) can knock off the Ravens, Colts and Browns the next three weeks and claim the top spot in the AFC South with Tannehill operating at his usual efficient self, why shouldn’t he be considered? He’s got 20 touchdown passes, three interceptions and four game-winning drives this season.