NFL MVP stock watch, Week 3: Where do Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes rank entering showdown?

Monday night’s matchup between the Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs is the first meeting between two former NFL Most Valuable Players who are 25 or younger, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Their budding rivalry could define the next decade of the league.


But where do the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson and the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes rank in this season’s MVP race? Here’s a look at who’s trending up through the first three weeks:

1. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson


There’s a clear front-runner. Wilson has 14 touchdown passes after throwing five more in Sunday’s 38-31 win over the Dallas Cowboys, the most over the first three games in NFL history. He’s also the first quarterback in NFL history to throw four or more touchdown passes in each of his team’s first three games. Wilson’s expected points added (EPA) per play, which accounts for factors such as down, distance to go, field position, home-field advantage and time remaining, is the highest in the league (0.456). The Seahawks are 3-0, and if Wilson continues to put up these kinds of passing performances every week while leading Seattle to the top seed in the NFC, it’s his award to lose.

2. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers threw for 283 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-30 win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night, and he did it without star receiver Davante Adams. The 36-year-old veteran and two-time MVP has nine touchdown passes, third most in the league, and the Packers have scored 122 points so far this season, the most in team history through three games. After Green Bay drafted his potential successor, Jordan Love, in the first round and used a second-round pick on a running back, A.J. Dillon, who didn’t get any carries Sunday night, Rodgers is getting the most out of a skills group that ESPN ranked 19th heading into the season.

3. Bills QB Josh Allen

The Bills blew a 25-point lead in the second half against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday before Allen marched them downfield in the final minute, throwing a 3-yard touchdown pass with 15 seconds remaining for a 35-32 win. He had four touchdown passes for the second consecutive week and has completed 70.4% of his attempts this season after hitting on just 56.3% in his first two years. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs has unlocked Allen’s deep-passing ability, and the third-year quarterback continues to be a running threat (76 yards and one touchdown). As long as Buffalo (3-0) is in contention for a top seed in the AFC, Allen will receive MVP buzz.

4. Ravens QB Lamar Jackson

Jackson impressed as a dual-threat star in winning last season’s MVP, breaking Michael Vick’s single-season quarterback rushing record and leading the league in passing touchdowns. This year, his dominance as a pocket passer is what sets him apart. Through two weeks, Jackson is completing 77.6% of his attempts and has thrown a touchdown pass on 8.2% of his throws, just shy of last season’s league-leading mark of 9%. His completion percentage over expectation — roughly defined as how accurate a quarterback is compared to an average passer making similar throws — is 12.2%, according to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, the highest in the league. That includes improved accuracy on deep passes (7-for-12, 58.3%), according to Pro-Football-Reference. Of course, he’s still a dynamic runner, rushing for 99 yards and six first downs through two games.

5. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes

The Chiefs are 2-0 and winners in 11 straight games thanks to yet another Mahomes-led comeback in Week 2 against the Los Angeles Chargers. But the reigning Super Bowl MVP has fallen short so far of his own lofty standards. While he has thrown five touchdown passes and no interceptions, he’s averaged the second-fewest air yards per attempt (6.1), ahead of only Drew Brees, and his CPOE is minus-1.8%. His EPA per play of 0.258 ranked 10th in the league entering Week 3, behind Jimmy Garoppolo, Derek Carr and Ryan Tannehill. A big performance Monday night will vault Mahomes to the top of the race, but he hasn’t been his usual dominant self in September.

In the running

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott

Prescott rallied the Cowboys from another double-digit deficit in the second half Sunday, but his interception on the final drive sealed the defeat. He still finished with 472 passing yards and three touchdowns, giving him 1,188 yards and five touchdowns through three games. However, he ranks just 15th in EPA per play, and Dallas is fortunate to be 1-2 after a miracle comeback over the Atlanta Falcons. His offensive line hasn’t done Prescott any favors, but his gaudy numbers won’t be enough if the team doesn’t win.

Titans QB Ryan Tannehill


After being one of the league’s most statistically impressive quarterbacks in the second half of last season, many expected Tannehill to regress in 2020. All he’s done through three games is throw for 809 yards with six touchdown passes and one interception while leading the Titans to a 3-0 start. His CPOE of 5.6% ranks 12th in the league, and he’s ninth in EPA per play.

Patriots QB Cam Newton

The fact that New England signed Newton for just $1.75 million and $550,000 guaranteed this offseason can’t be talked about enough. Through three games, he’s completed 68.1% of his passes for 714 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. That won’t blow anyone away, but Newton’s also rushed for 122 yards and four touchdowns, the most by any quarterback, and the Patriots are 2-1.

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray

Murray’s three interceptions in Sunday’s 26-23 loss to the Detroit Lions hurts his candidacy, but he’s still been one of the most dynamic playmakers in the league. The 2019 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year has done plenty of damage on the ground, rushing for 158 yards and three touchdowns. Murray’s case depends on the Cardinals (2-1) staying in contention for the NFC West title or a wild-card spot in the playoffs.

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