Reviewing the Last Ten NFL MVPs

Recently, I wrote an article about the formula I believed could narrow down the MVP candidates for next season before it even started based on the criteria established by all the previous winners, and it got me thinking. With their backwards logic, how many deserving MVPs have empty trophy cases? How often does the right guy get passed over for the right guy? So I looked over the last ten seasons and reviewed their most valuable players, comparing them to who I believed the most valuable player was. And this is what I found.

Reviewing the Last Ten NFL MVPs


Actual MVP- Peyton Manning
Deserving MVP- Kurt Warner

Peyton Manning had fewer passing yards than Jay Cutler in 2008, and yet he won league MVP. He didn’t have a bad season by any means, breaking 4,000 yards and throwing 27 touchdowns to only 12 interceptions, but it was far from the best or what we were used to from Manning.

Meanwhile, Kurt Warner threw for over 4,500 yards, 30 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions while leading the Arizona Cardinals to the playoffs. Taking the Cardinals to the playoffs should be MVP-worthy by itself, but with numbers like that? It’s criminal that Manning won MVP, especially considering what Warner and the Cardinals ended up doing in the playoffs. The Colts didn’t even win the AFC South that season.


Actual MVP- Peyton Manning
Deserving MVP- Peyton Manning

This Manning coronation was a little less egregious than the year before as the Colts could’ve, and probably should’ve gone 16-0 this season. They were crushing the rest of the NFL, and Manning basically threw for 4,500 yards and 33 touchdowns in 14 games. Drew Brees was a close, close second, but lazer-rocket arm commercial guy deserved the nod this time.


Actual MVP- Tom Brady
Deserving MVP- Tom Brady

Tom Brady was insanely efficient in 2010. He led the NFL in touchdown passes (36) while only throwing four interceptions, which was fewer than any other starting quarterback, while leading the New England Patriots to a 14-2 season. Open and shut case.


Actual MVP- Aaron Rodgers
Deserving MVP- Aaron Rodgers

I contemplated putting Drew Brees up here again, but remembering the rules, Aaron Rodgers easily got the nod. Firstly, his Packers went 15-1, and despite the fact that Green Bay didn’t have a run game to speak of, Rodgers threw for 4,600 yards, 45 touchdowns, and only six interceptions. The 2011 Green Bay Packers are one of the very best teams in NFL history that didn’t win a Super Bowl.


Actual MVP- Adrian Peterson
Deserving MVP- Adrian Peterson

In 2011, Adrian Peterson tore both his ACL and MCL, missing the rest of the season. The next year, he came nine yards short of Eric Dickerson‘s record for most rushing yards in a season, literally carrying Christian Ponder and the Minnesota Vikings to the playoffs. I don’t care what any pretty boy quarterback did that year, “All Day” gets the nod easily.


Actual MVP- Peyton Manning
Deserving MVP- Peyton Manning

In 2013, Peyton Manning set the records for most passing yards and passing touchdowns in a season, and he set them so high that they still stand here in 2019. It doesn’t really matter what anyone else did when someone’s having a season like that.


Actual MVP- Aaron Rodgers
Deserving MVP- J.J. Watt

This season actually inspired me to write this list, because it’s the worst case of quarterback bias I’ve ever seen. In 2014, Aaron Rodgers won the MVP despite the fact that he didn’t lead the NFL in passing yards, touchdowns, completion percentage, or yards per attempt. His Green Bay Packers weren’t even the number one seed, that honor goes to Russell Wilson‘s Seattle Seahawks. He did have a fantastic touchdown-to-interception ratio, but there was someone else who deserved it far more.

J.J. Watt had 20.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, an 80 yard pick six, 10 pass deflections, 29 tackles for a loss, 78 tackles, a safety, 51 quarterback hits, and three touchdown catches. This is probably the greatest season by a defender in NFL history, but the guy in Wisconsin who screens phone calls from his mom didn’t turn the ball over a lot so…


Actual MVP- Cam Newton
Deserving MVP- Cam Newton

Cam Newton didn’t have the best passing season by any means in 2015, but this was easily the best season in NFL history for a dual-threat quarterback. Nearly 4,500 all-purpose yards with 45 total touchdowns, all the while leading the Carolina Panthers to 15 wins? Forget about it. Too easy.


Actual MVP- Matt Ryan
Deserving MVP- Tom Brady

Look, I understand why Matt Ryan got the award, I really do. But what Tom Brady accomplished in 12 games is far more impressive to me than what Ryan did in 16. If Brady maintained his 12 game pace through the four games he was suspended, he would’ve thrown for 4,739 yards, 37 touchdowns, and three interceptions. Not to mention, Brady won as many games as Ryan (11), despite missing the first four.

But I guess if you want to win MVP, you probably shouldn’t get suspended for trading shoes for deflated footballs or whatever they decided it was. Not to mention, Brady’s probably stolen enough from Matt Ryan’s legacy as is.


Actual MVP- Tom Brady
Deserving MVP- Carson Wentz

Tom Terrific picked up right where he left off the year before, leading the NFL in passing yards while helping the Patriots win more games than any other team in the NFL during the regular season, but there’s someone else who probably should’ve brought home the trophy instead, had he only stayed healthy.

If Carson Wentz hadn’t gotten hurt, he would’ve thrown for over 4,000 yards, 41 touchdowns, and only nine interceptions. In fact, Wentz already threw for more touchdowns than Brady in only 13 games, and he had one fewer loss. The same logic that makes Brady my MVP in 2016 takes the award in 2017, just like Wentz’s Eagles stole Brady’s Lombardi mere weeks later.


Actual MVP- Patrick Mahomes
Deserving MVP- Patrick Mahomes

The guy threw for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in his first season as a starter, while leading the Chiefs to the best record in football. Can’t take anything away from him. Still weird that he puts ketchup on everything though.

The Bottom Line

So by my math, the MVP award still goes to the right person about 60% of the time, even with their rules. Sure, I had a few disagreements, but they were usually just my opinion, with half of the disagreements being based on what would’ve been had the quarterback in question played all 16 games, and the other half being based on the preferential treatment the league gives their moneymakers, the quarterbacks.

As it turns out, the only real issue with the way they pick MVPs is that they don’t give defenders a chance. Especially in today’s NFL, it’s just that much easier for someone to have a fantastic passing season than it is for a defender to make a big splash. If anything, that just proves how underrated today’s defenders are.



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