Over the course of each season, the question of who will or could be the MVP becomes a rollercoaster ride. Candidates come out. Some remain viable, others come and go. When all 17 games are played, the answer becomes obvious.
This year, the obvious answer is Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
It’s easy to take their wizardry for granted, to expect greatness instead of marveling at it. After a closer-than-expected victory over the Texans in December that featured a hook throw that not many quarterbacks in the history of the sport could have made, Mahomes explained that some of his best work happens when you go into “panic mode”. .”
For most, panic mode never ends well. For Mahomes, it unlocks a combination of skill and instinct that leads to memorable moments, whether it’s throwing a cross-body laser while escaping pressure or throwing a sudden knuckleball to running back Jerick McKinnon.
And when Mahomes decides to run the ball, he has an uncanny knack for weaving bodies that stall and scramble desperately in an effort to bring him down.
Mahomes’ final tally was a single-season record for total offensive output, with 5,250 passing yards, 385 rushing yards and six receiving yards. That’s 5,614 total yards of offense for Mahomes, who in his fifth year as a starter has already solidified his Hall of Fame credentials.
The next step is trying to get another Super Bowl win. He said in December that he’d rather win a championship than an MVP, that he’s won every award and that he strongly prefers whatever is determined in February. No player has accomplished both since Rams quarterback Kurt Warner in 1999.
Others deserve to be considered the most valuable in the sport. Bills quarterback Josh Allen, the preseason favorite, had another special season. A tendency to turn the ball over in the red zone dragged him down in the end, though. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, after a slow start due in large part to an appendectomy, showed he’s not afraid of anything, as evidenced by three wins over Mahomes in the 2022 calendar year.
Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts may have won the award but for a shoulder injury that caused him to miss several late-season games. He can run, he can throw, and most of all, he can lead. After a win against the Steelers, he explained that he has sensed that the rest of the team has adopted his obsessive approach and determination to win game after game.
A couple of non-quarterbacks also showed their mettle. The Vikings would have been average at best without wide receiver Justin Jefferson. And 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa made people stop to think about whether it was time for a defensive player to win the award, the first since Lawrence Taylor in 1986.
Still, at the end of the day, it’s Muhammad. The best player at the most important position in the sport. A player who will likely continue to do what he has been doing at the highest level for another decade, maybe longer.