Whoever leads the MVP race right now doesn’t matter all too much. There’s about half of the regular season still to go.
Yet, we know the likely candidates: Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey stand out. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes could win it with a big second half. Others like Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins are hanging around the edge of the race.
But it’s probably fair to assume if the vote happened today, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson would be the NFL MVP. Monday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers, a game that can be live-streamed on the Yahoo Sports app, is a potential turning point for Wilson’s MVP candidacy and the Seahawks’ season.
Wilson hasn’t faced a defense like the 49ers. The 49ers’ defense hasn’t faced a quarterback like Wilson.
Russell Wilson is having a fantastic season
Wilson’s MVP résumé heading into Week 10 is impressive.
In nine games, Wilson has 2,505 yards, an NFL-best 22 touchdowns and one interception. That’s right, a 22-1 TD-to-INT ratio. He’s not quite the runner he once was, but still has 203 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Wilson leads the NFL with a 118.2 passer rating. That would be the fourth-best mark in NFL history.
Wilson is the main reason the Seahawks are 7-2. Seattle’s defense is a far cry from the “Legion of Doom” glory days. The rest of the offense has some talent — Tyler Lockett is phenomenal, DK Metcalf is having a good rookie season, Chris Carson is a talented running back — but Wilson doesn’t have the type of supporting cast as some of the other top quarterbacks in the NFL. It’s unfair to say Wilson is doing it all himself. But few quarterbacks are more meaningful to their team than Wilson is to the Seahawks.
Wilson is a five-time Pro Bowler and a Super Bowl champion but has never won an MVP. An MVP would solidify Wilson’s legacy. Among eligible players, the only quarterback to start a Super Bowl and win, have an MVP award and not make the Hall of Fame is Joe Theismann.
Wilson might not need an MVP to make the Hall of Fame. But that would probably clinch it. A big game against the 49ers would be big in that race. It won’t be easy.
49ers defense has been great
The 49ers are one of the two best defenses in the NFL, along with the New England Patriots. They lead the NFL in yards allowed per game. The defense gives up just 138.1 passing yards per game, which is astonishing. Opponents have a 65.7 passer rating. It all starts with a talented defensive line that gets after the quarterback. Defensive end Nick Bosa, the second pick of this year’s draft, has lifted the pass rush to new heights.
However, it’s also worth noting the list of quarterbacks the 49ers have faced: Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton, Mason Rudolph, Baker Mayfield, Jared Goff, Case Keenum, Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray. Guys like Goff, Mayfield, Winston and Murray clearly have talent, and the 49ers made them look bad. But Wilson will be the best quarterback the 49ers have faced, and it’s not really close.
If Wilson can shred the 49ers defense on Monday night, it would be a huge statement in the MVP race. Wilson likely isn’t worried about MVP standings. If the Seahawks lose to the 49ers they’ll be three losses behind the NFC West leader. The division race, for practical purposes, will be over. But a Seahawks win puts Seattle one back with a big tiebreaker edge. This is a huge game in the playoff picture.
This is what the NFL wants on its Monday night stage, perhaps the best player in the league facing a defense that has arguably been the best in the game this season. It should be a good one.
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