Now that we’re a bit past the halfway point of the 2022 National Football League (NFL) regular season, the players’ statistics have been somewhat cemented. Things in the NFL change rapidly from game to game, but the sample size of touches has reached a point where the consistent players are on top and likely will continue to dominate. It’s a very close year in pretty much every position, and records for overall teams have been far from what was expected since game one.
The wide receiver (WR) group has many standouts, and the top quarterback (QB) seems a matter of opinion. More than ever, we are seeing team-effort trump star players — most of the teams on the top of their divisions are well-rounded and good from all angles. That being said, like most football fans, I have unreasonably strong opinions: here are my top five picks for the 2022 NFL most valuable player (MVP).
5. Nick Chubb (RB, Cleveland Browns)
Give Nick Chubb his credit — he has rushed for over a thousand yards in each of the last three seasons, often without playing every game. This year is looking to be one of his best seasons yet: he’s rushed for 904 yards with 8 more games to play and has 11 touchdowns, one off from his career-best in 2020. He’s been a reliable running back (RB) for the Browns, only fumbling once on the season, with an average pickup of 5.7 yards every time he has the ball in his hands. He’s a sleeper for sure — most go crazy over Derrick Henry and Saquon Barkley—but no RB has been more consistent than Chubb.
4. Geno Smith (QB, Seattle Seahawks)
Geno Smith is many people’s favorite for MVP so far this season. Most of the love he’s gotten comes from the fact that Russell Wilson, once touted as one of the best NFL quarterbacks in the league, had a 7-10 record last season with virtually the same exact team. So far this season, Smith has led the Seahawks to a 6-4 record without Bobby Wagner, a stifling force on the defensive side of the ball. Since most of Smith’s love has been on account of his situation, it is a bit tough to see him winning MVP without better stats or a better record — he is currently 6th in passing yards (2,199) and tied for 5th in passing touchdowns (15). Questions arise on whether the Seahawks’ relative success has been because of the offensive scheme, as Pete Carrol has gained back control from Wilson — but we’ll have to see. One thing’s for sure, the Seahawks are a better football team with Smith on the field.
3. Justin Jefferson (WR, Minnesota Vikings)
Wow. Just wow. Justin Jefferson not only had the best catch so far of the 2022 season, but he also had one of the best catches in the history of the NFL. In his dominant game against the Buffalo Bills this past Sunday he had a career-high in receiving yards (193), with one td and 19.3 yards per reception. You can’t even call it recency bias — Jefferson has been turning heads since his rookie season and has been by far one of the most consistent wide receivers in his first three seasons. The future for Jefferson is boundless, and this game proves he can be as clutch as the rest of them. After an exciting overtime win, the Vikings improve to 8-1, a feat many deemed at best unlikely at the start of the season, even with Jefferson’s heroics. If Jefferson keeps this pace, he will have a historic season and a good chance at the MVP trophy.
2. Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Miami Dolphins)
Many give all credit for Tagovailoa’s success to his wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who is the first wide receiver to cross 1000 yards this season, but Tagovailoa deserves his fair deal of props. After his frightening and controversial injury against Cincinnati in week four, he missed two games that both ended in losses. His WR2, Jaylen Waddle, has also been a standout. While Tagovailoa undoubtedly has some crazy weapons, he has been the one delivering the ball, and he’s been throwing it accurately (69.9 CMP%) and efficiently. He has fewer interceptions (3) than Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Smith, and is tied for 5th with Smith for passing touchdowns (15). With a great new rookie head coach in Mike McDaniel and his plethora of offensive weapons, Tagovailoa is bound to succeed and lead the Dolphins to the playoffs.
1. Patrick Mahomes (QB, Kansas City Chiefs)
Patrick Mahomes has been the figurehead for the most consistent team of the past few seasons, the Kansas City Chiefs, whose success has largely been from their QB. His throwing ability is insane, and he has a sneaky running prowess that he showcased in their victory over the Tennessee Titans last Sunday. He holds the lead in passing touchdowns (21) , which has historically been the determiner for MVP and has been the case the past few seasons. He only has 7 interceptions on the season, which is impressive considering he is 2nd in pass attempts at 366. The Chiefs are 7-2, first in the AFC West, first in the American Football Conference – Western Division (AFC West) and are looking to get the Super Bowl once again. Mahomes is the one to take them there. He by far has the most impressive QB performance so far this season, and there is no reason to see it won’t continue.
This list is bound to change, and if this season has shown anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. Some honorable mentions are Lamar Jackson, Stefon Diggs and Hill; all are perfectly good players at their respective position that just need a few more good games to rise to the top. And who knows, maybe someone like Daniel Jones will suddenly be the next Dan Marino — anything is possible (I wouldn’t bet on it though).