Should Dak Prescott be the NFL MVP? Ranking the Top 5 candidates

The 2023 NFL regular season is winding down, but there is still no consensus on who the league’s MVP will be. In lots of years there is a consensus choice or top two options by this point, but the 2023 MVP race is pretty open after 14 weeks.

The year started with Tua Tagovailoa and Christian McCaffrey as two of the favorites, but both have slid down the list since. In the middle of the year, Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts were leaders in the MVP odds as their teams piled on win streaks, but they’ve been ‘exposed’ lately with recent losses. Find 2023 NFL MVP odds, along with a rundown of this year’s top candidates below.

NFL MVP Odds Heading into Week 15 & Eva’s Top 5

Now, there are a couple players emerging through recent weeks. The final MVP may end up being the player who continues a hot streak during the final four weeks. Here are my top candidates, if the season ended today.

1. Dak Prescott

With a win over division rival Philadelphia Eagles, Dak Prescott has silenced the haters. Well, Cowboys haters will never fully be silent, but Prescott has knocked a lot of criticism off his back, (at least temporarily).

If there’s one player who gets way too much unfair hate, it’s Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. Few quarterbacks are mocked like Prescott, who gets hounded for “only” leading his team to the divisional round and not Conference Championships or Super Bowls. Of course, those final two rounds are the ultimate goal, but that doesn’t mean Prescott sucks or is the most overrated passer since Tim Tebow. Many franchises would LOVE a quarterback who regularly puts their team in the playoff race. In eight seasons, Prescott has led the Cowboys to four playoff appearances, with a fifth most likely coming after this year. In one of the years Dallas didn’t make the playoffs, Prescott suffered an excruciating broken fibula.

Now, Prescott is finally earning his due as an MVP candidate. He’s been one of the more reliable quarterbacks over the last eight years, and is arguably the hottest player at the moment. Over the last six games, Prescott has averaged 311.3 yards per game while throwing 18 touchdowns and just one pick as the Cowboys have rolled to a 5-1 record over this span. Overall on the year, Prescott leads the NFL with 28 touchdowns, leads the NFL with the best TD-INT ratio, is fourth in passing yards and second in QBR and passer rating.

Most importantly, Prescott has given the Cowboys the lead in the NFC East with his latest win. If he can keep this division lead with upcoming games against the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions, he’ll have an even greater case to be named MVP.

2. Brock Purdy

The San Francisco 49ers quarterback fits the mold of the typical NFL MVP — the quarterback on one of the NFL’s best teams. Make no mistake though, he’s far more than just a figurehead on the NFC’s No. 1 seed. Purdy is bringing this 49ers offense up to levels we haven’t seen with any other quarterback that’s played for the team in recent years.

He’s the NFL leader in yards per attempt, QBR, passer rating and completion percentage among quarterbacks with at least six starts. Even though he’s knocked by some for being a ‘game manager,’ he’s shown multiple times this season that he can make off-schedule plays or will take the big play over a check down, like he did on the 54-yard touchdown pass to Deebo Samuel against the Seattle Seahawks.

Purdy is not higher on this list simply because sometimes other players like Deebo Samuel or Christian McCaffrey are the MVP in 49ers’ games. He’s still a great contender, but just a notch below Prescott and Hill so far.

3. Tyreek Hill

Hill has a shot at doing what no receiver has done before him — eclipsing 2,000 receiving yards. He currently leads the NFL in yards and touchdowns with 97 receptions for 1,542 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also leads the NFL with 601 yards after the catch.

Outside of his individual performance, Hill is also contributing to his team’s success. The Dolphins are currently the No. 2 seed in the AFC, and have the No. 1 ranked offense in total yards and passing yards per game with the No. 2 offense in rushing yards and points per game.

Hill has both the individual and team success to make him deserving of the award. On top of this, he easily is the reason the Dolphins and their offense are this good. Miami might be a good team without him, but they wouldn’t be throwing 40+ yard touchdowns almost weekly without Hill in the lineup.

He proved his worth even more this week against the Titans as the offense slowed when he left the game with an injury. While quarterbacks are often touted as most ‘valuable’, Hill’s absence showed how important he is to the team. Despite the narratives that this is a quarterback award, it’s time to admit that Hill is a worthy candidate.

4. Lamar Jackson

In the other conference, Jackson is the quarterback of the AFC’s current No. 1 seed. Unlike the other top quarterback contenders, Jackson doesn’t have the pure passing stats. He’s only thrown at least three touchdowns once this season, this past weekend against the Los Angeles Rams. However, his combination of both his passing and rushing contributions makes him so effective. This season, Jackson has completed 66.8% of his passes for 2,934 yards with 16 touchdowns. He also rushed 123 time for 644 yards.

Jackson is the only player in this top five to have previously won an MVP award. He previously won in 2019 after he became the first quarterback since Michael Vick to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards in a season. Unlike that 2019 season, Jackson isn’t on a record-breaking pace that could give him an edge in this race. Still, his execution as both a passer and runner for one of the best teams makes him a contender.

5. Josh Allen

Josh Allen has an unlikely shot at winning the MVP, but he should be in conversation if the Bills make the playoffs. One of the main reasons quarterbacks almost automatically win MVP is because their position is considered most valuable. When it comes to representing ‘valuable’ in the MVP talk, no player signifies that more than Josh Allen. Allen is a one-man show each week. He has the least around him of all five of these candidates, and is constantly responsible for the plays Buffalo makes. His stats are also MVP-worthy in some respects. Allen is tied for second in touchdown passes with 25 and first among all players with 35 total touchdowns.

Of course, Allen does not rank higher on this list because his team is not even in the playoffs if the season ended today. At 7-6, the Bills are right in the thick of things. Unfortunately for Allen, making the playoffs may not even be enough since the MVP award usually goes to a division winner, if not a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. Even if the Bills make the playoffs thanks to Allen, his turnovers may be too much to overcome in the voting process.

Honorable Mention: Christian McCaffrey

McCaffrey is having a phenomenal year for the San Francisco 49ers, including tying the record for most consecutive games with a touchdown. He’s on pace to eclipse 2,000 scrimmage yards and 20 touchdowns, but will most likely fall into the Offensive Player of the Year conversation. He would be higher on the MVP list, but during some games or parts of games, he’s isn’t always the focal point of the offense. Undoubtedly though, he deserves to be mentioned.

A UCLA graduate, Eva is an experienced football writer who specializes in NFL game analysis and weekly storylines. In her free time you can usually find her cheering on the 49ers or watching the latest Josh Allen highlight clip.

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