The NFL regular season is almost over, and it’s almost time for the award voters to make their final decisions. For the MVP award, Aaron Rodgers is far ahead of the pack with odds, but should we be considering it a lock that he wins the award? In this article, I’ll make a case for Rams’ wideout Cooper Kupp, currently at odds, to win this year’s MVP award.
The Case For Aaron Rodgers
It’s a quarterback-driven league, and Aaron Rodgers is this year’s best quarterback. That’s the bottom line, and it’s why most oddsmakers see it as a near-lock that he will win this year’s MVP. Rodgers has had better seasons statistically, but the Packers’ offensive line has been decimated with Corey Linsley leaving in free agency and injuries to David Bakhtiari, Billy Turner, and Elgton Jenkins. Rodgers has also had a fractured toe all season that has clearly bothered him in games. The COVID-19 scandal is hardly a reason not to vote Rodgers for MVP, and it’s been impressive how he has led his team despite those off-field distractions.
The Case Against Aaron Rodgers
While Rodgers has led the Packers to the best record in the NFL, his stats haven’t been otherworldly. He ranks just ninth in the NFL with 3,977 passing yards, and he has picked apart a comically bad NFC North. Sixteen of Rodgers’s 35 passing touchdowns have come in the five games he has played against NFC North teams. Outside of the five games that Rodgers has played against divisional opponents, he has a passer rating of under 100, and he’s only had to face four playoff teams all year. The Bears and Vikings may be firing their head coaches after this week, and they join the Lions as three of the worst defensive teams in the league.
The Case For Cooper Kupp
It hasn’t just been a good season for Cooper Kupp; it’s been a historical one. If Kupp finished the Week 18 game against the 49ers with 12 catches for 136 yards, he would break both the single-season record for catches and yards. Michael Thomas currently holds the catch record with 149, and Calvin Johnson currently holds the yardage record with 1,964. Cooper Kupp has essentially been the entire Rams’ offense for much of the year. Matthew Stafford has struggled to maintain consistency – he ranks second in interceptions and leads the NFL in pick-sixes. Injuries to Darrell Henderson and Robert Woods have been massive for the offense.
Stafford has looked to Kupp on 32% of his targets, by far the most of any receiver in the NFL, and he has 15 games with 90+ receiving yards, two more than any player in NFL history. Opposing defenses know where the ball is going, and they know that if they stop Kupp they stop the Rams’ offense, and it simply hasn’t mattered – he’s always open. Kupp is also headed for the “triple crown” as the league leader in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. Three players have accomplished that feat in the history of the league – Jerry Rice (1990), Sterling Sharpe (1992), and Steve Smith (2005). That’s incredibly elite company.
Tom Brady () and Jonathan Taylor () deserve their due praise for incredible seasons in their own right. Taylor has put together an incredible season, but the Colts likely don’t have a good enough record for him to be the MVP. Look out for him in a tight race with Kupp for the Offensive Player of the Year Award. Brady has had a strong season and currently leads the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns. Still, the shutout loss to the Saints on Sunday Night Football a few weeks ago likely left a bad taste in voters’ mouths. I see the MVP race as currently a two-horse contest. Rodgers will likely win the award, but the current odds on Kupp are far too good to pass up.
Aaron Rodgers will likely only play one series on Sunday if he plays at all, and Kupp can be a massive part of the Rams’ beating their vaunted rival 49ers to win the NFC West. The Rams have lost five straight games to the 49ers, and Sean McVay is desperate to win over his rival and good friend Kyle Shanahan. Cooper Kupp will be a big part of the game plan, as he always is, and he should be able to break records this Sunday in the Rams’ biggest win of the season. Is that enough to win him the MVP? It may not be, but they may as well rename the award to the “Most Valuable Quarterback” if Cooper Kupp isn’t rewarded this season.