As we head into Week 11 of the NFL season, there are two undefeated teams remaining–the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers. Both have proved their worth as serious Super Bowl threats, and control each one’s destiny for home field in their respected conferences. However, what separates New England and Carolina isn’t the cities they play for, nor the teams they’ve played. It’s underneath broader terms; standards that convey individual dominance over the course of a season.
While the ballot for league MVP doesn’t start until the end of January. Many people’s belief regarding the NFL’s MVP race is a close two-horse derby, between Patriots’ Tom Brady and Panthers’ Cam Newton. The pair have undoubtedly carried their teams in a myriad of ways. In fact, it’s hard not to find anything similar to one another’s game besides the win totals. Newton distributes unique leadership, that if not followed on occasion could lead you with conflicting outcomes. Nonetheless, there’s a cockiness or showmanship Newton brings that’s rarely transcended in today’s game. Whether it’s a manufacture of tumbles into the end zone, or idiosyncrasy he commands after every touchdown pass, it’s no question his emotions are embedded on his jersey.
Then there’s New England’s Tom Brady: a true crafted white-collar, has already witnessed past greatness throughout his long drawn out career as a Patriot. Some will question his character, even his respectability to the game. But bottom line, his seemingly ageless demise keeps this generation wanting more.
So what we’re left with is two polar opposite candidates on-and-off the field. Contenders that yet through uncommon diversity, collectively contribute the most crucial lasting image…winning.
The case for Tom Brady winning the MVP is simple and concrete. Very little players have displayed the same quality of numbers as he has. The success he’s amassed with four championships is something most candidates usually don’t perform behind. With that, in past years’ Brady hasn’t had the luxury of most, talent wise.
For a good majority of this year, Brady has been without a plethora of his best offensive play makers to help the team’s cause. Dion Lewis, New England’s leading tailback, suffered a season ending leg injury, as well as James White, who has frequently endured health setbacks. Next is receiver Brandon LaFell, who had previously developed into the Patriots most natural pass catcher, has seen his season become derailed one too many times via injury. And finally, the announced absence of slot receiver Julian Edelman for 6-8 weeks has hit just a little bit harder.
It’s safe to say that Brady no matter what he’s dealt with, continues to administer historic numbers even with limited help. As a matter of fact, in many scenarios, Brady makes do with a shortage of talent. He turns at-best fourth string receivers into front-of-the-line catalysts. Which ever way you want to spin it Brady’s case is as good as any.
However, when Cam Newton’s resume is arranged adjacent to Tom Brady’s. It would be hard to find any overwhelming advantage amongst the two. Although it’s a compact set of reasons. Here is why, even amidst the numbers, that Newton SHOULD be the MVP front-runner.
So far, Newton has been the captain of countless game-winning drives and a culprit of controlling the Panthers’ offense, by putting the team in the best possible chance to win. Newton has accounted for 21 total touchdowns; 15 passing and six rushing. By the mere asset of Newton being a dual-threat quarterback, he’s everything Carolina could ask for. As a whole, 46% of the time Newton’s ran the ball this year it either results in a first down or a touchdown.
The reality is his stats are never going to match Tom Brady’s, but there is no comparison to the personnel around Brady and Newton. Much of the same that was stated above regarding Brady’s amateur receivers, can be traced back to Newton’s unheralded wide receivers of his own. Nearly all of Carolina’s young receiving core has branched out over the years into more skilled players, ones that an organization can finally trust.
Remember, New England has been blessed with game-changing options at their disposal such as tight end Rob Gronkowski and do-it-all engine Danny Amendola. The Panthers contain elite talent (TE Greg Olsen), though the stock shelf isn’t as plentiful. Keep in mind, Newton started this season without number one target wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin.
Benjamin not only triumphed to a Rookie of the Year award last season, but quickly developed into Newton’s favorite red zone threat. Last year the rookie hauled in 73 passes for 1,002 yards and 9 TDs. Now, with not a single 40+ catch receiver at his availability.
Newton has brought out the best in these budding stars that continue to grow and get better every week. Sometimes its simple thinking, but if you take Cam off the Panthers, surely Carolina wouldn’t be where they are currently. Although the exact same case can be depicted with Brady out as New England’s quarterback. Let’s not forget who the actual heck Newton is throwing to weekly.
Ted Ginn Jr., Philly Brown, and Devin Funchess are nowhere near the level Brady contains nor has had the opportunity to work with. For what it’s worth, the trio of Carolina’s top receivers have all caught less than 30 passes, more so combined neither possess explosive attributes like New England’s can attest to.
In hindsight, Newton’s game has matured greatly this year. His accuracy is improving, during last Sunday’s game against the Titans, he completed a career-best 11 straight passes. In addition, Newton has achieved a better QBR (85) than all of last season (82).
And how can you forget his impressive downfield passing numbers?
Already Newton is on pace to break his personal record of completions over 40+ yards (13). Though what might be the clearest indicator that reveals why Newton’s MVP chances are deserving is his versatility. Newton has produced 29 games with at least one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown, this is just two shy from Hall of Famer Steve Young’s record of 31, if that alone doesn’t put you into the MVP conversation I don’t know what will.
People may not like the swagger Cam Newton brings to the field every Sunday. His game isn’t modeled based of raw stats, it’s sculpted by wins and that’s all he and Carolina cares about, despite the constant turnover surrounding the roster.