We’re a quarter of the way through the 2016 season, and while we’re getting some clarity as to which teams are actually good this year (Patriots, Broncos, Vikings all seem legit) we still aren’t sure which players are.
Last year there was a clear three-man race between Cam Newton, Tom Brady and Carson Palmer. Newton eventually pulled away after the Patriots faded down the stretch, and the Panthers 15-1 record combined with Newton’s phenomenal play elevated him above Palmer. Now, let’s look at where these three are now.
Brady hasn’t played yet; he may play well enough in 12 starts to vault himself into the race; in fact, that wouldn’t really surprise anyone. Still, missing four games is a bit of a hill to climb. Meanwhile, Newton and Palmer’s teams both have losing records. Newton’s Panthers have seen a lot of the problems that they were able to sweep under the rug last year (particularly their weak receiving core) come back to bite them, while Palmer’s inconsistent play has been a reminder of just how surprising it was that he was in the MVP discussion last year.
Palmer and Newton could still turn their seasons around, and Brady might be so good as to render the fact that he missed four games irrelevant. Still, for the time being, it appears that this year’s MVP race will look a lot different from last year’s.