2022 NFL MVP watch: Ranking the top five candidates through Week 14

ByCourtney Cronin ESPN logo
Wednesday, December 14, 2022

The NFL's MVP award has become a two-player heat entering the final month of the regular season. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomesand Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts have surged into the front-runner mix during the second half of the season. How close the top two candidates are and what separates No. 1 from No. 2 depends on whom you ask.

We asked a group of analysts -- Stephania Bell, Matt Bowen, Mike Clay, Courtney Cronin, Jeremy Fowler, Dan Graziano, Matt Miller, Sal Paolantonio, Jason Reid, Jordan Reid, Louis Riddick, Mike Tannenbaum, Seth Walder and Field Yates -- to vote on the top players in the MVP race right now. Then we used those 14 sets of rankings to give our top five candidates, using Heisman Trophy-esque scaling for each ranking to determine how the field stacks up.Of our 14-person panel, Mahomes received nine first-place votes and Hurts finished this round of voting with five first-place votes.

We'll also look at a few names who have seen their MVP stock either spike or plummet. With four weeks remaining in the regular season, will anyone further down the list of MVP candidates make a push to unseat the two favorites at the top? Here's a look at where things stand entering Week 15.

Note: All odds are viaCaesars Sportsbook.

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Top five| Just missed

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1.Patrick Mahomes, QB,Kansas City Chiefs

2022 stats:4,160 passing yards, 280 rushing yards, 35 total TDs, 11 INTs, 77.9 QBR

Current odds:+200

Mahomes jumped ahead ofJosh Allen as the front-runner for the MVP award following a rough patch for Allen post-Week 9. Mahomes has continued to make his case as the most valuable player in the NFL with the league-best in passing yards and touchdown passes, all of which he has done without receiverTyreek Hill.Mahomes threw three touchdown passes against the Broncos in Week 14, but also threw three interceptions -- the most he has thrown in a game since late 2020 and just one week after the Chiefs lost to the Bengals -- which is probably why his MVP odds have dipped since midseason.

2. Jalen Hurts, QB, Philadelphia Eagles

2022 stats: 3,157 passing yards, 686 rushing yards, 32 total TDs, 3 INTs, 70.4 QBR

Current odds:-140

The Eagles are the NFL's most complete team, and Hurts is a major threat to any opponent. Hurts has run for 157 yards against the Packers, thrown for 380 yards and three touchdowns against the Titans and led the Eagles to put up 48 points on the Giants. He has accounted for nearly 1,000 yards of offense in his past three games (along with nine TDs) and the team has scored 123 total points in that same stretch -- which is its most in three consecutive games since 1972.

Hurts ranks first in passer rating (108.4), interception percentage (0.8%) and rushing touchdowns (10), and he is top three in total TDs (32), yards per attempt (8.1) and completion percentage (68%). Hurts and Mahomes will battle this one out down the stretch, and it's not improbable to think the Eagles' QB could become the second-youngest ever to win the MVP at 23 years old.

3.Joe Burrow, QB,Cincinnati Bengals

2022 stats:3,685 passing yards, 234 rushing yards, 32 total TDs, 9 INTs, 59.8 QBR

Current odds:+600

Burrow entered the MVP mix during a Week 13 win over the Chiefs where he threw for 286 yards with two touchdown passes while recording his second-highest completion percentage (80.6%) of the season. He followed that up with 239 yards passing, two touchdown passes and an interception against the Browns, adding to his TD pass total (27, second) and passing stats (3,685 yards, third).

He has been productive with porous pass protection, ranking first or tied for the lead in completion percentage (60%) and yards per attempt (8.1) while pressured. Since Week 5, Burrow has launched 17 touchdown passes to just four interceptions. The Bengals are on a five-game winning streak with a division title in sight. With a handful of opportunities to cement himself among the front-runners, namely a head-to-head matchup againstAllen in Week 17 followed by potentially having the AFC North on the line in Week 18, Burrow has a real shot to shake up the top two.

4.Josh Allen, QB,Buffalo Bills

2022 stats:3,553 passing yards, 628 rushing yards, 32 total TDs, 11 INTs, 73.2 QBR

Current odds:+2000

Allen and the Bills gutted out a Week 14 win over the Jets in poor weather conditions. Buffalo punted on five straight drives to open the game, the first time that has happened with Allen at quarterback, and Allen threw for a season-low 147 yards. But Buffalo is still the current No. 1 seed in the AFC.

Allen also has made sizable contributions to the numbersStefon Diggsis putting up -- Diggs is tied for third in touchdowns, third in receptions and fourth in receiving yards. The Bills will have a chance to get back on track at home against a Dolphins team riding a two-game losing streak.

5.Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Miami Dolphins

2022 stats:3,004 passing yards, 22 TDs, 5 INTs, 73.5 QBR

Current odds:+5000

Back-to-back losses to the 49ers and Chargers have derailed Tagovailoa's MVP chances. Tagovailoa had an 83 total QBR and 70% completion percentage in his first nine games, and he averaged 9.0 yards per attempt. In his past two starts, his total QBR dropped to 22, his completion percentage dipped to 46% (he went 10-of-28 vs. the Chargers, the worst mark of his career) and his yards per attempt dipped to 7.2.

Tagovailoa had the third-best odds for the MVP award entering Week 13. Now he's on the outside looking in, leading a second-place team in the AFC East with upcoming games against the Bills, Packers, Patriots and Jets to finish the regular season.

Just missed

Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings (+15000)

The NFL's leader in receiving yards will fight neck and neck with Hill to become the first 2,000-yard receiver in league history. Jefferson topped 1,500 receiving yards in 13 games (a league best 115.4 receiving yards per game) and set the Vikings' single-game record for receiving yards when he caught 11 passes for 223 yards in a loss to Detroit. A non-quarterback has to prove that his production is the catalyst behind the offense and his quarterback's success, not the other way around, to win the MVP. That case can certainly be made for Jefferson given his impact in helping the Vikings claw their way to close wins and a 10-3 record, but his touchdown production (6) pales in comparison to other MVP candidates.

Micah Parsons, LB,Dallas Cowboys(+25000)

The Cowboys edge rusher ranks third in pressures (59) and sacks (12) through 13 games and has anchored the NFL's No. 3 scoring defense. He has more two-sack games (6) than any other defender but didn't generate a single hit on Green Bay'sAaron Rodgersor Philadelphia'sHurts, both games that resulted in losses for the Cowboys. There's competition lurking for the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award, too. Parsons needs a signature moment down the stretch to separate himself from the likes ofNick Bosa,Matthew JudonandMaxx Crosby.

Tyreek Hill, WR,Miami Dolphins(+8000)

Along with Jefferson, Hill is also on pace to make history. In his 13th game as a Dolphin, Hill reset Miami's single-season franchise receiving record previously held by Mark Clayton (1,389 yards in 1984), needing just 11 yards entering Week 14. Both Hill and Jefferson lead the league with six games of 125-plus receiving yards, and the Dolphins' receiver added another feat to his list of accomplishments against Los Angeles by returning a fumble 57 yards for a touchdown -- the first fumble-recovery TD of his NFL career.

Geno Smith, QB, Seattle Seahawks(+20000)

Smith's signature MVP moment came in Week 13 against theRams where he orchestrated a game-winning drive on the road inside of two minutes to lead the Seahawks to victory. It was Smith's first game-winning drive since he was in his second season with the Jets in 2014, and while he's currently the betting favorite for the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year award, Smith remains squarely in the conversation for MVP. The 32-year-old quarterback leads the league in completion percentage (71.5%), is third in passer rating (106.8), has thrown at least two touchdown passes in 11 of 13 games and ranks sixth in passing (3,433 yards) and fourth in touchdown throws (25).

Also received top-10 votes: Chargers QBJustin Herbert, Vikings QBKirk Cousins, Ravens QBLamar Jackson, 49ers DENick Bosa, Chiefs TETravis Kelce, Raiders WRDavante Adams, Eagles WRA.J. Brown, Titans RBDerrick Henry, Bills WRStefon Diggs, Cowboys QBDak Prescott, Lions QBJared Goff, 49ers RBChristian McCaffrey, Raiders RBJosh Jacobs, Cowboys RBTony PollardandGiants RBSaquon Barkley

Stock up

Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers(+25000)

Playing without his two starting offensive tackles, Herbert turned in one of the strongest performances of his career in a 23-17 win over the Dolphins in Week 14. The third-year quarterback outdueledTagovailoa, who was taken one spot ahead of him in the 2020 draft, and threw for a season-high 367 yards and a touchdown on 39-of-51 passing. The Chargers remain in the hunt for an AFC wild-card spot with winnable games against Tennessee (which boasts an identical 7-6 record), Indianapolis, Las Vegas and Denver remaining.

Nick Bosa, DE,San Francisco 49ers

Bosa is Parsons' strongest competition for Defensive Player of the Year. His signature moment came when he annihilated Miami's offensive line en route to three sacks and a forced fumble in Week 13. The 49ers edge rusher leads the league with 14.5 sacks (no other San Francisco defender has more than 4.0), has 35 QB hits and 64 total pressures and has recorded wins on 23.3% of his pass-rush snaps, which is second-best among qualified defenders.

Stock down

Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens(+15000)

Jackson missed most of the Ravens' Week 13 win and all of the Week 14 win with a knee injury, so his odds are slipping. He's no longer a lock as the league's most dynamic rushing quarterback, a nod that this season goes to Bears QBJustin Fields. The Ravens and Bengals are tied for first in the AFC North with a Jan. 8 meeting that will likely decide the division winner. Jackson's injury could keep him out until Week 16, which will only further put him out of the MVP conversation.

Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

The Giants' postseason chances feel like they're slipping away during a brutal stretch of NFC East games. Barkley crossed the 1,000-yard rushing threshold in a tie against Washington but has been quiet as of late, having rushed for only 67 yards combined in losses to rivals Dallas and Philadelphia.

Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys(+15000)

The Cowboys escaped an upset against the one-win Texans in Week 14 when Prescott completed six of seven passes for 79 yards in the game's final minutes to set up Dallas' go-ahead touchdown. The Cowboys are averaging 35.7 points with a 6-1 record since Prescott's return to the lineup, but the quarterback has to play better to close out the year if the Cowboys are planning on a deep playoff run.

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