On Sunday, the regular season will end. A full 34 days later, we’ll learn the identity of the MVP. When that happens (and if we still care . . . there’s a chance that the night before the Super Bowl we won’t), the MVP possibly will be not one but two players.
It’s happened twice before, with Packers quarterback Brett Favre and Lions running back Barry Sanders sharing the award in 1997, and with Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and Titans quarterback Steve McNair splitting it in 2003. With only 50 voters and each voter having only one vote each, there’s a chance it will happen in 2018, with Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Saints quarterback Drew Brees registering a tie.
Some believe Mahomes should be the no-brainer winner, but what if the Chiefs lose on Sunday against the Raiders and ultimately fail to secure the AFC West crown? Since the merger, only one quarterback has won the MVP award outright without his team winning its division — that came in 2008, when Peyton Manning’s Colts finished second to the Titans.
Plenty of running backs have won the MVP without his team winning the division. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson became the MVP in 2012, Rams running back Marshall Faulk won the MVP in 2000, Oilers running back Earl Campbell won it in 1979, Bears running back Walter Payton won it in 1977, and Bills running back O.J. Simpson was named MVP in 1973, even though Buffalo didn’t even make the playoffs that year. But quarterbacks who win the award typically also have won their divisions.
If the Chiefs don’t win the AFC West, should Mahomes be the MVP? While that outcome would be in many respects out of his control, it could make it harder to overcome Brees’ candidacy, given that the Saints have secured the top seed in the AFC.
Mahomes has become the most dynamic and exciting player in the NFL, and it’s easy to make the argument that he should win the first of what could be many MVP awards. But if the Chiefs lose on Sunday to the Raiders and fail to win their division, Brees could end up securing enough votes to take the prize — or maybe to result in the third ever tie.