Did Josh Allen Leapfrog Russell Wilson as NFL MVP Favorite After Statement Win? – Bleacher Report

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) rushes for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

A funny thing happened on the way to Russell Wilson’s coronation as the 2020 NFL MVP.

One of the biggest games of Week 9 took place in Buffalo, where the 6-2 Bills hosted the 6-1 Seattle Seahawks. The contest featured two of the best quarterbacks of the 2020 season in Seattle signal-caller Russell Wilson and Buffalo QB Josh Allen.

Sure enough, there were fireworks galore—both quarterbacks threw for over 375 yards, and both quarterbacks added a touchdown on the ground. But it was Allen who shined at Bills Stadium on Sunday in a statement win for Buffalo—and in doing so, some drama was injected back into an MVP race that looked like it was heading toward a runaway Wilson win for most of the first half of the season.

Allen came out of the gate on absolute fire in 2020—over his first three games, he averaged 346.0 passing yards and 3.3 scores a game. But in recent weeks Allen’s production dipped, and his MVP candidacy cooled off right along with his numbers. Allen had eight total touchdowns in his last five games, including just one in his last two games.

John Munson/Associated Press

The Bills remained atop the AFC East, but Allen’s name had faded from the MVP conversation.

Folks are saying his name again now.

Granted, Allen’s performance against Seattle comes with the caveat that the Seahawks defense is well and truly terrible. Nonetheless, Allen was nearly perfect in Week 9. He completed 31 of 38 pass attempts for a staggering 415 yards and three scores. Allen added 14 rushing yards and a fourth touchdown on the ground and posted a passer rating of 138.5.

A perfect passer rating is 158.3, in case you were wondering.

Per NFL Research, Allen’s huge game made some history.

As Josh Alper reported for Pro Football Talk, Allen’s explosion came with a heavy heart after the third-year pro lost his grandmother Saturday night. It was a gutsy performance that impressed Bills head coach Sean McDermott.

“I really appreciate that he wanted to play and that he stuck it out,” McDermott said. “You’ve got to be able to compartmentalize that for 24 hours so that you can focus and do your job, and I thought he did a great job of that today and players rallied around him.”

Allen, for his part, was all about the team after the win.

“We’re excited about what we can do,” Allen said, via Adam Benigni of WGRZ. “… Seven wins doesn’t get you into the playoffs.”

Allen is right. Seven wins does not a winning season make. And one huge game isn’t going to get a player the MVP award. But tying a career high in passing yards while outplaying the hottest quarterback in the league in a history-making performance isn’t going to hurt the MVP candidacy of a player who entered the week eighth in MVP odds at DraftKings.

John Munson/Associated Press

However, the fact that Allen was eighth (behind the likes of Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs and Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers) says something. Allen may move up a couple spots on that list, but he’s not the front-runner by any stretch.

The bigger question now is whether Wilson’s status as the favorite to win the award just slipped away.

Wilson’s numbers were hardly terrible Sunday—he piled up 390 passing yards, threw two touchdowns passes, ran for a third score and posted a passer rating of 94.6. There are quite a few NFL quarterbacks who would take that line 10 times out of 10.

There was also Wilson’s weekly trip to the highlight reel.

There isn’t a quarterback in the NFL who throws a better deep ball. Wilson nearly hit Tyler Lockett on a deep pass while falling backward.

But there were also turnovers galore—turnovers that played a big part in the Bills winning the game. Wilson was intercepted twice and lost a pair of fumbles while playing behind an offensive line that spent most of Sunday doing its best matador impression.

Ole!

It was arguably Wilson’s worst game of the season. In one of Seattle’s biggest games of the season.

Do Wilson’s struggles in the game erase all the ridiculous things he did over the first seven games? Of course not. Wilson entered Week 9 third in the league in passing yards per game at 307.3. He was first in the league with 26 touchdown passes. Third in QBR at 83.4. And first in passer rating at 120.8.

When it comes to value to a team, it’s hard to argue for someone who has more than Wilson. Seattle’s offensive line is nonexistent more weeks than not. The defense is consistently crud. Without Wilson, the Seahawks enter Week 9 at 2-5, not 6-1.

But Wilson has now thrown multiple interceptions in two of the past three games. After lighting up the San Francisco 49ers for four touchdowns on Thursday night, Rodgers has 24 scoring passes for the year—and as many picks as Wilson had in Week 9. After scorching the Carolina Panthers for four touchdowns of his own Sunday, Mahomes has 25 passing scores and just one interception.

Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

A compelling argument can be made for the MVP cases of both of those quarterbacks at the halfway (give or take) point of the 2020 season.

Frankly, Sunday’s game was an object lesson in the silliness of talking so much about the league’s MVP before we even get to Thanksgiving. The NFL season is a 16-game grind. It’s fun to debate who will win the league’s individual accolades, but just like the Lombardi Trophy, MVP awards aren’t won (or lost) over the first couple months of the season.

Did Josh Allen’s historic effort in Week 9 help his MVP case? You bet. Did Russell Wilson’s turnover-filled dud damage his? Maybe. But there’s still a long way to go in the 2020 season. Plenty of opportunities for quarterbacks (the MVP is absolutely going to be a quarterback) to stake their claims.

And plenty of time left for fans and pundits to argue about who the MVP should be.