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The 13 top candidates for NFL MVP as we near the halfway point of the season, ranked

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Josh Allen looks to throw against the Tennessee Titans.
Josh Allen. AP Photo/Matt Patterson
  • Through six weeks of NFL action, 13 potential MVP candidates have stood out from the rest.

  • The list includes quarterbacks (of course), two receivers, and one running back.

  • We ranked the 13 players with the best chance of taking home the trophy below.

13. Cooper Kupp

Cooper Kupp gets set against the New York Giants.
Cooper Kupp. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

MVP odds: 100/1

2021 stats: 46 receptions, 653 receiving yards, 7 receiving touchdowns, 29 first downs

One thing to know: Cooper Kupp is the favorite target of new Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford and has taken an even bigger share of the Los Angeles offense than he already had to start the season. Kupp is currently second amongst wide receivers in yards and first in touchdowns, so he has a good shot at going down as the top receiver of 2021. That said, his MVP odds are quite long because 1) a wide receiver has never won the award and 2) if Kupp is having a good enough year to win MVP, chances are the award will go to Stafford.

12. Derek Carr

Derek Carr warms up before a game against the Denver Broncos.
Derek Carr. AP Photo/David Zalubowski

MVP odds: 65/1

2021 stats: 64.2% completion, 1,946 passing yards, 10 passing touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 97.7 QB rating

One thing to know: Derek Carr was in the running to win MVP in 2016 before a leg injury derailed his final stretch of the season. This year, Carr is once again putting up numbers that could bring him the trophy. He trails only Tom Brady in passing yards through six games while leading the Raiders to an impressive 4-2 record. After the departure of head coach Jon Gruden, Carr is the de facto leader of the Raiders this year. If he can carry them to a division title in the crowded AFC West, he'd have a strong case as MVP.

11. Davante Adams

Davante Adams runs a route against the Chicago Bears.
Davante Adams. AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski

MVP odds: 65/1

2021 stats: 46 receptions, 668 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns, 31 first downs

One thing to know: Davante Adams is the most important player on the Packers not named Aaron Rodgers. Adams is Rodgers' first look whenever the team needs a big play and has been on the receiving end of the team's most important plays. Like Cooper Kupp, Adams' MVP case suffers if he puts up elite numbers because his quarterback is more likely to win the award. However, anyone watching the Packers week to week knows that Adams is one of the major reasons this offense keeps moving.

10. Patrick Mahomes

Patrick Mahomes warms up ahead of a game against the Washington Football Team.
Patrick Mahomes. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

MVP odds: 18/1

2021 stats: 69% completion, 1,887 passing yards, 18 passing touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 184 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown, 103.1 QB rating

One thing to know: Though his interceptions are up this year, Patrick Mahomes is still one of the most unstoppable passers in all of football. With 18 passing touchdowns through six games, and with an extra game on the schedule this season, Mahomes could break Peyton Manning's record of 55 touchdowns in a season. And with the Chiefs defense one of the worst in the NFL, Mahomes' role in keeping the team competitive is even more important — dare we say "valuable" — than in past seasons.

9. Justin Herbert

Justin Herbert makes a throw against the Baltimore Ravens.
Justin Herbert. AP Photo/Gail Burton

MVP odds: 14/1

2021 stats: 65.4% completion, 1,771 passing yards, 14 passing touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 72 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown, 98.8 QB rating

One thing to know: If Justin Herbert doesn't win MVP this year, he's certainly a player to watch through the coming three, five, even 10 seasons. Despite a tough loss to the Ravens in Week 6, Herbert still has the Chargers off to a 4-2 start. If they wind up as the top seed in the AFC heading into the postseason, Herbert will have a strong case for MVP.

8. Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers warms up ahead of a game against the Chicago Bears.
Aaron Rodgers. AP Photo/David Banks

MVP odds: 12/1

2021 stats: 66.7% completion, 1,436 passing yards, 12 passing touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 104.6 QB rating

One thing to know: Few quarterbacks in the NFL can back up their bravado like Aaron Rodgers. After starting the season with one of the worst games of his career, Rodgers has been on an absolute tear ever since, leading the Packers to five straight wins to take a dominant pole position in the NFC North. With games against the Cardinals and Chiefs over the next three weeks, the reigning NFL MVP could easily shoot up to the top of the list of candidates again by November.

7. Derrick Henry

Derrick Henry breaks through a tackle against the Buffalo Bills.
Derrick Henry. AP Photo/John Amis

MVP odds: 25/1

2021 stats: 783 rushing yards, 10 rushing touchdowns, 16 receptions, 138 receiving yards, 45 first downs

One thing to know: Through six games, Derrick Henry has been the most dominant player in the NFL. A running back hasn't won MVP since Adrian Peterson in 2012, but if Henry can keep up his current pace of production, he might be hard to deny. His 783 rushing yards are good for first in the league, with second place an astonishing 260 yards behind him. He has more games where he's scored three touchdowns (3) than games he's scored none (2).

6. Matthew Stafford

Matthew Stafford looks up during a game against the New York Giants.
Matthew Stafford. AP Photo/John Munson

MVP odds: 12/1

2021 stats: 69.5% completion, 1,838 passing yards, 16 passing touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 116.6 QB rating

One thing to know: Narrative is a huge aspect of being named MVP, and it's possible no player in the league has a better narrative than Matthew Stafford. After years of putting up elite numbers for bad teams in Detroit, Stafford has moved to a Rams team that is Super Bowl-ready, as has them firing on all cylinders. Stafford has a real chance to lead the league in passing yards and touchdowns, and if the Rams can catch the streaking Arizona Cardinals, they could earn a first-round bye in the postseason.

5. Josh Allen

Josh Allen looks to throw against the Tennessee Titans.
Josh Allen. AP Photo/Matt Patterson

MVP odds: 5/1

2021 stats: 64.8% completion, 1,723 passing yards, 15 passing touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 214 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns, 103.6 QB rating

One thing to know: The Bills look to be one of the powerhouses emerging in a surprisingly open AFC playoff race. If not for a late slip against the Titans on "Monday Night Football," the Bills would likely be sitting at 5-1 atop the conference standings. Even with the loss to Tennessee, the Bills have a balanced team that could make a run in the playoffs and a quarterback that looks as good as he ever has played.

4. Lamar Jackson

Lamar Jackson flips into the end zone against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Lamar Jackson. AP Photo/Julio Cortez

MVP odds: 12/1

2021 stats: 67.5% completion, 1,686 passing yards, 9 passing touchdowns, 5 interceptions, 392 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns, 99.3 QB rating

One thing to know: Lamar Jackson was already named MVP in 2019, but he may be off to an even hotter start in 2021. Through six weeks, Jackson is a top-10 passer in the NFL, and a top-10 rusher, with more yards on the ground than all but six running backs in the league. Given the injuries the Ravens have suffered at running back, even more of the offensive load has fallen onto Jackson's shoulders, and he has handled the extra weight with aplomb.

3. Tom Brady

Tom Brady waits in the tunnel before a game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Tom Brady. AP Photo/Rich Schultz

MVP odds: 8/1

2021 stats: 68.5% completion, 2,064 passing yards, 17 passing touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 107.9 QB rating

One thing to know: Somehow, at age 44, Tom Brady is off to the hottest start of his career. Brady leads the NFL in passing yards and is just one touchdown behind Patrick Mahomes for tops in that category as well. As for narrative, winning MVP would put Brady at four in his career, trailing only Peyton Manning (5). He'd also be the oldest player to win MVP by a whopping seven years.

2. Dak Prescott

Dak Prescott warms up before a game against the New England Patriots.
Dak Prescott. AP Photo/Stew Milne

MVP odds: 9/2

2021 stats: 73.1% completion, 1,813 passing yards, 16 passing touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 115 QB rating

One thing to know: In six weeks, Dak Prescott has probably already locked up "Comeback Player of the Year" honors and now has his eyes set on MVP. The Cowboys are the most unstoppable offense in football, leading the league with an average of more than 34 points per game. And playing in what looks like an incredibly weak NFC East this year, the Cowboys should have plenty more opportunities to put up huge numbers and potentially escape the conference with a first-round bye come the postseason.

1. Kyler Murray

Kyler Murray celebrates a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings.
Kyler Murray. AP Photo/Darryl Web

MVP odds: 9/2

2021 stats: 73.8% completion, 1,741 passing yards, 14 passing touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 116 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns, 116.2 QB rating

One thing to know: The Arizona Cardinals are the last undefeated team in the NFL, with much of their success due to the incredible play of Kyler Murray. His numbers are ridiculous, putting him first in the league in completion percentage and third in yards per attempt.

His highlights are even more ridiculous. During Patrick Mahomes' breakout year, the Chiefs quarterback put together a highlight reel the likes of which the NFL had never seen. Murray's best highlights look like Mahomes' in fast-forward including impossible scrambles, back-foot throws, and on-the-run deep heaves that appear 60 yards downfield as if fired out of a cannon.

Between the numbers he's putting up and the ridiculous plays only he could make, Murray is the MVP of the NFL through six weeks of action.

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