Border Fuel Debates: NFL MVP – Rodgers or Mahomes?

In our writer group chat, we had a bit of a lively debate pop up the other day. This debate centered around who should win league MVP for the NFL this season. This debate went on for hours, with multiple writers and producers stepping in to give their two cents.

This had us thinking: besides the toxic debate sports shows like ESPN’s “First Take” or Fox’s “Uninterrupted” their is a lack of neutral spaces for sports’ fans to engage in a friendly debate. So we launched the “Border Fuel Debate” series, where we will be giving writers an opportunity to debate on topics and help sway public opinion.

This week, we started with the NFL MVP debate, and brought the two loudest voices in this week’s discussion to break it down. So I will let them take it from here.

Bryant Porter – Patrick Mahomes Deserves the MVP Award!

Earlier this month, Mahomes was considered the clear front runner for MVP with his odds at -450, but that has changed in some people’s eyes because of Rodgers. Somehow though with some of the worst offensive line performances I’ve ever seen in the last few weeks, he still managed to beat every team since.

He had two touchdowns last week against a team that Rodgers didn’t even score against, the same team that destroyed the Vikings, another team Rodgers and the Packers lost to, but since the Chiefs lost against a division rival, we’ll write that one off.

The other game Rodgers lost was a horrible game by him in which he lost it for his team. Yes! Rodgers is the reason they lost. Only 160 yards passing, no touchdowns, and two interceptions is not an MVP performance in my opinion.

Interceptions are OK if you go out and win the game (Favre did win MVP’s throwing 13 and 16 ints those years), but a 28 point loss to a team with a new worn out G.I. Joe Quarterback that had just lost to the Bears? In the first quarter alone, one of Mahomes receivers had over 200 yards and 2 touchdowns against the team that embarrassed Rodgers.

If you want to talk stats, we all know Andy Reid takes his foot off the pedal once they get up even a little on top of dumbing down the playbook and keep their cards close. Some say that the Chiefs have better weapons and offense, but I just don’t see it.

Running back– Packers- The production of Aaron Jones doesn’t lie. He’s averaging 5.6 a carry with back to 1,000-yard seasons.

Receivers– Splitting hairs here… Draw or Packers- I’m on the Tyreek Hill train and I think he is the best WR in the game, but Davante Adams has more yards, catches, touchdowns, and is averaging 20 more yards a game receiving. Hardman is fast, but he is inconsistent and has 6 drops, which are tied for 4th worst in the league (so is Hill). Watkins is often injured and inconsistent as well. I think the 6’4 and 6’5 Valdes-Scantling and Lazard are as good, if not better, options.

Tight End– Clearly Chiefs- Kelce has 5 straight thousand-yard seasons and leading the NFL in yards, but Tonyan is no scrub with over 500 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns.

Offensive line– By leaps and bounds, the Packers- Mahomes has been getting hurried regularly, not to mention the Packers tackles to rank first and eighth in pass block win percentage, guards are seventh and ninth at their position, their center is fifth. They win over 94 percent of the time while pass blocking.

I’m sure Mahomes would love to have that type of blocking on top of being the defending champions, so they’re getting everybody’s best each week. So, let’s take those factors away and focus on losses. It is called any given Sunday for a reason, but three losses compared to one, and that’s if they win this week. How does Mahomes go from the clear favorite to not being after throwing zero interception and three touchdowns against a Super Bowl contending Saints and then 278 yards passing and 2 touchdowns in his 9th straight victory?

He played so well that his team has the best record in the NFL, already locked up the bye week, but we’re gonna punish him in the MVP race. This ‘what have you done for me lately’ nonsense has to stop! How do 3 losses and a huge blowout loss against a team the Chiefs were setting records against not affect him in this race? After only one loss, somehow we’re gonna knock Mahomes for only having three touchdowns and no interceptions against a Super Bowl contending team that beat the Bucs by 33 points, the same Bucs that embarrassed Rodgers with a 28 point victory.

So, we just give Rodgers a pass on everything but hold Mahomes to a different standard? Something has to be done with the MVP voting because it just seems like a week 15-17 award where a clear front runner can lose the lead because of good games that he won while owning the best record in the league.

Ryan Potts – Aaron Rodgers Deserves the MVP Award!

With one week left in the 2020 season, Aaron Rodgers is applying the final touches to a masterful season that should end in his third MVP award. 

From a pure numbers sense, the answer is pretty simple. Rodgers leads the NFL in passing touchdowns (44), touchdown percentage (8.8), passer rating (119.4) and QBR (83.9). Despite being 12th in pass attempts, he is sixth in passing yards. He is second in completion percentage to Drew Brees. 

Additionally, only Tua Tagovailoa is more aversive to interceptions. He’s also top five in yards per attempt. 

Jumping into the world of Pro Football Focus, Rodgers has an otherworldly offensive grade of 94.5 and a passing grade of 94.2. 

For comparison, Rodgers’ historic 2011 ended with a 92.9 and 93.2 grades respectively. His 2014 MVP came from a 93.3 and 91.7 grades.

Player, Year Offensive GradePassing Grade MVP?
Rodgers, 2020 94.5 94.2 ?
Mahomes, 202091.4 90.4 ?
Mahomes, 201893.2 92.8 Yes
Brees, 2018 94.7 94.0 No
Brady, 2017 92.9 92.1 Yes
Brady, 2016 95.2 94.5 No
Rodgers, 2014 93.3 91.7 Yes
P. Manning, 201392.5 93.0 Yes
Brees, 2011 93.0 92.4 No
Rodgers, 2011 92.9 93.2 Yes
P. Manning, 200795.1 94.9 No
Brady, 2007 94.9 94.8 Yes
P. Manning, 200694.0 93.4 No

In 15 years of grading, only 2007 Peyton Manning, 2007 Tom Brady, 2016 Tom Brady, and 2018 Drew Brees (offensive grade only) have out-graded Rodgers in 2020. 

However, Rodgers has managed to maintain an excellent level of play for 14 of 15 weeks. He had one stinker (zero touchdowns, two interceptions, a 28-point loss in Tampa Bay), but he has been stellar in the other 14 weeks. 

Rodgers has six games with four passing touchdowns. Only Marino (1984), Manning (2004, 2013), and Mahomes (2018) have matched that. All four of those seasons ended with MVPs. 

Rodgers has 11 games with three or more touchdowns. Only 2007 Brady has made it to 12.

Only eight players have had 14 multi-touchdown games in a season. Rodgers has a chance to join that group in Week 17. Of the eight, all were MVP or lost out to a fellow member (2011 Brady). 

Jumping back to PFF for a moment, Rodgers has four games with a grade above 90.0. He adds five more of at least 80.0. His median PFF grade on the season is an 82.9. Mahomes has a median of 77.1. Josh Allen has a median of 76.7. 

Do you not buy PFF’s grading? That’s okay, let’s jump back to the basic statistics. 

Rodgers has 10 games with multiple touchdowns and zero interceptions, only bettered by unanimous MVP 2010 Brady and Rodgers’ 2014 MVP season. 

He holds the record for three-touchdown, zero-interception games with nine. 

Turn it up to four touchdowns? Only 2013 Manning’s six beats out Rodgers. 

Rodgers has the third-highest passer rating ever (119.4), trailing his 2011 season (122.5) and Manning’s 2004 (121.1). Similarly, Rodgers has a QBR of 83.9, only falling short of 2007 Brady (88.5), 2006 Manning (87.4), and himself in 2011 (84.5). 

With a particularly strong performance against the Bears on Sunday, Rodgers could even move higher on those lists.

If he surpasses a passer rating of 100, he would move into sole position of the record with 14 100.0-performances in a season. Naturally, everyone with at least 12 won MVP or lost MVP to Rodgers. 

Rodgers has also led the Packers to a league-leading 31.6 points per game. The Packers also led the NFL in scoring in Rodgers’ other MVP seasons. The 2020 Packers have scored the 23rd most points through 15 games ever, and 31 points against the Bears would tie them for the 20th-most in a season. At a certain point, Rodgers is not just having a good season. It’s not just a great season. It’s not even a run-of-the-mill MVP season. It is historically significant art at the quarterback position.

Who do YOU think deserves the MVP award? Comment below to let us know!