Most people agree by now that the NFL MVP award will come down to Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. However, the other potential candidate is the only one that still has his team in the playoffs (Tom Brady). Nonetheless, it appears that most people believe it will come down to Rodgers and Brees. So, who then should win the award? Let me attempt to break it down.
We're going to ignore their postseason play, since it's not supposed to be taken into account anyway, and combined they went 1-2.
During the regular season, Brees finished with the following numbers:
- 16 Games
- 468 completions in 657 attempts (71.2 percent)
- 5,476 passing yards
- 46 passing TDs
- 14 INTs
- Passer Rating: 110.6
- Total QBR: 84.0
Here are Aaron Rodgers numbers for the 2011 season:
- 15 games
- 343 completions and 502 attempts (68.3%)
- 4,643 passing yards
- 45 passing TDs
- 6 INTs
- Passer Rating: 122.5
- Total QBR: 85.2
So what did we learn? Well Brees threw for about 800 more yards and one more touchdown. However, did you notice the glaring difference between the two? Brees threw 155 more passes than Rodgers. Rodgers threw approximately 33 passes per game, which means he would have had to play another five games to reach the same amount of pass attempts as Brees (don't forget, Rodgers took Week 17 off while Brees did not).
So, let's approximate Rodgers' numbers if he had thrown another 155 passes. I will use his season-ending statistics as the best approximation.
Here are the numbers Rodgers would have put up with those additional passes:
- 449 completions in 657 attempts (68.3%)
- 6,077 passing yards (994 yards more than Marino's former NFL record)
- 59 passing TDs (nine more TDs than Brady's NFL record)
- 8 INTs
I don't know what his passer rating or total QBR would be, but they certainly wouldn't have been worse. Now, think about those numbers for a minute. Over 6,000 yards? Nearly 60 TDs? And still single-digit INTs?
Now, I'll admit that projecting an additional 155 passes can only go so far. But what if you take away 155 passes from Brees? His numbers would take a severe hit (and yet still be better than almost anyone).
But if we assume that Rodgers would have performed the same in those final 155 attempts as he did in his first 502, then there really is no comparison. He would have outperformed Brees by 600 yards and 13 TDs (and still had six fewer INTs).
Rodgers had just two games with a passer rating under 100. Brees had five.
Rodgers never had a game with a passer rating under 80. Brees had two.
Brees had five games with multiple interceptions thrown. Rodgers had none.
Brees had three games with just one TD pass. Rodgers had just one (but also had a rushing TD that game).
But let's say you're still a little iffy on choosing Rodgers over Brees. What is more important (to many, anyway) than any of the previously listed stats? Wins. Rodgers went 14-1 (and we can probably safely say 15-1 if he had been able to face the Lions in Week 17) and Brees went 13-3. Rodgers lost to the Chiefs, but most would agree that K.C. was noticeably better than Tampa Bay and St. Louis, two of the teams Brees lost to.
Lastly, Rodgers beat Brees in a mano-y-mano matchup in the Thursday Night opener to begin the season.
Some will say Rodgers' numbers aren't as impressive, pointing to what Matt Flynn was able to accomplish in his one start. However, that shouldn't be held against Rodgers. You still have to play well, and he did that consistently for the entire season.