When fans and analysts talk about which player should win the 2011 NFL MVP award, the first name that automatically springs to mind is Green Bay Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodgers. But no one player is having a season as dominant or historic as New Orleans Saints' quarterback Drew Brees.
This is not to dismiss Rodgers and all that he has accomplished this season, and certainly the race is incredibly close. The Packers quarterback has thrown for 4,643 yards with 45 touchdowns to just six interceptions. The team has the best record in the NFL, and he has been at the center of everything.
However, Brees has been even more dominant than Rodgers through the first 15 games. He has not had a down period this season. He has completed at least 59 percent of his passes in every game, thrown for over 300 yards 12 times, leads the league in completion percentage of 70.7 and ranks second in touchdowns with 41.
And, oh, by the way, Brees just set the NFL record for most passing yards in a season with 5,087 in just 15 games.
Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune did a straw poll of Associated Press voters late last week. He got 30 responses with Rodgers receiving the majority and Brees not far behind. He also points out that there is some history with a race this close between two quarterbacks having historic seasons.
In many ways, this year's race mirrors the 2004 campaign, when Minnesota Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper had the misfortune of producing his best season in the same year Manning set the NFL record for passer efficiency rating. That year, Culpepper completed more passes (379 to 336) for more yards (4,717 to 4,557) with a higher completion percentage (69.2 to 67.6), but Manning was more efficient, throwing for more touchdowns (49 to 39), fewer interceptions (10 to 11) and a higher yards-per-attempt (9.17 to 8.61). Manning won the MVP in a landslide.
It is going to take a lot for voters not to give Rodgers the award. The narrative fits and when you combine that with the fact that everyone has been championing him to win the award basically since the season started, Brees will have a difficult time wrestling it away from him.
If you want to throw out their head-to-head matchup at the start of the season, bear in mind that Brees threw for more yards and had the same number of touchdown passes as Rodgers in that game. It's not his fault that the defense gave up 42 points.
But it is not every year that we see a quarterback as dominant as Brees break NFL records and dominate in ways that we have not seen from anyone before.
Sure, the Saints don't possess the Packers' shiny 14-1 record, but they still won their division with 12 wins and are a force to be reckoned with in the postseason.
Brees won't win the MVP award because voters love the story of giving it to the best player on the best team, but he deserves it a little more than Rodgers does.