2021 NFL MVP watch: Breaking down a wide-open race as Tom Brady has slight edge heading into Week 11

2021 NFL MVP watch: Breaking down a wide-open race as Tom Brady has slight edge heading into Week 11
2021 NFL MVP watch: Breaking down a wide-open race as Tom Brady has slight edge heading into Week 11

We're through the first 10 weeks of the 2021 NFL season, which means it's time to start doing our weekly check-in on the MVP race. We'll use this space over the next several weeks to take the temperature of our rotating panel of experts, trying to get a feel for who is in the lead, who is in contention, who is hanging on the fringes, and how those groups are changing from week to week. 

Each of our experts was asked to submit their top five MVP rankings. Five points were awarded for a first-place vote, four for a second-place vote, three for a third-place vote, two for a fourth-place vote, and one for a fifth-place vote.

At the moment, we appear to have a wide-open race. There was not a single player who appeared on every MVP ballot submitted by our writers. We had 12 different players receive at least one vote, including two pairs of teammates. The leader in vote points has just one more point than the second-place player, and that player is just two points ahead of the two players tied for third. In other words, it's anybody's game -- even if there does appear to be an inner-circle of contenders consisting of five quarterbacks playing at an extremely high level. 

Without further ado, let's get to the voting...

The panel of voters: Jonathan Jones, Will Brinson, Ryan Wilson, Jared Dubin, Tyler Sullivan, Josh Edwards, Jeff Kerr, Jordan Dajani, Bryan DeArdo

The full MVP leaderboard

1. Buccaneers QB Tom Brady (23)

2. Cardinals QB Kyler Murray (22)

T-3. Cowboys QB Dak Prescott; Ravens QB Lamar Jackson (20)

5. Bills QB Josh Allen (17)

6. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (12)

7. Rams WR Cooper Kupp (7)

8. Colts RB Jonathan Taylor (6)

9. Rams QB Matthew Stafford (4)

10. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (2)

T-11. Browns DE Myles Garrett; Cowboys CB Trevon Diggs (1)

Most first-place votes:

Tom Brady (3) Dak Prescott (2) Lamar Jackson (2)

Most second-place votes:

Josh Allen (3) Kyler Murray (3)

Most total ballots: 

Lamar Jackson (8 out of 9) Tom Brady (6) Kyler Murray (6) Dak Prescott (6)

Positional representation:

QB (8) RB (1) WR (1) DE (1) CB (1) So who will actually win?

Honestly, it's anybody's game. Brady has a slight lead over Murray, Prescott, Jackson and Allen in our poll, but Allen (+250) currently has the best odds as Caesars Sportsbook, followed by Brady (+400), Prescott (+700), Stafford (+900), and Rodgers (+1000). 

The only thing that is almost certain is that the award will go to a quarterback. Each of the last eight MVPs has been a quarterback, and 17 of the 21 MVP awards handed out since 2000 have gone to quarterbacks. The lone exceptions are Marshall Faulk in 2000, Shaun Alexander in 2005, LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006, and Adrian Peterson in 2012.

Had Derrick Henry continued on his absurd pace and no quarterback truly separated himself from the field, it's possible that Henry could have snuck in and taken it down. Even that was still pretty unlikely, though, given the relative

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