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约炮app season: Predicting each NFC team's MVP

For some organizations, projecting the team MVP entering a season isn't very taxing work. You just know who it is straight away. Oftentimes, it's a quarterback.

But for other clubs, it's not so easy. In some cases, it's because there are numerous viable options. In others, there aren't many clear-cut candidates -- at least not obvious ones. And yes, there is certainly a positional bias at work. It's sadly harder to make a case for an offensive lineman -- a cog in the ultimate position group of synergy and cohesion -- or perhaps a back-seven defender than it is for an offensive playmaker. Hey, at least I'm being honest with myself here!

As for the QB distribution, I knew the percentage of picks at that position would outweigh all the others by a significant margin. I didn't want to artificially limit how many quarterbacks I selected, but going in, I thought that ending up with about 16 of the 32 picks might be a respectable landing mark. Somehow, I ended up with fewer than half my team MVP predictions being quarterbacks. Am I doing this right? Or did I take it too far as a way of proving a point about positional importance?

Please how I fared on these selections, some with a little more wiggle room than others, as you might notice.

Arizona Cardinals
2023 record: 4-13
Kyler Murray
QB · Year 6

Perhaps there鈥檚 a case for rookie receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. to be a viable candidate, but I鈥檓 not ready to go there yet. The Cardinals made a strong statement of support behind Murray after his return from injury last season, and the results down the stretch were fairly encouraging. Now more than a year removed from his ACL surgery, and bolstered by a stronger offensive supporting cast, Murray might be ready for one of his best seasons to date.


Even if that doesn鈥檛 happen, it鈥檚 hard to throw my support behind anyone (even the beloved Budda Baker) on a defense that ranked second-to-last in points allowed (26.8 per game) and still has a ways to go, or behind a rookie such as Harrison. If Murray can approach or exceed his 2021 output as a runner and passer, this will be an easy choice. The former No. 1 overall pick will turn 27 in August, and his best might still be ahead of him.

Atlanta Falcons
2023 record: 7-10
Kirk Cousins
QB · Year 13

When the Falcons signed Cousins to a massive deal in March, it pretty much sealed up this selection here. Assuming he鈥檚 all the way back from last season鈥檚 Achilles injury, there鈥檚 a pretty strong supporting cast in place -- good offensive line and some elite skill-position talents -- and a soft enough schedule this season that could even vault Cousins into the league-MVP discussion.


If you want to argue that Jessie Bates III or even Chris Lindstrom was Atlanta鈥檚 best player a year ago, I won鈥檛 stand in your way; both were terrific for a team devoid of a standout QB. But with Cousins in tow, the debate has changed drastically. I鈥檝e previously made the case that the Falcons鈥 curious drafting of Michael Penix Jr. at No. 8 overall should be viewed through the prism of a team protecting its best asset with a thick layer of insurance. To me, this one closes in on no-brainer turf.

Carolina Panthers
2023 record: 2-15
Derrick Brown
DT · Year 5

A hopeful soul might go with Bryce Young here, and I do think Young eventually will grow into a successful, front-line role with this team. But that still requires a tad too much faith for me right now, even with the seeming improvements the Panthers have made on offense this offseason. I can鈥檛 quite envision a Trevor Lawrence-like jump from Year 1 to Year 2 for Young at this stage, even if he figures to be better this season under Dave Canales.


Brown is understandably an atypical selection based on his position, but when you鈥檙e talking about a team coming off a 2-15 season with no established offensive stars, it becomes a little easier to embrace. I also suggest watching some of what Brown did last season because I think Carolina鈥檚 nightmare campaign cloaked what was a mostly dominant showcase, with the DT topping 100 tackles(!) and averaging nearly one QB hit per game despite near-constant double teams. The only two interior defenders who played more snaps than Brown last season were Chris Jones and Christian Wilkins, the NFL鈥檚 two highest-paid players at the position.

Chicago Bears
2023 record: 7-10
D.J. Moore
WR · Year 7

This was no layup choice, as there are cases to be made for defenders such as Montez Sweat or Jaylon Johnson, or even rookie QB Caleb Williams. If Williams turns in a C.J. Stroud-esque rookie season, he鈥檒l be an easy selection. But Stroud is more the exception to the rule as far as first-year quarterbacks go, and levying that level of Year 1 expectation borders on the unrealistic.

 

Instead I鈥檒l choose Moore, even if he鈥檚 no slam-dunk selection. There鈥檚 even a case to be made that Moore鈥檚 2024 numbers could fall below his career-high totals from last season (1,364 receiving yards, eight TD catches), given that the Bears added WRs Keenan Allen and Rome Odunze and RB D鈥橝ndre Swift. But if there鈥檚 an individual player who holds the key to helping unlock Williams more than Moore, I don鈥檛 know who it is. 


In the 12 games Justin Fields started and finished last season, Moore averaged 91.8 receiving yards per game and caught half of Fields鈥 TD passes. Even with a stronger receiving corps this year, Moore figures to be a huge part of Williams鈥 development in his rookie season -- and well beyond.

Dallas Cowboys
2023 record: 12-5
Micah Parsons
OLB · Year 4

Prior to the playoff loss to the Packers, QB Dak Prescott was playing some of the best ball of his career, leading the league in completions (410) and TD passes (36) and finishing second to Lamar Jackson in MVP voting. He鈥檚 certainly a strong candidate to be his team鈥檚 MVP again this season, and yet, I鈥檓 just a little bearish of that happening in 2024. First, Dak's had a bit of a hard time stringing together back-to-back great seasons over his career, and the Cowboys have some roles to iron out at receiver and along the offensive line.


Parsons is my pick to be Dallas鈥 MVP this season, although his candidacy is not a slam dunk, either. Even with a career-best 14 sacks in 2023 and the high level of play we鈥檝e come to expect, there were a few games where Parsons was notably quiet, especially down the stretch as cracks started forming in the defense. I still think he has a DPOY in his future, perhaps even this season, although the loss of defensive coordinator Dan Quinn also opens this pick up to scrutiny. 

Detroit Lions
2023 record: 12-5
Jared Goff
QB · Year 9

The Lions have as well-balanced a roster as there is in the NFL right now. There were many decent options I could have gone with, including several on offense and Aidan Hutchinson on defense. New candidates might even emerge from a deep well of young, emerging talent, too. 


But right now, I have a hard time going anywhere but Goff. When he played well last season, the Lions tended to win far more often than not. He鈥檚 started all 17 games in two straight seasons now, and you can鈥檛 tell the story of the franchise鈥檚 incredible turnaround without him at the forefront. Nothing against Amon-Ra St. Brown, Penei Sewell or even Sam LaPorta -- all of whom played major roles in Detroit鈥檚 dream 2023 season -- but if the Lions are to repeat that magic, it鈥檚 going to take another strong effort from the ninth-year QB, whose career has been on the ascent in a city and a locker room that has fully embraced him as their leader.

Green Bay Packers
2023 record: 9-8
Jordan Love
QB · Year 5

If Love reprises his play from the second half of last season, he鈥檚 an easy choice here. But if we see too much of the hot-and-cold Love from prior to November (and we鈥檒l throw in his fourth quarter in the playoff loss to the 49ers), it could make this selection look silly in hindsight.


But there鈥檚 really no other logical pick for me, even with Love being a little inconsistent overall in his first year as the Packers鈥 starter. Looking back at the total result, last season stands as a success. He was the team MVP in 2023 and has the offensive weapons to maintain that mantle for many years. Even with team-MVP-worthy defenders such as Rashan Gary and Jaire Alexander on the roster, this 飞补蝉苍鈥檛 too difficult a choice.

Los Angeles Rams
2023 record: 10-7
Matthew Stafford
QB · Year 16

With Aaron Donald retired, there鈥檚 one clear-cut option removed from the equation. It basically comes down to whether you think Stafford or one of his ace receivers, Cooper Kupp or Puka Nacua, will be the main man going forward. Kupp is just a few years removed from one of the league鈥檚 all-time receiving seasons, and Nacua just authored one of the all-time best seasons by a rookie receiver. But Kupp鈥檚 age (31) and recent injury history scare me, and don鈥檛 forget Nacua was banged up quite a bit in college, too. 

 

Stafford might be heading into his swan-song season for all we know, but the way he was playing at the end of last season -- right up to where he almost upset his former Lions team in Detroit in the playoffs -- was just about as high a level as Stafford has played in his career. That鈥檚 a bold statement, but I believe it. And I think with some luck and health, he can approach that level again in 2024 -- perhaps with Kupp cutting into Nacua鈥檚 production just a bit.

Minnesota Vikings
2023 record: 7-10
Justin Jefferson
WR · Year 5

The Vikings are another team where you can make a pretty strong argument that a non-QB is their best and most valuable player, especially with QB Kirk Cousins gone. Minnesota will be counting on Jefferson even more this season with a Sam Darnold-J.J. McCarthy QB pair, getting the ball in the receiver鈥檚 hands as much as humanly possible. 


There was a strange dynamic last season, with the Vikings going 2-8 in games where Jefferson appeared, with a hamstring wiping out nearly half his 2023 season. But Cousins was injured for half of those 10 games, and six of the eight losses were by one score. Catching passes from Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall over the final four contests, Jefferson still managed to average 119 receiving yards per game. He鈥檚 their clear-cut alpha for now, no matter who is at QB.

New Orleans Saints
2023 record: 9-8
Derek Carr
QB · Year 11

I sat and stared at the Saints鈥 roster for longer than I want to admit, trying to figure out if Carr was indeed the right choice. I couldn鈥檛 quite pick Demario Davis or Tyrann Mathieu, two guys heading into the gloaming of their careers, terrific as both might have been last year. Chris Olave was naturally an option, but I couldn鈥檛 forget how he and Carr struggled to get on the same page at times last season, unsure how to weigh that. And in the positional hierarchy of things, quarterback trumps receiver every time. 


Olave might be the better talent, but for the sake of the Saints鈥 success, Carr could be more important. I suspect bulking up the O-line a bit and adding Klint Kubiak as coordinator will be big boons for Carr, who actually played quite well down the stretch and might have one more big season left in him. But this was no easy pick, mind you.

New York Giants
2023 record: 6-11
Brian Burns
OLB · Year 6

Burns might have been the Panthers鈥 co-MVP a year ago (with Derrick Brown), and I think he will thrive on a Giants defense that features an emerging Kayvon Thibideaux on the opposite edge and an established Dexter Lawrence in the middle. This offense lost Saquon Barkley, still has OL issues to iron out -- and there鈥檚 that curious QB situation to figure out. New York isn't likely to be winning games 38-35.


If the Giants are going to surprise people this season, the defensive line likely will have to be a big reason why. The Burns trade and extension felt like one of the savviest fell swoops of the entire offseason. Some teams might not have viewed Burns with the same reverence because of his solid but hardly eye-popping sack numbers, but the tape reveals a consistently disruptive edge capable of earning All-Pro honors in New York.

Philadelphia Eagles
2023 record: 11-6
Jalen Hurts
QB · Year 5

This pick 飞补蝉苍鈥檛 hard, per se, but I paused for a minute. There has been this strange cloud over Hurts since about December or so, at least in my mind, and if I鈥檓 being honest with myself, I felt like he was never quite right in 2023. Coming off his brilliant 2022 season, that was a disappointment. And this season, he鈥檒l have to deal with the retirement of Jason Kelce and will have his fifth play-caller in a five-year span -- obviously less than ideal.


How Hurts and Kellen Moore will mesh is anyone鈥檚 guess. It 飞补蝉苍鈥檛 the most natural-sounding pairing I could have imagined, but that doesn鈥檛 mean it can鈥檛 work, of course. I believe in Hurts, his ability to pick up new schemes quickly and his weapons. There might be a little more balance this season with Saquon Barkley in the mix, and I could see Hurts ultimately rising back closer to the level we saw in his MVP runner-up season.

San Francisco 49ers
2023 record: 12-5
Christian McCaffrey
RB · Year 8

First off, this is no Brock Purdy slander. I鈥檝e appreciated his stunning and unexpected growth as much as anyone and freely admit to have written him off as a prospect coming out of Iowa State. But let鈥檚 be honest with ourselves: CMC is as much the engine of this offense as anyone else in Kyle Shanahan鈥檚 share-the-wealth system. 


McCaffrey was last year鈥檚 Offensive Player of the Year and third in the MVP voting. For a spell last season, he might have been the MVP favorite -- as a running back! In 2023! I don鈥檛 know if he鈥檒l ever win the league MVP award, as quarterbacks have had a hammerlock on that award for decades now. But if there鈥檚 any non-QB who deserves it, CMC might be the guy. That makes him a bit stronger of a candidate for the 49ers than Purdy, who is the ultimate distributor. 

Seattle Seahawks
2023 record: 9-8
DK Metcalf
WR · Year 6

Geno Smith 飞补蝉苍鈥檛 quite as good last season as he was in 2022, and the acquisition of Sam Howell was something I considered adding to my recent 鈥渟tories that deserve more attention鈥 piece before it was left on the cutting-room floor. I could see both Smith and Howell seeing the field next season as the team shifts to a new staff led by head coach Mike Macdonald and OC Ryan Grubb. 


There might be a division of labor at QB, but they鈥檙e not planning to take Metcalf off the field anytime soon -- and for good reason. Tyler Lockett might be entering the twilight phase of his career, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba could pick up additional touches, but I can鈥檛 veer off Metcalf as being the biggest beneficiary of this new scheme. Grubb wants to dial up the big plays, and there are few better impact receivers out there, no matter who is at quarterback.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2023 record: 9-8
Antoine Winfield Jr.
S · Year 5

I could see a slight regression for Baker Mayfield and the Buccaneers鈥 offense this season. I鈥檓 not predicting a big downturn or anything, but it鈥檚 not going to be easy to reach the same plateau Tampa Bay hit by the end of last season, especially with Dave Canales jumping ship to Carolina. 


Instead, I鈥檓 putting my money behind the Bucs鈥 most consistent impact player in Winfield, who somehow remains underrated in spite of being an NFL legacy and having turned in a brilliant first four seasons. Are we witnessing the start of a Hall of Fame career? I don鈥檛 say that lightly. The highest-paid safety in the league, Winfield has 15 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, eight recoveries and seven interceptions in his career, and he has an innate knack for making the timeliest of plays when the Bucs need them most. A special young player in the midst of stardom. 

Washington Commanders
2023 record: 4-13
Jayden Daniels
QB · Rookie

Earlier, I explained how Caleb Williams might not be the Bears鈥 team MVP, but it doesn鈥檛 mean I don鈥檛 think any rookie QB could win that honor. Every situation is different, and the Commanders do have a top-tier playmaker in WR Terry McLaurin, who easily could provide the same level of comfort for Daniels as D.J. Moore can for Williams. But if the thinly built Daniels can make it through his first season relatively healthy, I think he has a slightly better chance of being the Commanders鈥 most important player this season.


One reason is that Chicago has a stronger all-around roster right now than Washington does. But another reason is that Daniels also figures to be a heavier runner than Williams, which I believe makes Daniels just as much an Offensive Rookie of the Year threat, if not more. If he leads the Commanders to the franchise鈥檚 first winning record since 2016, Daniels could have a Stroud-like effect on this franchise. I鈥檓 expecting a very encouraging first year from the No. 2 overall pick.

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