Column: Matt Ryan should be this year’s NFL MVP.

Ryan finished first in the league in total quarterback rating at 83.3 and passer rating at 117.1.
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There is no debate on who this year’s NFL Most Valuable Player should be. If you think there is one, you just haven’t been paying close enough attention.

Yes, the Dallas rookies were phenomenal, Aaron Rodgers had a great latter part of the season and Tom Brady was once again magnificent. I’m not taking anything away from any of their spectacular seasons, but none of them have been the MVP.

That token rightfully belongs to Matt Ryan.

Ryan doesn’t get the same attention as the rest of the stars in the league, and I don’t understand why. Maybe it’s because of the market he is in or maybe because his team hasn’t been as successful as some of the other top teams in recent years. Maybe, “Matt Ryan” just doesn’t have the same ring to it as “Tom Brady” or “Aaron Rodgers.”

Whatever the reason may be, Ryan has had an insane year. A year that if other quarterbacks had, every Monday morning ESPN would be fawning over them like they already do for Rodgers and Brady.

A lot has been said this year in MVP conversations about how amazing Rodgers was down the stretch of the regular season. Rodgers said the Packers would win out, and they did. Winning the games they had to win down the stretch was extremely impressive, but I don’t think it’s a pass for how he and the team played at the start of the season.

Ryan, on the other hand, has had a complete year. From Week 1 to Week 17, Ryan led the Falcons on the field from the start, and he had little help from his defense. In the regular season, the Falcons defense ranked 27th in points allowed and 25th in total defense. Ryan had to outgun teams each week, and he did just that, finishing first in the league in total QBR at 83.3 and passer rating at 117.1.

Ryan’s main competition for the MVP title is not Rodgers. It is in fact the same man he’ll be squaring off against on Sunday–Tom Brady.

Brady also had an exceptional year, finishing with a 28 to 2 touchdown to interception ratio, an NFL record. The key flaw in Brady’s MVP case is that he had to sit out the first four games of the year. No matter how stupid you think the Deflategate suspension may have been, those four games matter.

While Brady was at home watching football from his couch, Ryan was out on the field working to get wins. Now, if no one was close to Brady and he had by far the best season, then those four games might not matter so much. But that’s not the case. Ryan has been equal to Brady, if not better, so those four games do in fact hurt Brady’s case to win his third MVP.

Because of the difference in games played, Ryan naturally has a sizable advantage in the traditional stats. He finished with more total passing yards than Brady with 4,944 passing yards to Brady’s 3,554 along with 38 touchdown passes to Brady’s 28.

But Ryan also had the edge in many stats. As previously stated, he lead the league in passer rating, QBR and yards per attempt (9.26), while Brady ranked second in all those categories at 112.2, 83.0 and 8.23, respectively. Ryan also beat out Brady in completion percentage (69.9 to 67.4) and yards per game (309 to 296). Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, but he was not the most valuable player this year in the NFL. Whatever the reason people were overlooking Ryan this year as he put up ridiculous numbers week after week will hopefully vanish when Ryan takes home the trophy on Saturday night.

Edited by Eli Lederman | elederman@themaneater.com

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