November 10, 2023 9:00am

NFL Mid-Season MVP

Two familiar names atop the mid-season voting

Photo of Rick Gosselin
NFL Correspondent

Quarterbacks have been named the NFL MVP each of the last 10 seasons and in 15 of the last 16 years. After an 18-week season, it becomes pretty clearcut.

But how about after nine weeks? In this week’s NFL Power Poll, we asked our panel of former players, coaches, officials, talent evaluators, writers and broadcasters who should be the choice as the mid-season MVP and offered up eight options – three quarterbacks, two wide receivers, a running back, a pass rusher and the league’s leading interceptor.

Even at the season’s midway point, the voters still love the quarterbacks. Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts won comfortably with 55 of the 180 votes cast, followed by Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes with 34 votes. But there was plenty of support for others on the ballot as well with Miami wide receiver Tyreek Hill receiving 28 votes, followed by Philadelphia wideout A.J. Brown with 18, San Francisco running back Christian McCaffrey 17, Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa 16 and Cleveland edge rusher Myles Garrett 12.

Mahomes and Hurts quarterbacked their teams to the last Super Bowl and finished 1-2 in the 2022 MVP voting with Mahomes collecting his second MVP trophy. But with Hurts coaxing the Eagles to a league-best 8-1 record this season, the order has been reversed. He has passed for 15 touchdowns and leads all NFL quarterbacks with seven rushing scores.

“I think Hurts tends to be underrated but he is the quarterback of the team with the best record,” said former Hall-of-Fame voter Vito Stellino. “And so far he has overcame the fact that Super Bowl losers often struggle the next year. With the Eagles' schedule tougher in the second half, it remains to be seen if he deserves the honor at the end of the year.”

Tagovailoa leads the NFL with 19 touchdown passes with Mahomes two back at 17.

“I know they've made other changes, but the difference between the Miami Dolphins without Tua Tagovailoa down the stretch last season compared to this season is so dramatic that I have to give him my MVP vote,” said Alan Saunders, a sports writer with Pittsburgh Sports Now.

The Dolphins lead the AFC East with a 6-3 record and the Chiefs lead the AFC West with a 7-2 mark.

“Every year is the year that the Chiefs are supposed to take a step backwards but they never do,” said Alex Shapiro, a reporter with NBC Sports. “Spags (defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo) deserves a ton of credit for the way the defense has played this season -- but Mahomes is the x-factor.”

Hill ranks second in the NFL in catches (60) and leads in both receiving yards (1,076) and touchdowns (8). He also leads the league in yards from scrimmage with 1,093.

“There's a reason the Dolphins lead the NFL in scoring offense and total offense -- his name is Tyreek Hill,” said Hall-of-Fame voter Ira Kaufman of ““He's averaging 120 yards per game and he's compensating for a pedestrian season by Jaylen Waddle. Hill is carrying this team, which is saddled with the league's No. 25 defense. Without him, Miami would be 4-5 and scratching for an AFC wild-card spot.”

Hall-of-Fame voter Barry Wilner cast his vote for a forgotten man in the MVP equation – a defender. There have been only two defensive MVPs in NFL history – Alan Page and Lawrence Taylor.

“Having overseen the AP voting for MVP for three decades, I witnessed the evolution leading to selecting QBs almost exclusively,” he said. “That likely will occur again, but from this viewpoint, Myles Garrett has been the most impactful player through the first half of the schedule. The Browns are a very flawed team, yet because of the defense -- with Garrett the focal point and easily the best player -- they are contenders.”

In our second question, we asked our panel to pick a winner in the biggest game of the weekend – San Francisco at Jacksonville. Both teams lead divisions – the 49ers share the NFC West lead with a 5-3 mark with the Jaguars atop the AFC South at 6-3.

The panel liked the 49ers to snap their three-game losing streak with 126 votes. The Jaguars got the other 54.

“This game is a coin flip, especially with both teams coming off a bye week,” said Gene Frenette, a columnist with the Florida Times Union. “What sticks out to me is the 49ers have lost three straight games and probably have a greater sense of urgency to get out of that rut. Though the Jaguars want to keep winning to stay in the hunt for a No. 1 playoff seed, they also have the comfort of knowing they have a lot of margin for error in the AFC South race. For no other reason than that, I like the 49ers to win a tight game.”

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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of significant key players in American sports today. It's member list draws on people from media, team management, and league management. It is not a scientific survey, but the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those who know most about the sport.

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