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NFL MVP Race: Cassel could be King?

Matt Cassel has thrown 22 TDs and 4 Ints this season

So, who will be named the NFL’s most valuable player this season?  Some obvious candidates are Michael Vick, Tom Brady, and Phil Rivers.  All three quarterbacks are having very good seasons from a stats perspective, holding the top 3 QB ratings respectively, and their teams are playoff contenders.  It is not likely that a non-QB will win the MVP this year, although some have suggested that Texans running back Arian Foster and Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe deserve consideration.  Consideration is probably all Foster and Bowe will get though in this QB-centric league.

An interesting candidate is Matt Cassel, who has the 4th highest QB rating in the league and has been coming on very strong of late.  Take a look at Cassel’s stats over the last 7 games:  18 TDs, 1 Int, and 5 games with a 115+ QB rating.  Those are astounding numbers.  Kansas City’s offense looked stagnant at times this season and the team was carried by the defense.  Now with an offense that seems to be firing on all cylinders and a solid home field advantage, this team looks scary.  At 7-4, the Chiefs are in good position to win the AFC West.  Although the San Diego Chargers are making their perennial push for the postseason after a lackluster start.

If the Chiefs and Cassel continue their run, the 6th year QB should receive serious consideration for the MVP award.  Cassel’s story is well-documented due to his season filling in for an injured Tom Brady in New England, but a remarkable story nonetheless.  Cassel did not start a game in four years at USC and played sparingly in the NFL until the first game of 2008 when he was thrust into the spotlight after Chiefs linebacker Bernard Pollard crashed into Brady’s knee.  Cassel started slow for the Pats in 2008 looking much like a QB who hadn’t started a game since high school, but gained confidence and comfort as the season progressed.  He finished 2008 with 3693 yards, 21 TDs, 11 Ints, and an 89.4 passer rating – very impressive stuff for a 1st year NFL starter.  Cassel struggled last season, which was his first with Kansas City.  The lack of success in 2009 was not surprising given it was his second year starting and he was at the helm of a completely different system and set of players.

Cassel seems to have hit his stride and finds himself in an offensive system and team that could be together for quite awhile.  It is a little far-fetched to think he will win the MVP this year with Brady, Rivers, and Vick playing so well, but expect big things in the years to come.  If Cassel continues this hot streak, he may just have to settle for Super Bowl MVP.

 Photo by Jeffrey Beall

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William W Barnes

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