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Tom Brady is MVP of the 2015 season -- and, perhaps, all time

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In the wake of a Week 3 blowout win over the Jaguars, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady did his best to diffuse the early and seemingly immediate comparisons to his memorable and historic 2007 season. It wasn't just a cliché answer -- it made sense.

"I can't understand that one quite yet," Brady said back in September, during one of his regular appearances on "The Dennis & Callahan Show" on WEEI-FM. "It's like three games into the year. There's so much football left. And there are so many different things that can happen.

"Not even a quarter of the way through the season. It's way too early to think about anything."

Understandable, right? No doubt, as the Patriots prepare to play the Giants -- the one team that strangely managed to serve as a thorn in New England's otherwise-undefeated side in that 2007 campaign -- we'll continue to hear similar responses to those same questions and comparisons. And that's just fine.

But it is time, as we embark on the season's second half, to accept and enjoy the historical significance of what Brady is doing. (Yes, that even goes for those of you maintaining residual Deflategate skepticism.) This isn't a hot start anymore. This is a legendary season.

That might seem so obvious to everyone in New England. But something funny happened in the wake of the Panthers' win over the Packers last Sunday, a win that prompted the sports world's tardy recognition of Carolina's impressive play in 2015: The pendulum swung way too far in the other direction.

This, of course, isn't shocking. After all, the Panthers' biggest win of the regular season coincided with the annual tradition of filling the news-cycle doldrums with funny midseason awards.

But let's just step back for a second, here.

Cam Newton should not be in the discussion as the NFL's Most Valuable Player. That conclusion is not meant to slight his fantastic work, nor is it the result of a simple analysis of Newton's mediocre statistics. Rather, there simply is no discussion to be had. Not about Newton. Not about Andy Dalton. Not about Carson Palmer.

Pro Bowl ballot

If we're going to have any conversations, they should instead include comparisons to Steve Young in 1994 and Peyton Manning in 2013 and Kurt Warner in 1999 and, yes, Brady in 2007. The question isn't whether Brady is the MVP. The question is whether he is currently orchestrating the greatest individual season in NFL history.

We can point toward all of the obvious statistics. We can point out that Brady has only thrown two interceptions. We can note that Brady is on pace to post the highest single-season fourth-quarter passer rating (141.6) since 1991.

We can even point out that he's leading the league with 22 touchdown passes.

But there are two factors that truly make Brady's season spectacular, factors that are indicative not only of the team success but of the weight on the quarterback's shoulders:

1) The Patriots have run the ball on 35.6 percent of their offensive plays this season, the lowest mark of any Bill Belichick-coached New England team, including his four Super Bowl-winners, which means Brady's burden has never been greater.

2) Brady is spreading the ball around to a nearly unparalleled degree. Only two teams this season have four different players with 100-plus receiving yards in a game: the Saints and the Patriots.

Look, we can talk all day about the "debates" that surround Brady. It is difficult to discuss his individual success without pointing toward the system employed by Belichick. And, of course, even his recent vindication in the court system won't be enough to convince his harshest critics to accept all that he does with a round of applause.

For right now, however, with the spotlight brighter than it has ever been on a quarterback in the game's history, Brady is arguably playing better than anyone has before him. So whether you love him or hate him, we should set aside the conversation about whether Brady is the Most Valuable Player of the 2015 season.

Instead, another debate is worthy of our attention in the season's second half: Is he the most valuable MVP of all time?

Brady is currently making one hell of a case.

Follow Jeff Darlington on Twitter @JeffDarlington.

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