Todd Gurley has been making his case for the league MVP award for quite some time. His case got a lot stronger over the weekend with the running back's monster performance against the Titans: 22 carries for 118 yards (5.4 yards per carry) and 10 receptions for 158 yards and two touchdowns. That's a grand total of 276 scrimmage yards.
With as well as Rams QB Jared Goff has played in his second NFL season, Gurley has established himself as the heartbeat of Sean McVay's offense. This past weekend, he eclipsed 2,000 scrimmage yards for the season. He's had an incredible year, but to be the MVP of the league as a non-quarterback, you have to have had a historic season. Look back at the last three non-QB MVPs: RB Shaun Alexander (2005), RB LaDainian Tomlinson (2006) and RB Adrian Peterson (2012).
In 2005, Alexander set the league's single-season touchdown record (28), and tied Priest Holmes' record of 27 rushing TDs in a season. In 2006, Tomlinson broke Alexander's record for TDs in a season with 31 (28 rushing) and totaled 2,323 scrimmage yards. In 2012, the year after he tore his ACL, Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards, finishing 8 yards shy of Eric Dickerson's NFL single-season mark.
Gurley is deserving of being in the MVP conversation this year, but if it weren't for two factors, we wouldn't be talking about Gurley in this category at all. First, there's been a TON of injuries to top players this season. Guys have dropped like flies in 2017, and up until Week 14, I had Carson Wentz as my MVP favorite. Antonio Brown, whom I had behind Wentz, went down with a calf injury in Week 15.
And this is the second reason: Tom Brady's recent struggles. Brady had been right up there with Wentz and Brown all season in terms of production, but he has dropped off the last month. Brady's thrown five picks -- and just four touchdown passes -- over his last four games, an uncharacteristic span for the 40-year-old QB. If Brady were playing like Brady, he'd be the MVP -- no questions asked. But because of the lull, we're hearing: Is Father Time catching up? Can Brady's body hold up? Is he slowing down? Well, news flash: He's always been slow.
But seriously, because of the injuries to major players and Brady's poor December, Gurley kind of takes this one by default. Don't get me wrong -- he's had an incredible year. But is it the kind of season recent non-QB MVPs have enjoyed? I'd say no.
Each week in the 2017 campaign, former No. 1 overall pick and NFL Network analyst David Carr will take a look at all offensive players and rank his top 15. Rankings are based solely on this season's efforts. Now, let's get to it -- the Week 17 pecking order is below.
JUST OUTSIDE THE TOP 15:
Case Keenum, QB, Minnesota Vikings: Keenum kept the Vikings moving forward offensively by doing just enough Saturday night at a frozen Lambeau Field. Thanks to a shutout by the Vikings' D, Keenum didn't have to force the ball downfield. He finished with a season-low 139 pass yards, one TD and an 85.2 passer rating. He's led this team to 10 wins this season -- more than he had in his previous five NFL seasons combined as a starting QB.