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Football fans love a good MVP discussion. We are going to have one here after Brock Purdy’s San Francisco 49ers ran the defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles off their own field on Sunday.
Jalen Hurts, Dak Prescott, Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes and Tua Tagovailoa entered Week 13 as betting favorites to win the award. Purdy was next, followed by a big drop to Josh Allen and C.J. Stroud in the next tier.
It’s time to reassess not only the MVP race, but where Purdy fits into it after leading San Francisco to touchdown drives on six consecutive possessions against the Eagles — only the fifth time an offense has done that since at least 2000, per TruMedia.
This edition of the Pick Six column strips away everything anyone has thought about Purdy and his role in the 49ers’ success, focusing instead on pure production. I’ve pulled the relevant numbers for the past 10 MVP quarterbacks and will show exactly how the 2023 contenders stack up, with special attention on Purdy.
- MVP race: The case for Brock Purdy
- Playoff race: Packers & biggest swings
- Looking toward the 2024 coach hiring cycle
- Let’s not overthink offensive declines
- Putting a roof over Geno Smith’s head
- Two-minute drill: LSU’s Daniels over North Carolina’s Maye
1. Not long ago, we were discussing whether Brock Purdy was a legitimate starting quarterback. Now, we are asking whether he’s a legitimate MVP candidate. The production says yes. So does the context.
Purdy finished the 49ers’ 42-19 victory against the Eagles with 314 yards and four touchdown passes. His receivers accounted for 212 yards after the catch, which plays into the thinking Purdy benefits from his receivers disproportionately. He does not on the whole.
YAC accounts for 48.5 percent of Purdy’s passing yards this season. The average is 47 percent for starting quarterbacks. The average was 48 percent for the past 10 MVP quarterbacks. Mahomes was at 54 percent during his 2022 MVP season.
This sacks the YAC argument against Purdy.
Researching where the past 10 MVP quarterbacks ranked in key categories within their award-winning seasons creates a profile we can apply to Purdy and the other betting favorites. The table below shows where those MVPs ranked in combined EPA on pass plays/QB rushes, EPA per pass play and total touchdowns.
2. The Green Bay Packers’ big victory against the Kansas City Chiefs improved their playoff chances significantly. Here’s how those chances changed for every team in Week 13.
Dramatic finishes in Week 13 altered the playoff landscape.
Jimmie Ward’s interception for Houston off Denver’s Russell Wilson in the final minute secured a victory that upped the Texans’ playoff chances from 50-50 to 70-30, while cutting the Broncos’ chances in half to roughly 10 percent. That game produced the largest combined swing for a single game in Week 13.
Using the model Austin Mock maintains for The Athletic, I’ve produced a table showing every team’s playoff chances, and how those chances changed in Week 13. Playoff Chance Swings in Week 13
The Packers’ chances have improved from 15 percent to 25 percent to 53 percent to 67 percent during their three-game winning streak against the Los Angeles Chargers, Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs. The Packers were underdogs in every game. They could be favored to win over the course of their remaining schedule, which features the New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears.
Green Bay quarterback Jordan Love now ranks 12th in EPA per pass play. The Packers’ offense ranks 10th in EPA per play. Coach Matt LaFleur improved to 16-0 in December and can make it 20-0 if his Packers can beat the Giants, Bucs, Panthers and Vikings. It’s a new day in Green Bay.
3. The 2024 head coach hiring cycle is fast approaching, and with it the search for the next Kyle Shanahan or Sean McVay.
The favorite to win NFL Coach of the Year was never a primary play caller before leading the Detroit Lions back from the dead into prime playoff positioning. Will Dan Campbell’s success affect the 2024 hiring cycle? Will Campbell be a one-off? Are there enough offensive play callers to go around?