5 surprise candidates for the NFL MVP award in 2022

Matt Ryan is expected to bounce back in Indianapolis
Matt Ryan is expected to bounce back in Indianapolis

Aaron Rodgers has been the standout performer in the NFL for the past two years, and the Green Bay Packers quarterback was selected as the league’s MVP for both seasons.

The expectation is that Rodgers will once again be in the conversation for the award for the upcoming season, irrespective of Davante Adams’ departure to Las Vegas. However, there are a number of players who are going under the radar as possible outside candidates to be MVP in 2022.

Tom Brady’s return from his very brief retirement has opened up the MVP conversation even further, especially if he can convince Rob Gronkowski to return to Tampa Bay.

From a veteran in a new environment to a dominant defensive disrupter, there are some surprise contenders this year. Here is a look at five such surprise candidates to become MVP after the upcoming season.


#1. Matt Ryan

The Indianapolis Colts expect Ryan to lead them to the playoffs
The Indianapolis Colts expect Ryan to lead them to the playoffs

Matt Ryan was named the NFL MVP for his performances in the 2016 season, when he carried the Atlanta Falcons to the Super Bowl.

Since that dramatic defeat to the New England Patriots, Matty Ice has seen his form with Atlanta dip as the quality of receivers around him dwindled.

Taking inspiration from the Los Angeles Rams’ success after pursuing a trade for Matthew Stafford, the Indianapolis Colts made an offseason move to bring Ryan in to be the actual replacement for Andrew Luck.

Ryan is a veteran player who can throw the ball as well as anyone in the league. He has thrown for a minimum of 20 touchdowns in each of his NFL seasons, excluding his rookie year, and has thrown for over 4,500 yards in seven of his 14 professional seasons.

Being in a new environment with an exciting offense could rejuvenate Ryan. If he quickly builds a connection with Michael Pittman JR, the former Falcon could string together another MVP-calibre year.


2. Matthew Stafford

Matthew Stafford will be playing without pressure in 2022
Matthew Stafford will be playing without pressure in 2022

Matthew Stafford was under pressure to deliver a Super Bowl championship to Los Angeles, with the Rams having traded for him as the final piece on what was an expensively assembled roster.

In winning the title in the 2021 season, Stafford took a huge monkey off his back, and he can now simply focus on his individual performances.

He produced magnificent throws in his first year with the Rams. But as the pressure to win in the playoffs mounted, the number of small mistakes he made increased.

There will be no such pressure this season, with the Rams having a strong roster and a championship win under their belt. As such, Stafford will be able to play with freedom and utilise the offensive mind of Sean McVay.

The presence of receivers Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson gives Stafford serious options. If he avoids injuries, it’s not unreasonable to expect him to put up MVP numbers in 2022.

3. Josh Allen

Josh Allen has developed consistently since being drafted by Buffalo
Josh Allen has developed consistently since being drafted by Buffalo

Josh Allen’s NFL career with the Buffalo Bills has been an exciting story of consistent progression.

In a city where NFL success has been so scarce, Allen has emerged as the saviour for Buffalo, taking the mantle of the great Jim Kelly on his shoulders.

Allen’s best years came in 2020 and 2021, with him throwing near-identical 4,544 and 4,407 yards, with 37 and 36 touchdowns, respectively.

With the Bills being the team with the most continuity coming out of the offseason, Allen knows his receiving corps should continue to get better.

His performance against Kansas City in the playoffs was MVP-worthy on its own. If he can chain yet another consistent year, he can seriously elevate himself into a position where he is contending for the MVP award again.


4. Myles Garrett

Myles Garrett would need a 20+ sack season to secure end of year honours
Myles Garrett would need a 20+ sack season to secure end of year honours

Only Alan Page and Lawrence Taylor have won the NFL MVP award as defensive players, and Taylor was the last to do so, as far back as 1986.

It is incredibly difficult for a defensive player to win the award, simply because the league is now geared to quite incredible offensive numbers.

JJ Watt made a case to win the award during his Houston Texans career. Aaron Donald has been sensational in the last two seasons but has fallen short of Aaron Rodgers.

Now, it would take a superhuman effort for a defensive player to win the award, but in Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns, there is a generational pass rusher who could do just that.

Garrett is heading into 2022 with his fitness issues resolved, and his 2021 season was his best in the NFL. He recorded 16 sacks and 33 solo tackles.

If Garrett is going to be able to win the trophy, he is going to have to turn that 16 into 20+ sacks in 2022. But that isn’t at all unrealistic, given his incredible power and first-step.

Garrett has looked strong and sharp in the earliest pre-season workouts with the Browns, and that bodes well for his outside hopes of the MVP award.


5. Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan Taylor is arguably the best running back in football
Jonathan Taylor is arguably the best running back in football

Historically, if a quarterback doesn’t take home the NFL MVP award, then it is handed to a running back who has had a career year.

Adrian Peterson was the last non-QB to take the MVP award back in 2012. But with Jonathan Taylor, the Colts have a player who is ready to breakout.

In 2021, he rushed for 1,811 yards in his second season in the league. His rookie year in 2020 saw him rush for 1,169 yards and he is still developing.

Being behind a stronger offensive line and a better quarterback will help Taylor, although he may have to add some receiving options to his arsenal with Ryan in place.

The belief that Taylor is due for a 2,000-yard season is shared within the Colts facility and amongst fans. Once you do that as a running back, you’re always going to be in the MVP discussion.

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Edited by Akshay Saraswat