Alex Smith, Kareem Hunt headline early NFL MVP race

Each season, the NFL sees exciting new twists like the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets ahead of the New England Patriots in the AFC East or the New York Giants starting winless in their first five games. Sometimes things don’t change, which is the case for the struggling Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Chargers.

This year, one area where there’s some surprising changes so far is the MVP race. The season is still young but the half-way mark is approaching, so here’s a look at the early candidates for the NFL’s most valuable player.

Alex Smith is probably the most surprising, yet most impressive, MVP candidate so far.

The Chiefs are undefeated through their first five games, and Smiths’ play is a big part of the teams success. Smith has thrown nearly 1,400 yards, 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions. His efficiency has helped him earn a passer rating of 125.8, and it certainly helps that he completes over 75 percent of his passes.

Alex Smith isn’t exactly the clear front runner for the award because there’s a teammate of his who’s putting up elite numbers, and he’s only a rookie.

The Chiefs average the second-most rushing yards in the league courtesy of Kareem Hunt. After five games, Hunt has 609 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 97 carries. He’s first in the league in rushing yards, yards per game, rushes for 20+ yards and rushes for 40+ yards. He’s also a capable receiving back with 17 receptions for 166 yards and two touchdowns.

The first two candidates are definitely surprising, but the next two are usually in this conversation every year.

Tom Brady has been an ageless wonder. At the age of 40, Brady has thrown for a league-leading 1,702 yards. He’s averaging almost 350 passing yards per game, and he’s thrown 11 touchdowns and just one interception. The Patriots offense, led by Brady, averages the most total yards per game with 419, and it’s the reason why the Patriots have a 3-2 record instead of 1-4 or 0-5.

Despite an inconsistent running game and a shaky offensive line, Aaron Rodgers is still one of, if not the best, all-around quarterbacks in the NFL.

Rodgers leads the NFL with 13 touchdown passes, and he’s thrown for just under 1,400 yards. Green Bay isn’t a great all-around team, but Rodgers’ has been clutch early. He’s helped lead the Packers to a division lead and a 4-1 start, including big wins over the Seahawks, Bengals and Cowboys.

Some honourable mentions so far are Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson, Drew Brees, Leonard Fournette, Todd Gurley, Antonio Brown and Zach Ertz. All these players have been playing very well to start the season, and they’re key contributors for their respective teams. They might not be in MVP considerations now, but they’re definitely worth keeping an eye on as the season continues to play out. It’s still pretty early and anything can happen but, for now, the Chiefs seem to be leading the charge in the standings and in the MVP race.

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