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SENSATIONAL VS. SENTIMENT: Brees-Mahomes League MVP Race Going Down to the Wire

The 2018 NFL MVP Award. It’s obviously something that’s become a very passionate topic for Saints fans in recent days, as the race for this season’s award now comes “down to the wire” on its final weekend between the two leading candidates: Saints 18th year veteran and future Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees vs. upstart 2nd year Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes.

Who Dats are hoping to eventually see the team’s greatest player ever in Brees, earn the one award that’s eluded him for his entire career.

However, there are plenty of variables that Saints fans need to take into consideration before getting themselves all worked up into a frenzy, as has been the case since on Social Media in recent days after many established sporting bettors and casinos have listed Mahomes as the current favorite.

But here’s something in particular that Who Dats should know,

To begin with, the actual award itself is presented by the Associated Press, which has presented an MVP award since 1957. The award is voted upon by a panel of 50 sportswriters at the end of the regular season, before the playoffs, though the results are not announced to the public until the day before the Super Bowl.

However, those same 50 sportswriters — who are based throughout a wide variety of different NFL cities across the nation — as of this moment are likely weighing several factors (or in this case perhaps the main factor if we’re being completely honest); which could be to CONTROL the narrative, which entails the opportunity to tell the best story (or stories) that can be told about that year’s award winner.

And the current narrative that’s being driven behind the scenes at the moment has now come down to one simple idea or notion, which is “sensational vs. sentiment”.

You see in the eyes of many of these writers, especially those who come from a younger generation, they view Mahomes as the “hot”, fresh, new, young, exciting, sensational superstar; while “Old Man” Brees has ALREADY HAD his “feel good story” told, back when the Saints won their one and only Super Bowl title in 2009.

To be fair, that’s probably not how all 50 of them personally view it of course, but you can bet that’s pretty close to the current narrative being driven / influenced / coerced by certain members of the media, particularly the writers out West and in the Midwest (and probably the East Coast in cities such as Boston, Philadelphia, and New York, as well).

But if the voters are being completely honest with themselves, then sentiment should win out — not because Brees deserves the award as a “lifetime achievement”, but also because a very strong argument can be made on Brees’ behalf for his overall performance THIS season.

Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The soon-to-be 40 year old (his birthday is in 2 more weeks) has led the Saints to the League’s best overall win-loss record at (13-2), along with clinching home-field advantage throughout the entire length of the NFL Playoffs. Meanwhile, Mahomes has the Chiefs on top of the AFC at (11-4) overall, but K.C. has lost their last two games in a row.

Additionally, Brees has led New Orleans to 13 wins in their past 14 games and has the better results against teams with a winning record, going (6-1) overall to only (3-4) for Mahomes. However, Brees also separates himself from Mahomes against teams headed for the NFL Playoffs, as well.

The wily veteran has a whopping total of 6 (yes, six of them) fourth-quarter comeback victories this season, the most in the entire League. That includes wins over Playoff-bound teams the Baltimore Ravens and the Los Angeles Rams, the team that many feel New Orleans will possibly end up facing in the NFC Championship Game later next month.

On the flip side of things, Mahomes only has just two such wins to his credit: but what will likely hurt his chances at winning much more is the fact that the 22-year old Tyler, Texas native has lost in “prime time” to a total of three current Playoff-bound teams: the Rams, the New England Patriots, and most recently the Los Angeles Chargers just two weeks ago,

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Nevertheless, there are some observers who notably seem to have been in favor of giving the award to Mahomes; that are quick to point out that it was the Chiefs defense that was responsible for two of those losses; since the young “gunslinger” had actually led Kansas City back to retake the lead late in the final quarter in games against both the Patriots and Rams, only to watch his defense give away the opportunity to win the game at the end.

Other factors in Brees’ favor at the moment likely include completion percentage (Brees currently is about to set an NFL single-season record at 74.4 percent, compared to Mahomes’ 66.4 percent), interceptions (Brees has thrown only 5 compared to 11 for Mahomes), and QBR / quarterback rating (Brees has a rating of 115.7, compared to Mahomes’ 114.0).

Mahomes though leads Brees in several key factors in his own right; among them which include TD passes (Mahomes has a commanding lead with 48, to only 32 for Brees), passing yardage (Mahomes has 4,816 yards compared to Brees’ 3,992), and “Big Plays” — a category that’s defined as completed pass attempts greater than 25 yards or more downfield — in which Mahomes leads with 49 of them, to only 35 for Brees.

What Saints fans also need to remember is that the voters will be weighing other “outlying factors” as well; the most notable being the recent 3-game road trip that the Saints embarked on after Thanksgiving.

Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

As it was very succinctly pointed out yesterday by ESPN NFL lead writer Bill Barnwell: Brees’ three-game slide after Thanksgiving hurt him dramatically, since he posted a passer rating of just 77.0 over that three-game run, averaging just 5.6 yards per attempt with more interceptions (three) than passing touchdowns (two).

New Orleans ended up going (2-1) during that stretch of three straight weeks on the road, but that was thanks mostly to their defense.

Barnwell also notes that Mahomes didn’t have any similar type of stretch of games in which he struggled like Brees did; and adds that the youngster has posted only one passer rating under 100 over the past 10 games, and it was against the Ravens, who have one of the best pass defenses in the entire League.

Bottom line: this award will clearly be going “down to the wire”, which means essentially that the winner will be determined mostly by the PERSONAL PREFERENCE of each of the 50 writers / voters.

Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

How each one of the 50 writers will vote is uncertain at this point; but it’s become quite evident that the narrative of sensational vs. sentiment will likely weigh very heavily upon each of their individual choices.

For Saints fans, seeing Brees win the award would be the proverbial “icing on the cake” so to speak, and especially if the team is fortunate enough to advance all the way to Super Bowl LIII (53) in Atlanta.

That’s a story narrative as good as any other one out there that’s being pushed or driven by the National Media right now — and one that Who Dats are hoping will eventually see the team’s greatest player ever in Drew Brees, earn the one award that’s eluded him for his entire career….

 

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Saints News Network Featured Columnist (and Big Easy Magazine's Saints writer) Barry Hirstius is a 51-year old semi-retired journalist, former New Orleans-area sports editor, and columnist previously with several sites that exclusively cover the New Orleans Saints football team. Additionally, he is a recurring guest on a variety of local Sports Talk Radio programs. Barry is also a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the team while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium in the early 1970’s, originally following and now covering the team for a span of over 40 plus years. And perhaps most importantly of all: he is the Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.....

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