The 2021 NFL regular season is at its home stretch, and nominees for individual awards continue to display great performances.
With six weeks left, selected writers who cover the sport start to review the merits of each candidate and weigh their achievements against their contemporaries.
While they still have time to determine the rightful winners, these three players build a solid case to become this year’s Associated Press Most Valuable Player awardee.
They’ve exemplified consistency and importance to their respective teams, making them frontrunners for the top individual prize.
Here are the leading NFL MVP candidates before Week 13 of the competition.
3. Dak Prescott
The Dallas Cowboys may be struggling as of late, but Prescott continues to put up solid numbers.
He finished with 375 yards and two touchdowns during their overtime loss against the Las Vegas Raiders.
The former Mississippi State stalwart also threw for 296 yards and two touchdowns to win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Jerry Jones on Dak Prescott: “I’m glad we’ve got him, boy. He’s one of the best. … He got us back in position (to win vs. the Raiders) and I thought he was the deciding difference to get us back in position to have a chance to win the game. And that’s what we ask him to do.” pic.twitter.com/TRomNUybCv
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) December 1, 2021
Prescott has four games of at least 300 passing yards, and his best game was a 445-yard, three-touchdown display against the New England Patriots.
After 10 games played, the Louisiana native has completed 69.4 percent of his passes for 2,932 yards and 22 touchdowns.
He also has one rushing touchdown, which he scored against the Falcons.
His efforts help the Cowboys rank third in passing yards per game (292.4) and tied for second in points per game (29.6).
2. Lamar Jackson
Imagine where the 8-3 Baltimore Ravens would be if not for Lamar Jackson’s efforts?
Take the former Louisville Cardinal out of their system, and it’s hard to see them winning that many games.
Jackson may not be the most accurate passer among all starting quarterbacks.
The Lamar Jackson-Mark Andrews connection was STRONG on these two plays 💯
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 29, 2021
However, he embodies the word “valuable” because he affects the game in multiple ways.
He may have just two rushing touchdowns for the season, but he does everything to keep the chains moving for the Ravens.
The South Florida native is on pace to have his third 1,000 rushing-yard season, and he’s the only quarterback who can brag about that accomplishment.
He was at his best against the Indianapolis Colts, wherein he finished with 442 passing and 62 rushing yards to go with four touchdowns.
In honor of it being Steelers week for the Ravens, here’s Lamar Jackson nicely asking T.J. Watt to get out of his way pic.twitter.com/4NVWpnjBOd
— Kevin Oestreicher (@koestreicher34) November 30, 2021
His 64.2 percent completion percentage is still impressive, and he has 15 passing touchdowns to his credit.
Likewise, Baltimore ranks fourth in total yards (393.5) and second in rushing yards (150.7) per game.
While the Ravens have split their last four games, they need Jackson more than ever to secure their lead in the hotly-contested AFC North.
1. Tom Brady
Is Tom Brady really 44 years old?
It’s incredible what he continues to do in his 22nd NFL season.
Despite the numerous injuries that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face on both sides, Brady remains a calming presence for the 8-3 squad.
Experts counted them out when they lost two straight games against the New Orleans Saints and the Washington Football Team.
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) November 30, 2021
However, Brady brought back order with wins over the New York Giants and the Colts.
Before Week 13, the three-time NFL MVP has the second-most passing yards with 3,403 yards and the most touchdown passes with 30.
He also ranks fourth in quarterback rating at 63.6 and sixth in passer rating at 103.1.
Brady has tons of opportunities to put up big numbers over the coming weeks because four of their last six games are against NFC South teams.