By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — We’re in the 13th week of the NFL season, and popular opinion seems to suggest that the race for the NFL MVP Award is between Tom Brady and Carson Wentz.
In that debate at this juncture, the winner should be Brady, who has significantly better numbers in every single area except touchdowns.
But what about a candidate who deserves much more attention than he’s getting?
Out in Seattle, Russell Wilson has been as close to a one-man band as is possible in the sport of football. The numbers are truly insane.
The quarterback, who turned 29 on Wednesday, has thrown for 3,029 yards, tied with Drew Brees for third-most in the league. He’s thrown 23 touchdowns, which is also third-most in the NFL behind the aforementioned MVP front-runners.
But what’s most stunning is that Wilson has not only represented the entirety of the Seattle passing game. He’s also been the team’s only reliable rusher.
Through 11 games, Wilson has rushed for 401 yards — nearly double that of the next-leading rusher, Chris Carson at 208.
Of the 1,132 Seattle rushing yards this season, Wilson accounts for 35 percent of them.
What’s more: Of Seattle’s four rushing touchdowns, Wilson has three.
That means either through the air or on the ground, Wilson has accounted for 26 of the Seahawks’ 27 offensive touchdowns. Through 11 games, the Seahawks’ offense has scored just one touchdown that didn’t require Wilson to either throw it or run for it. Ninety-six percent of the offense’s touchdowns have been generated by Wilson.
And mind you, this is not on some hopeless Browns team. This is on a 7-4 squad that’s one game out of first place in the NFC West and is in a virtual tie for the second wild-card spot in the highly competitive NFC. (They lose the tiebreaker with Atlanta, at the moment, so they’re technically outside of the playoff picture.)
It also hasn’t taken place on a team that’s led by a thoroughly dominant defense anymore, as Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor have suffered season-ending injuries. The Seahawks still rank eighth in yards allowed and ninth in points allowed, but it’s a far cry from when the team led the league in points allowed for four straight years from 2012-15.
A difficult schedule lies ahead for Wilson — he’ll face the Eagles, Jaguars and Rams in the next three weeks — so his road to the postseason remains an uphill climb. But the man is almost single-handedly doing everything for an offense that somehow ranks in the top 10 for both points and yards per game. He’s leading the seventh-best passing attack and the 20th-ranked rushing attack despite not having any running backs to help.
By comparison — and not that this is a knock on Brady or Wentz — look at Philadelphia and New England.
The Eagles have gotten 1,375 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns from non-quarterbacks.
The Patriots have gotten 1,232 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns from non-quarterbacks.
The Seahawks have gotten 732 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown from non-quarterbacks.
Tally it all up, and Wilson’s 401 rushing yards and 3,029 passing yards account for 83 percent of the Seahawks’ total yards from scrimmage. Eighty-three percent.
Yet, Wilson probably won’t win the award. Traditionally, the award goes to the best quarterback on the best team. It won’t be an outrage if and when Wentz or Brady wins. It just would be ideal if there were some proper form of recognition for the player who is most valuable to his team. Without Wilson, the Seahawks may well be in the mix for the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft. They might be winless. Instead, they’re very much alive in the playoff race in one of the NFC’s best years as a conference.
It would be nearly impossible to have more value than that.
(Home team in CAPS; Wednesday lines)
Washington (-2) over DALLAS
Things are going so poorly for the Cowboys (three straight losses by a combined score of 92-22) that you have to believe they’re simply overdue for a turnaround. But at the same time, if they’re just going to fall flat on their face on Thanksgiving, when they know everybody in the whole country is watching, what will be different this week?
So, yes, sadly, another night of misery on national TV for Jerry Jones. America will surely sympathize.
And in a story that’s neither here nor there, just about every photo taking during a late-afternoon game in Dallas looks freaking incredible.
Cowboys stink, though.
JACKSONVILLE (-9.5) over Indianapolis
Very, very disappointed in my dear sweet Jags. They really let me down last week.
However, the boys from #Sacksonville started the year with a distinct pattern of one week on, one week off. They’re clearly just going back to what works.
Kansas City (-3.5) over NEW YORK JETS
The Chiefs are going to win again. Right? RIGHT? Plus, Darrelle Revis in his return to New York will probably intercept five passes, because the Jets are still paying him and that would be very, very funny.
Houston (+7) over TENNESSEE
I’m not sure if you caught wind of this, but earlier this week, by the power vested in me by the state of Massachusetts, I relegated the entire AFC South to the CFL. I’m just absolutely fed up with the dreadful play of all four teams right now. While I still believe in My Jags™, I’m not happy with them. And the Colts, Texans and Titans just absolutely stink.
Sorry for the foul language, but it needed to be said.
Anyway, move this game up to Manitoba and get it as far away from me as possible.
BALTIMORE (-2.5) over Detroit
MIAMI (+1.5) over Denver
Tampa Bay (Pick ’em) over GREEN BAY
Los Angeles Rams (-7) over ARIZONA
Carolina (+4.5) over NEW ORLEANS
So my overall record in picks this year isn’t great. It’s 80-88-8. Eights are wild. But I’m going to spin it like this: I’m a second-half performer.
Much like the Patriots, who take a while to figure things out, I take about eight weeks or so to really get a grasp on the league. So you can just take my 48-67-4 record through eight weeks and throw it in the trash. The real record that matters? That would be my 32-21-4 record in Weeks 9-12. I’m basically really, really good at this.
Thank you for listening to my spin.
ATLANTA (-3) over Minnesota
On Wednesday, Adam Schefter wrote these words on Twitter: “potential NFL MVP Case Keenum.”
I took the day off from work as protest.
As karma, Vikings will finally lose a football game. We all need to ground ourselves here on these Minnesota Vikings. Thank you very much.
New England (-9) over BUFFALO
The idea of the Bills keeping this one close is not at all foolish. It’s just, you simply cannot go against the Patriots right now. They played pretty poorly, by their standards, against the Dolphins, and they won by 18 points. Brady had a mediocre day, and he threw for four touchdowns. Dion Lewis, who once slaughtered the Bills in Buffalo after Rex Ryan needlessly disrespected him, looks like the most elusive back in football. And Stephon Gilmore has figured things out just in time for his return to Buffalo, where everybody is going to hate him so, so bad.
The Bills, who allowed a ridiculous 45 points per game from Weeks 9-11, cleaned things up last week when they faced Alex Smith. But facing Tom Brady is slightly more of a challenge.
San Francisco (+3.5) over CHICAGO
It’s James Garoppolo time, baby! The Niners may still stink, but they have a handsome, magical prince slinging deep balls for them now. I legitimately can’t wait to watch that beautiful man escape pressure, throw on the run, and celebrate in his hometown. Can we move this game to prime time, please?
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-14) over Cleveland
Do you want to know what pure misery is? I’ll tell you what pure misery is. It’s the Cleveland Browns.
They’re obviously 0-11 on the year, which now makes them 4-39 since 2015. FOUR AND THIRTY-NINE!
What’s more, in point differential, they rank dead last, which is where they finished last year and in 2015.
They are so bad. They are impossibly bad. And they’re probably going to become the second team to ever go 0-16.
And now one of the worst defenses in the NFL has to deal with a warm Chargers offense in Southern California.
OAKLAND (-8) over New York Giants
If you’re the Oakland Raiders and you just lost one receiver to suspension and another receiver to a bad concussion, you’d have to really luck into something crazy like your opponent randomly deciding to start Geno Smith at quarterback in order to feel good about your chances of winning.
Speaking of which, while everyone was dumping all over Ben McAdoo (always justified) for the decision to bench Elisha, where was brave Mr. Mara? The same guy who meekly stood by as the world found out about the Josh Brown cover-up was conveniently not in the building the day the team dumped its franchise quarterback. As if BEN MCADOO actually has the authority to make that kind of decision without approval from the top.
I’ll be surprised if the Giants even resemble an NFL team after this fiasco. They already sort of looked like a team that had quit under McAdoo. This ought to be the final nail.
SEATTLE (+6) over Philadelphia
I do very much believe in the Eagles this year, but I can’t help but feel like they have to at least stumble at some point this season, you know? And even though we’ve dissected the weaknesses of the Seahawks team while analyzing Wilson’s value, Seattle remains a challenging place to play.
CINCINNATI (+5.5) over Pittsburgh
I don’t think the Bengals will win (Andy Dalton and Marvin Lewis together are 1-947 in their 948 prime-time games together, and that’s a fact) but I do believe enough Bengals will be ticked off by Mike Tomlin talking about the Steelers’ Week 15 meeting with the Patriots that they’ll both be inspired to play aggressively and also play slightly illegally. This won’t be an easy win for the Steelers. There might even be some fireworks.
Last week: 9-6-1
Second Half Of Season (Which Is The Only Half That Actually Matters, Obviously): 32-21-4