By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Tom Brady has not been able to maintain his blistering start to the season, and the 40-year-old was not completely excellent on Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

Nevertheless, he’s still probably the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.

Or, to put it more accurately, he may be the Last Man Standing. Carson Wentz went down with a season-ending injury last week. Antonio Brown appears to be done, too. Russell Wilson, a longshot to win the award, turned in a dreadful performance on Sunday at home in a 42-7 loss. The other QBs of top teams — in descending order of worthiness from Drew Brees, Jared Goff, Alex Smith, Ben Roethlisberger, Blake Bortles and Case Keenum — don’t have the statistics to hang with Brady.

And the Patriots are in position to finish the year as the best team in the AFC — possibly the NFL — with Brady turning in an excellent season at quarterback. The award is likely his.

After Sunday’s performance (22-for-35, 298 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), Brady remains first in the NFL in passing yards, first in yards per attempt, third in touchdowns, and third in passer rating. Though another interception Sunday upped his total to seven on the season, his 4-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio is still better than Brees’ 3-to-1, Goff’s 3.43-to-1, Wilson’s 2.72-to-1, or Roethlisberger’s 1.86-to-1. Among the league’s active top QBs this year, only Alex Smith’s 5-to-1 ratio is better.

But all of that statistical analysis may be overkill. What the award often comes down to is the quarterback of the best team in the NFL, provided that quarterback has put up excellent numbers. Brady has done that.

READ: Leftover Patriots Thoughts

He’ll finish the season with 12 or, more likely, 13 victories. He’ll rank in the top three of every statistical category, and he’ll have completed one of the finest seasons of his Hall of Fame career.

Brady hasn’t won the award since 2010, when he was the first-ever unanimous selection. He may not be the runaway winner this year like he was then, but a third MVP award will put him in rare company. Only Peyton Manning, Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas and Brett Favre have won the award three or more times.

Of course, as has been well-publicized in the past year, a quarterback winning the MVP has often spelled doom for his team. An NFL MVP quarterback has not won the Super Bowl since Kurt Warner in 1999. Since then, Warner (2001), Rich Gannon (2002), Brady (2007), Manning (2009, 2013), Cam Newton (2015) and Matt Ryan (2016) all went on to lose in the Super Bowl. Other QB MVP wins in that span — Manning and Steve McNair in 2003, Manning in 2004 and 2008, Brady in 2010, Aaron Rodgers in 2011 and 2014 — all had their seasons end before reaching the Super Bowl.

In that sense, the award has proven to be somewhat of a curse for quarterbacks in the new century. But based on what we’ve seen out of Brady at his advanced age, if anyone can break the streak, Brady would be the leading candidate.

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

Comments (23)
  1. Don McCoy says:

    LOL! Nobody cares about the NFL anymore.

  2. Helps when the refs are on your side too.

  3. Brady does not deserve. Carson Wentz does. To crown Brady at this time would only put another proverbial nail in the NFL’s coffin!

  4. Phil Niko says:

    Q: When is a touchdown not a touchdown? A: When it’s a go ahead score against the cheaters from New England.

  5. Maybe the ref that “stole” the TD from the Steelers could be MVP…thought NFL could not get lower, then yesterdays Steelers “screw the pooch” call, and a bogus “notecard measurement” for Dallas…what a sham…bunch of infants

  6. Brady has been dreadful lately He has two TDs and 4 INTs in his last three games Vs Bills, Dolphins and Steelers who all have mediocre pass defenses.

    Russel Wilson has 7 TDs and 3 INTs in his last three games Vs the Rams, Jags, and Eagles who are all playoff teams with top ranked defenses.

  7. mickrussom says:

    NFL sucks now.

  8. rufusvondufus says:

    The Patriots ought to give the MVP to the replay officials at Sunday’s Steelers’s game!

  9. rufusvondufus says:

    “He didn’t survive the ground,” huh! What did they call it when his knee struck the ground 2.5 seconds before he lurched into the end zone? The Steelers were cheated by the effing NFL replay officials twice. That call and the failure to call interference on the last play when the defender hit the receiver before the ball arrived. I am done with the crooked and disgusting overpaid morons who kneel as well as those who run the league.

  10. Murray Reed says:

    “the award has proven to be somewhat of a curse for quarterbacks in the new century” A curse? Really? Grow up.

  11. Greta Jones says:

    Brady and the Pats are cheaters!

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