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Matt Calkins: Why the MVP award is Russell Wilson's to lose
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Matt Calkins: Why the MVP award is Russell Wilson's to lose

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SEATTLE — There was one guy right there with him. One guy matching his efficiency. One guy whose production challenged the narrative that the NFL's MVP resides in the state of Washington.

Heading into Sunday's game vs. Tampa Bay, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had put up numbers as good, if not better than Seahawks QB Russell Wilson. His passer rating was just one point below. His QBR _ considered a more advanced metric _ was higher, presumably because he had taken 12 fewer sacks than Wilson.

The former Badgers quarterback's team was also undefeated and posting 38 points per game. Then, Sunday happened, when Aaron was just plain awful.

Folks, we may be only a third of the way through the season, but the NFL MVP award is now Wilson's to lose. There is nobody in the league who has been as precise or consistent, nobody who has been this tough to slow down. Before Rodgers went 16 for 35 with two interceptions and no touchdowns in Sunday's 38-10 loss to the Bucs, you could say Russ had competition. Now, No. 3 is the clear No. 1. So where does he go from here?

Remember, this isn't the first time Wilson was considered the MVP favorite five games into the season. He had a similarly immaculate start last year, then dropped off in the second half.

But something about this year feels different. Something about Wilson's play in 2020 suggests that his dominance will continue in the weeks to come.

For one, he has DK Metcalf. Yes, the receiver was part of Wilson's arsenal last year, but he hadn't blossomed into the nightmare he has become in his second season.

Through five games, Metcalf's 99.2 yards per game are third in the NFL, and his 22.5 yards per catch are tops in the league. Wilson has had productive pass catchers throughout his time with the Seahawks _ names such as Doug Baldwin, Jimmy Graham and Golden Tate come to mind. But he has never had someone as dynamic as 2020 Metcalf.

Russell has made a career out of spreading the ball around, but to have that go-to receiver _ a receiver who caught two fourth-down passes on the Seahawks' final drive in their last game _ makes him more dangerous than he has ever been.

He also appears to have a bit more freedom this season. Wilson has thrown 169 passes this year compared to 156 through five games last year. And 50 of those passes from last season came against the Saints, who took a commanding lead early and forced the Seahawks to throw.

But now it appears "letting Russ cook" has become a part of their weekly game plan. Seattle offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer insists that the team's run-first strategy hasn't changed, but that hasn't been reflected on the field.

Whether they're up or down, the Seahawks are throwing. And when you have a guy playing as well as Wilson is, why wouldn't you?

Wilson's passer rating of 129.8 is nearly 14 points higher than anyone else in the league. His 19 touchdown passes are No. 1 by five. He has averaged 300.4 passing yards per game _ good for fourth in the NFL. And he has tossed just three interceptions _ one of which bounced right off tight end Greg Olsen's hands.

One of the more fascinating aspects to this season is how little Seahawks coach Pete Carroll gets asked about Wilson after games. Normally, scribes go fishing for quotes after a spectacular performance by a given player, but that has seldom been the case with Russell this season.

The reason? His otherworldly performances have commonplace. It has become like prime Wilt Chamberlain dropping a paltry 48 points.

Back to Rodgers for a second. The Super Bowl winner has long held the best career passer rating, with Wilson in second place. That is still true, but the gap has never been this narrow. Sunday's disaster dropped Rodgers' career rating to 102.6, keeping him just ahead of Wilson, who's at 102.4

I suspect that before the season is over, Wilson takes the top spot. He has simply been too good.

Nobody is playing better football right now, and frankly, it's not even all that close.


Photos: Packers' 2020 season so far in pictures

Photos: Packers' 2020 season so far in pictures

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