With Super Bowl LII almost upon us, many notable names should be considered strong potential candidates for the game’s MVP. Let’s take a look at some of the most likely Super Bowl MVP’s this year.
Super Bowl LII is a showcase of the best football has to offer. It is a game between the two premier teams on the planet whose rosters consists of the greatest players in the NFL all competing for the prestigious Lombardi Trophy.
With that, the title of “Super Bowl MVP” holds great honor for those players who do win it. While not the measure of the season-long consistency that the similarly titled “NFL MVP” is, the winner of the Super Bowl MVP can legitimately say that they were able to step up on the grandest stage of them all and for 60 minutes, they were the best player on the best rosters of the best teams. They were the most instrumental piece in providing their franchise with the greatest honor any team could have. A Super Bowl victory.
Except, of course, for Chuck Howley of the 1971 Dallas Cowboys whose team happened to lose despite his MVP honors.
Unlucky Chucky (and poor name rhyme) aside, these players tend to go down in team lore as heroes for their respected franchises. The award has been known to make legends out of journeymen and cement legacies of superstars.
This year’s contest features no shortage of established NFL stars and should make for one heck of a ball game. But who will be the lucky man to walk out with his arms raised above his head and, in all likelihood, a Super Bowl ring on his finger? Here are the top five candidates to win MVP of Super Bowl LII.
5. Wide Receiver Danny Amendola
Danny Amendola is no stranger to clutch play in big games.
Look no further than his team’s last game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship game. The former undrafted wideout hauled in seven catches for 84 yards including two crucial fourth-quarter touchdowns that helped give the Patriots the win and send the team to Minneapolis.
Amendola is such a renown playoff performer that his teammates have given him nicknames such as “Danny Playoff” or simply “Playoff ‘Dola.” As such, it’s no surprise that the so-called Patriots “secret weapon” comes in at number five on this list.
While he may not be a star quarterback or even the most talented receiver on the team, Amendola’s timely ability for the big play in even bigger games makes him one of the most clutch performers in the NFL today.
It’s easy to go with a player like Rob Gronkowski here considering his track record and unquestionable talent. But it’s likely the Eagles defense will key in on Gronk, concussion and all, which might open up some looks for the unheralded Amendola.
There’s a good chance nickel cornerback Patrick Robinson will be matched up with Amendola, who plays primarily in the slot. While Robinson has by most standards been a reliable option for the Eagles, don’t be surprised if Bill Belichick is able to draw up certain schemes to get Amendola the ball in critical situations. Even if he’s quiet for most of the day, the Eagles should always keep an eye out for Danny Playoff as he can never be doubted in pivotal moments.
Amendola may not be the most likely candidate for this year’s Super Bowl MVP, but his entire career to this point has been “unlikely.” An undrafted receiver out of Texas Tech back in 2008, Amendola has been able to carve out quite the career for himself and adding a Super Bowl MVP accolade would only grow his legacy in New England.
At the very least expect him to make a clutch catch or two and live up to his moniker as “Playoff ‘Dola.” Or “Danny Playoff,” whichever you prefer.
Next: 4. LeGarrette Blount
4. Running Back LeGarrette Blount
Everybody loves a good revenge game.
Despite putting up career-high numbers in virtually every statistical category last season with the Patriots, including 18 rushing touchdowns which were the most in an NFL season since Adrian Peterson way back in 2009, New England offered Blount a discount contract and opted to move on from the talented tailback once he rejected their offer.
Don’t think he doesn’t remember that.
Blount is a bruising running back who may not bring the flash but certainly brings the substance. He’s not the type of player to break off a 60-yard run with cuts and jukes. Rather, he’s someone to trust inside the 10-yard line to score more often than not, hence his propensity for touchdowns.
This could serve him well when it comes to contending for this year’s Super Bowl MVP award as all it takes is a couple of key touchdowns in critical times of the game to throw his name into contention. It’s certainly reasonable for Blount to put together a 75-yard, two touchdown performance against a porous New England run defense. Throw in a score at just the right time and Blount could very well find himself as the front-runner for the game’s MVP honors.
Working against him, however, is the fact that the Eagles tend to run a backfield by committee with both Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement getting regular touches. In fact, Ajayi has been the leading back as of late which significantly decreases Blount’s odds of making a large impact due to his sheer volume of touches, or lack thereof.
Still, never overlook the emotional factors at stake for a player like Blount. This is his chance to show the Patriots what they missed out on. This is his chance to forge his legacy as an Eagle while sticking it to the team that disrespected his talent. This is his chance to prove Belichick and the Patriots wrong, a rare occasion indeed.
They say that football is half mental and half physical. Luckily for Blount, those are two areas where he will likely excel in come Sunday.
Next: 3. Dion Lewis
3. Running Back Dion Lewis
From one revenge story to another.
Much like Blount, Lewis’ story is that of an athlete with a chip on his shoulder facing his former team eager for revenge on the biggest stage in professional football. The versatile running back was originally drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft but failed to make much of an impact in his two seasons in the City of Brotherly Love before he was unceremoniously traded to the Cleveland Browns for reserve linebacker Emmanuel Acho.
Lewis never ended up playing a down for the Browns as he missed the entire 2013 season with a fractured fibula and was subsequently released before the start of the 2014 season. A brief stint in Indianapolis lasted just a week before he was released once more and ultimately scooped up by the Patriots towards the end of the year. The rest, as they say, is history.
The former Pittsburgh Panther began the year as a rotational back splitting time with Mike Gilislee, James White, and Rex Burkhead before fully breaking out and becoming the Patriots first true feature back in years. While he may not be a household name yet, Lewis is quickly becoming one of the league’s best all-around backs.
The underrated veteran averaged a spectacular 5.0 yards per carry while amassing over 1,000 total yards and nine total touchdowns. That’s some impressive output considering he didn’t manage any meaningful playing time until Week 5.
Perhaps Lewis’ true value comes with his versatility in all aspects of the game. He is a fantastic pass catcher exhibited by his superb 91.4 catch percentage making him one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets. His pass blocking ability only adds to his usefulness in the passing game. Meanwhile, Lewis is extremely surehanded having not fumbled once during the 2017 season.
All of this should help fuel Lewis’ drive to exceed expectations against his former team as nothing motivates a player more than revenge. “Little Dirty,” as his teammates call him, could break out in a similar fashion to how his teammate James White did last year having the game of his life in Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons. There’s no reason Lewis can’t do that and more come Sunday as the Pats look to repeat as Super Bowl champs.
All eyes may be on Brady this weekend, but Dion Lewis will be the Patriot with some extra motivation in the form of vengeance.
Next: 2. Nick Foles
2. Quarterback Nick Foles
Eight of the last eleven Super Bowl MVP’s have been quarterbacks so it should be no surprise that Foles lands so high on this list.
Foles has the chance to forever establish himself as a hero in the city of Philadelphia. Whatever happens after this season, whether he remains with the team or finds a home elsewhere, a Super Bowl victory, paired with a Super Bowl MVP honor, would confirm Foles as a legend in the eyes of Eagles fans everywhere.
It would be the perfect ending to a storybook tale which goes a little something like this.
The Arizona product began his career as an Eagle backing up the incumbent Michael Vick before injuries gave him his first taste of NFL action. Although Vick would eventually regain the starting position the following season, injuries once again forced Foles into the starting lineup and this time he wouldn’t give it up so easily.
Foles went on to have one of the most improbable seasons from a quarterback in recent memory throwing 27 touchdowns as opposed to just two interceptions in 10 starts. His QB rating skyed upwards to 120.0 and his completion percentage was an excellent 64.0% which ultimately earned him a Pro Bowl nod. This would prove to be the high point of Foles’ first tenure in Philly, however.
After an inconsistent, injury-filled 2014 season, Foles was dealt to the then St. Louis Rams in a trade that sent Sam Bradford to the Eagles. The team that he had grown and matured with as both a player and a professional had lost hope in him and decided that he wasn’t the future.
Foles only spent one season with the Rams, which turned out to be the worst of his career. He had career lows in essentially every major category, except interceptions, and was benched twice in favor of Case Keenum. The former Eagle was granted his release following the season and after a brief stint as a backup in Kansas City, Foles returned to the city that he had once called home.
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Only this time he was no longer the future. He was signed to back up the future in quarterback Carson Wentz.
As the story goes, Wentz went on to have an MVP-caliber season before tragically suffering a torn ACL in Week 14. Foles was once again called upon to be the savior in Philly and despite less-than-perfect play from the veteran, the Eagles managed to make it to Super Bowl LII.
So here we are. It’s make or break time for Foles. If the Eagles win on Sunday, it’s more than likely that Foles will win MVP of the game and secure his place as a folk hero in the city of Philadelphia.
Will it happen? That remains to be seen.
But it’s hard to think of any better ending to the tumultuous tale that is the story of Nick Foles.
Next: 1. Tom Brady
1. Quarterback Tom Brady
Honestly who else would it be?
Tom Brady is a 13-time Pro Bowler, five-time Super Bowl champion, and two-time league MVP. He also just so happens to be a four-time Super Bowl MVP, which is the most by any player in NFL history. There’s no question about it. Brady is the odds-on favorite to be the big game’s MVP for the second consecutive season and third time in the past four years.
Now as a writer, it is my duty to put aside any preconceived biases towards any player and/or team that I may not be the fondest of in actuality. Being a die-hard New York Jets fan, this is difficult to do for Brady and the Patriots.
That being said, Brady is one of, if not the greatest quarterback of all time. There is no other player that would be trusted to prevail in critical moments with the degree of consistency that Brady manages. His clutchness is unmatched by any football player, hell maybe any athlete to ever play a sport.
Whatever your thoughts may be on the guy both on and off the field, that quality should be undisputed. Call him a cheater. Call him a system QB. Call him overrated. But the one thing that you MUST call him is clutch.
And for that reason, he has to be the favorite for Super Bowl MVP any time he competes in such a game. Brady is the reason the Patriots are favored in this game and if they win, he will be the reason they return home to Foxborough with a record sixth Super Bowl title.
And the football world will let out a collective sigh.