Philip RiversSEATTLE, WASHINGTON – NOVEMBER 04: Philip Rivers #17 of the Los Angeles Chargers celebrates in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on November 04, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Philip Rivers, the quarterback of the Los Angeles Chargers, is having a superb year so far. Now that is usually something that can be said most years; he is a top 10 quarterback, after all (arguably even top five). But even by his standards, he’s having a superb year. In fact, he’s having the best season of his life thus far. His Chargers team is 6-2 as of this writing and currently tied for second best record in the entire AFC. With all of that, Rivers is having a season where he can be considered an MVP finalist.

2018 Season Stats Thus Far

I actually addressed this topic of Rivers being a possible MVP candidate briefly a couple weeks ago as one section of another article, but now the team is actually halfway through the season and his status as such a candidate has been better cemented. Regarding Rivers’ season thus far: as previously stated, he’s having the best season of his career thus far. Let’s look at just how good he’s been.

So far, he has 19 touchdown passes and only three interceptions. That puts him on pace for a total of 38 touchdowns to six interceptions. Those would be easily the best numbers of his career. His career touchdown pass high is 34, and his career least interceptions are nine. Furthermore, he has a passer rating of 116.5 — which is third in the league right now behind Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees. Also, he currently has the second-best completion percentage of his career at 67.1 (his career high was 69.5).

The “Valuable” Factor

Generally, part of the consideration for who gets the Most Valuable Player award is just how valuable the player in question is – would the team still be anything close to what they are without him? Right now, the answer is admittedly more kind of middling with Rivers. It’s not like he doesn’t have any help. The wide receiver position is slightly thin with a couple of one-dimensional receivers, but he still has Keenan Allen, and Tyrell Williams has been making a resurgence the last few weeks. They also boast a deadly running back duo with Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler.

But would the team be able to win much this season without Rivers? Probably not. While the running game might still be able to get work done, the receiving game would likely collapse to just Allen — especially since a lot of the team’s passing game relies on accurate deep passes. And the lack of Hunter Henry this year would also hurt any backup quarterback coming in. Rivers is still critical to the team’s success.

The Competition

Let’s take a look and see who Rivers is up against. At the moment, the main front-runners look like they would probably be the previously mentioned Mahomes and Brees. On one hand, Mahomes is having historic numbers for his first full season as a starting quarterback. On the other hand, Brees has the highest passer rating in the league (120.6) and the highest completion percentage in the league (76.3, which would also be good for the best of all time). Some have also mentioned Tom Brady, but while he is having historic numbers for his age (17 touchdowns and seven interceptions), they don’t quite measure up to the numbers that Brees, Mahomes, Rivers or even others like Jared Goff or Matt Ryan are having. (If you hadn’t noticed, it’s an insane year for quarterbacks.)

Now in terms of how valuable these other two are… due to Mahomes’ numbers, some may be inclined to go with him, and they could hardly be blamed for doing so. But given that the Kansas City Chiefs were a playoff team the previous two years with Alex Smith (also known as the king of check-down passes), I’m not so sure that the Chiefs couldn’t still do fine without Mahomes. Brees is another matter. His situation is actually similar to Rivers’–one all-star wide receiver, a deadly running back duo and not much else.

Last Word

It’s hard to say at this point whether Rivers will actually win the MVP when it’s all said and done. There’s been so much great quarterback play this year, that even though right now the frontrunners look like Brees, Rivers and Mahomes, that could change down the stretch for all we know. But what is still undeniable is that Rivers is having the best year of his life, and only a couple of other quarterbacks are doing much better right now. Rivers is an MVP candidate, and he should be recognized as such.

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