Not only will the Falcons be making their first postseason appearance since 2012, QB Matt Ryan is statistically playing the best football of his career. And that has put him in the MVP conversation.
But is he viewed as the leader in that conversation? The numbers certainly suggest he should be, but he's yet to jump ahead as the frontrunner. Instead, players like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Ezekiel Elliott continue to perform well and get significant attention.
Through 16 weeks, Ryan has the No. 1 passer rating in the NFL at 115.5, the next closest is Tom Brady with 110.7.
With the exception of Nick Foles in 2013, all season-long ratings over 115 have been good enough to earn an NFL MVP honor for that season:
- Aaron Rodgers (2011 - MVP) – 122.5
- Peyton Manning (2004 - MVP) –121.1
- Nick Foles (2013) – 119.2
- Tom Brady (2007 - MVP) – 117.2
- Matt Ryan (2016) – 115.5
- Peyton Manning (2013 - MVP) – 115.1
And he's been the most consistent playing at a high level this season. His 11 games with a passer rating over a 100 are the most in the league:
- Matt Ryan - 11
- Dak Prescott - 10
- Drew Brees - 9
- Aaron Rodgers - 8
- Kirk Cousins - 8
- Tom Brady – 7
In addition to having the highest passer rating in the league, the Pro Bowler is the only player to rank in the top three in the following statistical categories below:
Yards per attempt:
- Matt Ryan – 9.3
- Tom Brady – 8.2
- Kirk Cousins – 8.1
- Dak Prescott – 7.9
- Drew Brees – 4,858
- Kirk Cousins – 4,630
- Matt Ryan – 4,613
- Aaron Rodgers – 36
- Drew Brees – 35
- Matt Ryan – 34
Of Ryan's 34 touchdown passes, 13 of them have been to different receivers, setting a new NFL record: Taylor Gabriel (6), Julio Jones (5), WR Mohamed Sanu (3), TE Jacob Tamme (3), TE Austin Hooper (3), TE Joshua Perkins (1), TE DJ Tialavea, WR Justin Hardy (3), RB Devonta Freeman (2), RB Tevin Coleman (2), WR Aldrick Robinson (2), TE Levine Toilolo (2) and Patrick DiMarco (1).
Not only is Ryan performing at an elite level individually, he's also at the helms of the league's top scoring offense. The Falcons have now scored 502 points on the season, 65 more than the second ranked New Orleans Saints (437). Atlanta 33.5 points per game is the highest in franchise history.
Although many things will be taken into consideration, if you're looking at sheer numbers and productivity level, it'd be hard to argue against Ryan.