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NFL MVP 2020: Mahomes and Rogers still top the rankings, Drew Brees is edging his way up the leaderboard

Oct 25, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) throws a pass for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

We're now set to enter Week 8 of the 2020 NFL season, which means that half of the 2020 regular season is almost in the books. The midway point doesn't bring us any clarity on the 2020 MVP race, though, as nobody among the “big three” — Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers — has been able to separate from the pack, and we might even see two quarterbacks re-enter the conversation after being written-off early in the year.

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Before we get to the rankings, here is a short overview of the methodology:

  • We trained a model to predict the winner of the MVP award at the conclusion of the regular season. The model is based on three regular-season parameters:
    1. The number of wins (and how that ranks across the league)
    2. Rank in the division
    3. Expected points added per play (and how that ranks across the league)
  • Since the model works with regular-season stats in hindsight, we need to simulate the remaining games of the season in order to feed the model. We invoke our weekly win-total simulations as well as a Bayesian Updating method to simulate each quarterback's EPA per play in 2020.
  • During the season, we update our beliefs on all quarterbacks with Bayesian Updating, incorporating up-to-date EPA per play and making adjustments based on both the PFF passing grade and the quality of defense faced.
  • Using these updated beliefs, we can simulate the EPA per play for the remainder of the season for each quarterback.
  • The number of wins and whether a QB wins his division is obtained from our weekly win-total simulations.

Defense adjustments

As we do every week, we will go through the strength of defenses first, explaining how we adjust for each defense before identifying the quarterbacks who played the most difficult schedule (and received the highest positive adjustments).

The recorded strength of each defense leads to the following adjustments for quarterbacks (a positive adjustment means a difficult schedule so far; a negative adjustment means an easy schedule).

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