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Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady in two-man race for NFL MVP in ESPN poll

Aaron Rodgers Tom Brady

With the NFL regular season set to kick off on Thursday at Gillette Stadium, the anticipation for the 2017 campaign is at a fevered pitch. And what better way to get those football juices flowing than with early debates on the players and teams that’ll likely finish the season as the best in their class.

The good folks over at ESPN (via Dan Graziano) recently conducted an in-house poll on the top-five candidates for NFL MVP by season’s end. It comes to no surprise that Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and New England’s Tom Brady grabbed the most number of votes.

However, the final tally for the two decorated quarterbacks coming from ESPN’s 12-man panel was closer than expected, with both Rodgers and Brady receiving the same number of first-place votes with six:

 

NFL MVP poll 2017

ESPN.com

The two Hall of Fame-bound quarterbacks took all the first-place votes by themselves, and this was almost a given. The Packers and the Patriots are two of the most successful franchises over the past decade or so, and it’s always been Rogers and Brady at the helm commanding their respective teams to countless victories and playoff appearances.

Elsewhere on ESPN’s poll, Oakland’s Derek Carr and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan garnered enough votes to warrant early MVP talk as two more play-callers making the list.

Last season, Carr led the Raiders to their first playoff appearance in 15 years before suffering a broken leg in Week 16 and eventually cut his team’s postseason run short. Ryan, meanwhile, is the reigning league MVP after finishing the previous season with NFL-bests in yards per attempt (9.3) and QB rating (117.1) to go with his 4,944 passing yards and 38 touchdowns.

The only non-QB who made the list is Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell, who had a resurgent campaign in 2016 after racking up 1,884 all-purpose yards and nine touchdowns in just 12 games. Only four running backs have won the MVP award since 2000, and Bell certainly belongs in the conversation of becoming the next player to do so.