Russell Wilson continues his bid for the Most Valuable Player award when the Seattle Seahawks host the Baltimore Ravens exclusively live on Sky Sports Action and Main Event on Sunday.
There can be absolutely no doubting Wilson is playing at an MVP level.
Patrick Mahomes appeared to be – and could still be – Wilson’s greatest competition. But, his injury to his right knee on Thursday Night Football – a devastating blow for the league – has surely now entrenched Wilson at the top of the pile.
Mahomes injures knee in Chiefs win
Reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes injured his right knee in the Kansas City Chiefs’ 30-6 victory over the Denver Broncos.
There are valid arguments to be put forward for Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, but Wilson was arguably streaking ahead even before the injury to Mahomes.
Before the Kansas City Chiefs’ meeting with the Denver Broncos on Thursday night, Wilson’s passer rating of 124.7 was already 12.8 points higher than the next best player in Mahomes.
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Through only six games so far this season, Wilson has accounted 17 touchdowns – 14 passing and three rushing – and is yet to throw a single interception.
His average 284 pass yards per game, 72.5 completion percentage, nine-yards-per-attempt average and passer rating are all career-high marks.
And those numbers aren’t a result of any particular scheme that suits Wilson, any game-managing, or any greatness from his skill-position players on offense.
Quite the contrary. Wilson carries this Seattle Seahawks team. And he does so while attempting and, more often than not, completing the most difficult throws.
According to Next Gen Stats, Wilson throws outside the numbers on 59.3 per cent of his attempts – the highest rate in the NFL – and he completes 70.5 per cent of such throws, a mark most quarterbacks would be content with on easier check downs. He has nine of his touchdowns when throwing outside the numbers and a 121.4 passer rating.
Not only does Wilson excel in with an expansive passing game, but he is still a threat with his legs too.
He might not have the 460 rushing yards his opponent this weekend – Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson – has through the first six weeks of the season, but Wilson’s 151 is still good enough for fifth in the NFL.
Also, long gone are the days that Wilson needed to do everything for this Seattle team. Its no coincidence that the only time in his eight years in the NFL Wilson has failed to make the playoffs was in 2017, when he accounted for every single one of the Seahawks’ offensive touchdowns.
Teams knew if they could bottle up Wilson – a task still easier said than done – that Seattle didn’t have anyone else. That’s not the case for 2019, with Chris Carson and his 504 rushing yards through six games helping take some of the heat off Wilson.
But, despite Wilson’s personal success, and the team’s fine start to the season, the Seahawks are still not getting the attention they deserve, going somewhat unnoticed in the crowded NFC West.
The Los Angeles Rams may well be in the midst of a three-game losing streak, but they’re still fresh off a Super Bowl run last season, while the San Francisco 49ers have shot out to a 5-0 start – one of only two teams in the league still unbeaten, along with the New England Patriots.
Perhaps not helping that narrative is the fact that the 49ers and Seahawks have both beaten four of the same opponents through six weeks of their schedule – Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Rams and Cleveland Browns – with Seattle only squeezing out a +8 point differential, while San Francisco have dismantled the same opposition to the tune of +69 points.
But, while it’s the 49ers defense that has shone most over that stretch, it’s thanks to Wilson that the Seahawks edged out the four close encounters and currently even sit 5-1.
The 30-29 win over the Rams in Week Five, in particular, was a statement game, with Wilson throwing for 268 yards and four touchdowns against last year’s NFC champs. An MVP-worthy performance.
“Each of these games – because there have only been five [now six] so far – has so much meaning,” Around the NFL’s Chris Wesseling told Sky Sports. “And last week’s game for Russell Wilson was that game you look back at the end of the season and say yes, that’s when he made his candidacy.
“That week, he took it over, that was the stuff that MVPs are made of and he is my pick.”
The Seahawks are sitting at 5-1 for only the second time in Wilson’s career. The last time they did so was in 2013, on their way to winning Super Bowl XLVIII.
They returned to the big game following year, suffering a heart-breaking loss to the Patriots on the final play of the game – yes, that Malcolm Butler interception at the goal line.
Since, that Legion of Boom squad has gradually been chipped away at over the years, broken up as players have either sought out opportunities (and money) elsewhere or have been forced to.
Wilson, meanwhile, has been the constant, rallying his team to the playoffs in every season other than the 2017 misnomer, and was ultimately – and rightly – rewarded for his efforts with a new $35 million a year contract extension this offseason, making him the highest-paid player in the NFL.