Does Joe Burrow Deserve MVP Consideration Along with Comeback Player of the Year?

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow recovered from a torn ACL and MCL in 2020, to leading the Bengals to an AFC North division title in 2021.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow recovered from a torn ACL and MCL in 2020, to leading the Bengals to an AFC North division title in 2021. / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

Back in Week 11 of the 2020 season, Cincinnati Bengals rookie quarterback Joe Burrow suffered one of the worst knee injuries of the year; tearing his left ACL, MCL and a partial tear to his PCL and meniscus in a loss to the Washington Football Team. That Bengals team finished the season 4-11-1; dead last in the rough-and-tumble AFC North behind three teams that finished 11-5 or better.

Now, after Week 17 of the 2021 season, Cincinnati stands alone as the champions of that same division; with Burrow starting all 16 games.

Burrow, along with Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, are the two favorites at WynnBET for NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Prescott remains the favorite at -140 odds (bet $140 to win $100), while Burrow is second at +105 (bet $100 to win $105). But over the past few weeks, Burrow has climbed considerably in WynnBET's MVP odds as well, moving up from +4000, or 40/1, to the No. 4 option on the board at +1500. Only Aaron Rodgers (-450), Tom Brady (+600), and Jonathan Taylor (+1100) remain ahead of Burrow.

Burrow's turnaround in Cincinnati, both personally and for the team, have been awfully impressive, but does it deserve actual consideration for the league's most valuable player?

The Case for Burrow as an MVP Candidate

Rodgers and Brady remain the two most worthy candidates to date. Rodgers has the league's best passer rating, a 35:4 TD to INT ratio, and led the Packers to the best record in the NFL; locking up the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Brady, at age 44, leads the NFL in passing yards, touchdowns and completions of 20+ yards.

Does Burrow have any shot with one more week to go? Let's dig into some of the numbers and see if his argument is legitimate.

Joe Burrow leads the NFL in Most Touchdown Passes on Deep Throws

Via Pro Football Focus, no quarterback this season has been better at scoring on deep passes than Burrow this season; leading the league in deep throw touchdowns (passes of 20 yards or longer). While Brady has completed 69 total passes ahead of Burrow's 60, the Bengals second-year quarterback has made more of them count in less attempts.

Burrow has had Historic Games vs. Quality Competition

Back in Week 16, the Bengals were supposed to get their dream season squashed by the division favorite Baltimore Ravens. Instead, Cincinnati dropped 41 on Wink Martindale's defense with Burrow throwing for 525 passing yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions in a 41-21 home statement win.

Then vs. Kansas City and Patrick Mahomes, Burrow and company ended the Chiefs' seven-game win streak as he went 30-39 for 446 passing yards and four more touchdowns with no picks.

Burrow's two best games of the year came against above .500 competition in must-win games. If that's not worthy of "Most Valuable Player" conversation, I'm not sure what else merits it.

Burrow Has Been More Accurate Than Both Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady

While Burrow has more interceptions (14) than Rodgers (4) and Brady (12), more of the advanced metrics indicate he's actually been the more accurate quarterback this season

Via NFL Film Study on Twitter and Pro Football Reference, Burrow has had far less "bad throws" (throws considered not catchable with normal effort) compared to Rodgers and Brady, as well as more on target throws (passes that would have connected with the intended receiver).

Ultimately, Burrow won't win the MVP, but the argument that he isn't deserving of consideration also falls short.

If anything, his season and improved odds on the board should warrant him this year's Comeback Player of the Year award over Prescott.