Jonathan Taylor vs. Cooper Kupp: Which Non-QB Has a Better Case for NFL MVP?

Colts RB Jonathan Taylor and Rams WR Cooper Kupp are making compelling NFL MVP cases this season.
Colts RB Jonathan Taylor and Rams WR Cooper Kupp are making compelling NFL MVP cases this season. / © Grace Hollars / USA TODAY NETWORK | © Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The last time a running back took home the NFL MVP was Adrian Peterson for the Minnesota Vikings back in 2019.

The last time a wide receiver won it? Anyone? How about never.

Now heading into Week 16 of the NFL season, two non-quarterbacks are emerging in the thick of the Most Valuable Player discussion.

Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor has seen his odds move up from 250/1 at the beginning of the season all the way to +1000, or 10/1 at WynnBET Sportsbook. 10/1 are the shortest odds Taylor's owned all year long, with only Tom Brady (+145) and Aaron Rodgers (+150) comfortably ahead.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp is on pace to put together one of the all-time great receiving seasons, moving his MVP odds from non-existent, to now 75/1, or +7500 at WynnBET.

With the narrative potentially shifting towards a non-QB to contend for the hardware, let's discuss which of these two candidates would be most deserving?

Cooper Kupp vs. Jonathan Taylor: Who is More Deserving of the NFL MVP?

Let's kick off the discussion with Taylor; as he leads the NFL in rushing by 424 yards over Joe Mixon, as well as leading the league in rushing attempts, touchdowns and runs of 20 and 40-plus yards.

Purely from a "most valuable" standpoint, the Colts have gone 14-1 straight up over the last two seasons when Taylor runs for over 80 yards or more. His success in the run game is almost the entire offensive game plan; evidenced last Saturday in their 27-17 victory over the Patriots.

Taylor rushed 29 times for 170 yards and a touchdown. Despite Carson Wentz going 5/12 for 57 yards, Indianapolis still won the time of possession battle versus New England in large part to Taylor's ability to control the clock and keep the chains moving.

But is there a precedent for Taylor to win, even with these eye-popping numbers? Last year, the Titans rode Derrick Henry's 2000-plus rushing yard season to the postseason and he received a total of zero votes. If Taylor continues on his pace, he would finish with 1,843.8 rushing yards in 17 games. Henry ended up with 2,027 rushing yards in just 16.

As for Kupp, if the season were to end today with still three games to go, he would own the No. 19 most receiving yards in a single season in NFL history with 1,625. Through 14 games, Kupp has averaged 116.1 receiving yards, putting him on pace to pass Calvin Johnson's record-setting 1,964 yard season with the Detroit Lions in 2012. Again, the extra game added to the regular season both hurts and helps Kupp in this regard.

For those wondering how many MVP votes Johnson received for setting the all-time receiving yards record in a season, the answer would be, wait for it, zero.

Ultimately, either Rodgers or Brady will end up winning in the end, simply because they've been the most consistent players on the best teams in what's been a roller coaster season at the position. However, if I had to pick between one of the two, I'll side with Taylor as the better bet because of his true value to his team.

Last year, Henry, despite the superior season never got shorter than 50/1 odds to win. With Taylor tied with Patrick Mahomes for third place in the odds, there's a much higher chance he makes a more convincing argument, especially if both quarterbacks struggle in the final three games.