Brady, Ryan, Carr make cases as early NFL MVP candidates

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A handful of quarterbacks have emerged as early front-runners for the NFL MVP, with New England's Tom Brady, Oakland's Derek Carr and Atlanta's Matt Ryan continuing to stake their claims on Sunday.

Brady may have missed the first four games of the season, but he helped the Patriots avenge their only loss of the season, downing the Buffalo Bills 41-25.

The Bills shut out the Patriots in a 16-0 victory in week four, but Sunday was a different story as Brady threw 22 of 33 for 315 yards and four touchdowns in New England's convincing victory.

The Patriots are 7-1 and Brady has been on fire since his return from a four-game suspension. He has completed over 73 percent of his passes for 1,319 yards with 12 touchdowns and zero interceptions. 

The Raiders defense was expected to lead them to success this year, but that has not happened. Oakland ranks 31st in total defence, but are 6-2 thanks to Carr, who threw for a franchise-record 513 yards in the Raiders' 30-24 overtime win over at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Carr's 41-yard touchdown pass to Seth Roberts with 1:45 remaining in overtime was the game-winner. 

Carr has 2,321 passing yards with 17 touchdowns and just three interceptions this season. He is the third quarterback in NFL history to pass for at least 500 yards and four touchdowns without an interception in a single game, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Y.A. Tittle and Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger.

Ryan outduelled Aaron Rodgers on Sunday, leading a late touchdown drive in the Falcons' 33-32 victory over the Green Bay Packers. Ryan had just seven incompletions while throwing for 288 yards and three touchdowns in the win and leads the NFL with 2,636 yards and 19 touchdowns with four interceptions.

Rodgers has had to carry the Packers offense as injuries have resulted in a dearth of offensive weapons on Green Bay's roster. Rodgers had a game-high 60 rushing yards on Sunday and threw for four touchdowns to raise his season total to 17 on the season with four picks. 

Drew Brees is another QB carrying his team, offensively. His 2,366 passing yards are third behind Ryan and Washington's Kirk Cousins.

Brees threw for 265 yards and a touchdown and ran for a score in the Saints' 25-20 win over the Seattle Seahawks. 

Elsewhere, the Carolina Panthers trumped the Arizona Cardinals 30-20, the Denver Broncos were too good for the San Diego Charges 27-19, the Houston Texans beat the Detroit Lions 20-13, the New York Jets edged the Cleveland Browns 31-28, the Kansas City Chiefs saw off the Indianapolis Colts 30-14, the Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals played out a 27-27 draw in London, while the Dallas Cowboys prevailed 29-23 over the Philadelphia Eagles in overtime.

 

CATCH OF THE YEAR?

The Chargers did not beat the Broncos, but Travis Benjamin had the best catch of the game. Maybe the catch of the year.

Things started out great for the Seahawks, who used a 34-yard fumble return by Earl Thomas to grab an early lead on the Saints.

A one-handed grab by Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins set up a one-yard Lamar Miller run.

 

COOPER BENEFITS FROM CARR

Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper was the biggest beneficiary of Carr's historic performance, catching 12 of the quarterback's throws for 173 yards and a touchdown.

Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert appears to be back at full strength as he reeled in nine catches for 102 yards and his first score of the season.

Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu caught five passes on Ryan's game-winning drive, including an 11-yard touchdown to stun the Packers with 36 seconds remaining.

 

STALEMATE

Sunday's slate began in London with a 27-27 tie between the Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals. It was the first time in the 10 years the NFL has played games in London that a game ended in a tie. After last week's 6-6 tie between the Seahawks and Cardinals, it's the first time there have been two ties in a season since 1997, which was also the last time the NFL had a tie in consecutive weeks. Since the NFL implemented overtime in 1974, 20 of 22 overtime ties included a missed field goal in the extra period.

The Raiders won their overtime game despite an NFL-record 23 penalties for 200 yards. The previous record of 22 penalties had been held by the 1944 Brooklyn Tigers, 1944 Chicago Bears and the 1998 San Francisco 49ers. 

 

NO-FAIR OFFICIALS?

Washington's Josh Norman and Carolina's Cam Newton both voiced their frustrations over officiating on Sunday. 

"Who is the official 88? He sucked," Norman said of field judge Brad Freeman. "I'm just going to be honest with you. I'm going to be straight forward. He was terrible. I feel like he should be reprimanded. I feel like some of the plays going on out there, it was terrible.

"I just feel like they really need to sit down and look at that, because the plays out there that was going on, I never in my life had seven like flash on me ever, and I feel as if I probably had more than that if you really want to be honest with it. Every time he threw the ball, I feel like it was going to be a flag. OK, here you go. Let me not touch the guy. Let the guy push off on me, but let me not touch him. It needs to be watched and reprimanded. They reprimand us, so what's the recommended for them? It's crazy."

Newton was not pleased he is not getting receiving the protection from officials that other NFL quarterbacks receive.

"I don't know what I have to do," Newton said. "I don't think there's a person who can go through what I go through and still keep their head. Hits to the head, that's one thing, but when you're not protected in the pocket, that's another thing. It's not fun. It's taken the fun out of the game, honestly. At times, I don't even feel safe. Enough is enough.

"As players in this league, we do something stupid, we get fined. If you do something derogatory to someone else, you get fined. I just can't keep accepting, 'Oh we missed that one' or 'I apologize for doing that,' or 'I didn't see it.' That's horsecrap."