Injuries to Carson Wentz, Aaron Rodgers, and Antonio Brown have wiped away those who appeared to have a shot at derailing the 40-year-old quarterback from earning his third NFL MVP award. Inconsistencies have also taken the likes of Russell Wilson and Phillip Rivers out of the conversation.
To fill the void in a debate-frenzied world, the next nominee with a chance to stop Brady from strolling to the MVP throne seems clear after Sunday: Todd Gurley.
The Los Angeles Rams running back dominated the Seattle Seahawks, dashing for 153 rushing yards, 28 receiving yards, and four total touchdowns. Oh, and he did all that despite participating in just nine second-half plays in Sunday's 42-7 blowout.
As the best player on the NFL's highest-scoring offense, Gurley's MVP campaign could just be heating up. The third-year running back certainly has his coach's vote.
"I'm obviously going to be biased to Todd, but I think if you just look at it from a production standpoint, he's as productive as any player," Sean McVay said Monday, via the L.A. Daily News.
If Gurley's turnaround from a disastrous 2016 campaign (during which he trashed the Rams offense as ' middle school') doesn't end with an MVP trophy, it could lead to a Comeback Player of the Year award. Gurley's performance should also help McVay run away with Coach of the Year honors.
"He's certainly a special player," McVay said. "With Todd's success, that is a reflection of our offensive unit, but I think it's a great honor for him. I think he certainly has put himself into legitimate (MVP) conversations with that, just based on the production and what he has meant to our team."
The superlatives on Gurley are long after Sunday's performance -- the NFL Research team had two-and-a-half pages of notes on the running back in the post-Week 15 packet.
Gurley ranks first in the NFL in rushing TDs (13) and scrimmage TDs (17), second in scrimmage yards (1,817), third in rushing yards (1,187), and second among running backs in receiving yards (630). Gurley is the only player to score three-plus scrimmage TDs in multiple games (2) this season.
Gurley has just 32 fewer scrimmage yards than Le'Veon Bell on 76 fewer touches. Of the three running backs with 250-plus carries (Bell, LeSean McCoy, Gurley), the Rams' rusher is averaging half a yard better per rush (Gurley: 4.6; McCoy: 4.1; Bell: 4.0).
If player grades happen to be your cup of tea, Pro Football Focus ranks Gurley as their top overall running back this season. If you'd rather dissect influencing victories ratios: The Rams are 8-0 when he touches the ball 20-plus times and 2-4 when he comes short of that number.
Perhaps still a longshot to leapfrog Brady, the fact that Gurley deserves to be in the MVP conversation in 2017 given where he and the Rams were one year ago is mind-bending. Thank you, Sean McVay, for helping unleash a talented back after your predecessors failed miserably. The viewing public owes you a debt of gratitude.