The finalists for The Associated Press 2022 NFL Most Valuable Player award were announced on Wednesday, and three of those players will be playing in a conference championship game this Sunday.
Two of the finalists, Bills quarterback Josh Allen and the Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson, have already made their exits from the postseason, but Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts will all play this weekend with a chance to to earn their team a spot in Super Bowl LVII.
The AFC Championship Game will feature MVP candidates on both sides with Mahomes and Burrow facing off Sunday evening
Mahomes is in the running to win the second MVP award of his career, having previously been selected for the honor for the 2018 season. This year, Mahomes finished with 5,250 passing yards and 358 rushing yards, both career highs, led the league in passing yards and passing touchdowns (41) and was second in quarterback rating (105.2).
Burrow's Bengals had a rough start to the season, but now enter the AFC Championship Game having not lost a game since Halloween and with their best regular-season record with Burrow under center. Burrow finished the year in the top five in passing yards (4,475), touchdowns (35) and completion percentage (68.3), with the latter two ranking second in the NFL.
"He's deserving of anything that comes his way. He's one of the greatest players in the league, and those are usually the types of guys that should be in that conversation," Cincinnati head coach Zac Taylor said of his QB making the shortlist for the award. "I've said it a million times, we're fortunate to have him."
On the NFC side of the playoff bracket, Hurts said Wednesday that he was at a "loss for words" when he heard he had been named a finalist.
"It's a cool honor," he said.
Hurts was 14-1 as the starter for the Eagles this season, and collected a career-high 3701 passing yards, 22 passing TDs and 13 rushing TDs, despite having missed two games late in the season with a sprained shoulder.
"His body of work speaks for itself. He's had a phenomenal year," Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said Wednesday.
The first order of business for these three players will be Championship Sunday, with a chance to appear in the Super Bowl on the line. Only after that will come the NFL Honors ceremony on Feb. 9, where one of the five finalists will take home one of the highest accolades in the sport.