NEW ORLEANS Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was named NFL MVP in 2015, leading his team to defeat against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl L.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was named NFL top dog in 2016, leading his team to a historic loss against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI.
Do you see where I'm going with this?
Assuming Newton and Ryan have had their days in the sun, at least for the immediate future, who will be the next NFC South quarterback to win the league's most prestigious individual regular-season award? Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints or Jameis Winston of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?
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My guess is Winston, only because he's 23 years old, a mere pup compared to Brees who's pushing 39. Not to say Brees' days are numbered but certainly he's squarely in the twilight of his career while Winston has a football lifetime ahead of him.
For starters, it's hard to believe Brees has never won the award after posting several bodacious seasons in the Big Easy. He was named MVP of Super Bowl XLIV (2009 season), and rightfully so. But the league enchilada has eluded him during a 16-year Hall of Fame-caliber career.
He has been named NFL Offensive Player of the Year twice, led the NFL in passing yards seven times, in touchdown passes four times and eclipsed 5,000 passing yards in a league-record five times.
But never NFL MVP.
Oddly enough, the season the Saints bested the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV, Brees put up good numbers (4,388 passing yards, 34 TDs, 11 INTs, 70.6 completion percentage, 109.8 passer rating) but got pasted in the media balloting by Colts quarterback Peyton Manning (4,500 passing yards, 33 TDs, 16 INTs, 68.8 completion percentage, 99.9 passer rating).
The Colts finished 14-2 that season, the Saints 13-3.
Of the 50 possible media votes, Manning garnered 39.5, Brees 7.5.
Brees also finished league MVP runnerup in 2006 (San Diego Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson) and 2011 (Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers). In both cases, Brees lost by landslides.
It should be noted the NFL MVP award typically goes to the most outstanding player on the league's best team or one of the league's best teams. That is one reason why the award has eluded Brees.
And that is a major reason why I suspect Newton and Ryan have a better chance of being voted NFL MVP again before Brees or Winston.
Brian Allee-Walsh is a long-time Saints reporter based in New Orleans. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.