Can Carson Wentz and Cam Newton maintain their MVP pace?

Updated: October 12, 2017

11:20 AM ET

  • CloseESPN Staff Writer
    • Covered Panthers, NFL for 11 years
    • More than 25 years experience covering NFL, college football and NASCAR
    • Joined ESPN in 2006
  • CloseESPN Staff Writer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and the Philadelphia Eagles’ Carson Wentz weren’t exactly hot topics in the MVP conversation before the season.

Wentz wasn’t on the radar at all, coming off a rookie season in which he threw 14 interceptions to 16 touchdown passes for a 7-9 team.

Newton, coming off shoulder surgery in March, disappeared from the radar three weeks ago after throwing three interceptions at home in a 34-13 loss to the then-winless New Orleans Saints.

Keep in mind it’s early, but Newton and Wentz are legitimate contenders for the MVP award that Newton won in 2015 in part because of their statistics and in part because their teams are off to 4-1 starts heading into Thursday night’s matchup at Bank of America Stadium here.

You can’t call them MVP favorites. Alex Smith has 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions for Kansas City, the NFL’s only undefeated team. Chiefs rookie running back Kareem Hunt is making a strong case for the award, as well, with an NFL-best 609 yards rushing and four touchdowns.

Don’t forget Aaron Rodgers. He has the Green Bay Packers atop the NFC North at 4-1 with 13 touchdown passes and three interceptions.

And as Tom Brady proved in the Super Bowl in February, you can never count him out. Although New England is 3-2, Brady has thrown 11 touchdowns to one interception and leads the league with 1,702 passing yards.

But Newton and Wentz are right there on the periphery, and both will have an opportunity to impress voters in front of a national TV audience on Thursday.

NFL Nation Panthers reporter David Newton and Eagles reporter Tim McManus are here to break down why each is deserving at the moment and whether their play is sustainable:

Cam Newton

The good: Newton had his MVP form of 2015 over the past two weeks in wins against New England and Detroit. He threw six touchdown passes and only one interception, completing 77.4 percent of his passes. The latter jumps out because Newton has a career completion percentage of 58.9. His 68.3 completion percentage on the season is up there with Drew Brees (69.1) and Tom Brady (68.2). Newton also surpassed 300 yards passing in each of the past two games, the first time that has happened since the first two games of his rookie season in 2011. And oh, by the way, he’s showing his legs still are a weapon, with 15 rushes for 44 yards and a touchdown in the past two contests, after running only 14 times in the first three games. He’s still, as Patriots coach Bill Belichick said, “Public Enemy No. 1” as a running quarterback.