Almost simultaneously on Sunday, while reigning NFL MVP (and 2021 MVP candidate) Aaron Rodgers watched on during the Green Bay Packers' bye week, quarterbacks Tom Brady and Kyler Murray generated a combined eight passing and rushing touchdowns as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals scored a combined 63 points in victorious performances.

The Bucs and Packers are both 9-3 now, one game back of the league-leading Cardinals (10-2). Murray remains the league's highest-rated passer, and Brady now leads the league in touchdown passes by a considerable margin with 34 (nobody else has more than 30). 

It's been an extreme NFL campaign in terms of parity and unpredictability, and that has rubbed off on the MVP race. Rodgers has a 23-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio for a Super Bowl contender, but he's far from comfortable. Murray has better rate-based stats and is quarterbacking the winningest team in football. Brady is the man behind the NFL's highest-scoring offense. And then there's Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, Kansas City Chiefs superstar signal-caller Patrick Mahomes and fringe candidates like Matthew Stafford of the Los Angeles Rams and Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys. 

A hot run in the coming weeks could put any of those guys over the top, and the same might even apply to Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, Baltimore Ravens dual threat Lamar Jackson and Las Vegas Raiders passer Derek Carr. 

 

The case for Brady

While Murray and Rodgers have both missed some time, the 44-year-old delivered fairly consistently and is the guy orchestrating Tampa's league-leading offense. He was "merely" the league's fifth-highest-rated passer entering Week 13, but he and his cohorts score like nobody else. Sunday's monster performance on the road against the division-rival Atlanta Falcons was a big rebound after three consecutive weeks putting up passer ratings below 90. 

 

The case for Murray

While representing the league's top team in the standings, Murray now has 24 total touchdowns to just seven interceptions despite missing three games. He wasn't a huge factor with his arm Sunday but entered the day leading the league in yards-per-attempt average and completion rate by huge margins.