(Update – 12/28/16): Le’Veon Bell will not play Sunday in the Pittsburgh Steelers final game of the 2016 season vs. the Cleveland Browns. Neither will Ben Roethlisberger or Antonio Brown.)
I’ve been saying for weeks now that Le’Veon Bell is the best offensive player in the NFL. So it shouldn’t be a surprise to my readers that I think #26 should be the 2016 NFL MVP. On a team with arguably the best wide receiver in the League in Antonio Brown, who leads the NFL in receptions, a perennial pro-bowl quarterback with two Super Bowl victories in Ben Roethlisberger, Bell is the most lethal of the “Killer B’s”. He’s even already been named team MVP for 2016.
My case starts here:
The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the midst of a 6-game winning streak that helped them clinch the AFC North title and the 3rd seed in the AFC Playoffs. This after being 4-5 after the first 10 weeks of the season. In this run, Bell is averaging 139.2 rushing yards (5.2 yards per carry) and 42.7 receiving yards game (8.5 yards per catch), for an average of 181.9 yards from scrimmage. His 12-game average of 157 yards from scrimmage per game is the most in the NFL since Priest Holmes in 2002. He’s converted 62 first downs running and receiving in the streak, His total for the season is 94). Most importantly, he’s scored 7 touchdowns (6 rushing, 1 receiving).
Don’t forget about the 2016 NFL league high and Steelers franchise single-game rushing record of 236 yards he set against the Buffalo Bills in week fourteen. Also, he has more receptions than a handful of NFL teams’ number one receiver.
In the Steelers only loss in the second half of the season to the Dallas Cowboys, Bell rushed for 57 yards and a touchdown, caught 9 passes for 77 receiving yards and a touchdown, as well as converted 10 first downs.
Bell doesn’t just make the offense better, but the defense as well. The formula for the Steelers to win is simple, when he touches the ball 25+ times via the run and the pass, it helps win the time of possession battle, keeping that much maligned defense of theirs off the field. Since week 11 they’ve been a top 5 defense, mostly because they’re on the field less and not as vulnerable to be exploited.
In the win streak, Bell averages 32 touches a game. In the 4 losses he played in, he touched the ball an average 23 times. Much like Pittsburgh’s magic number on defense is 20—they’re undefeated when allowing 20 points or less, 1-5 when allowing 21+ points—25 touches for #26 is the magic number for their offense.
Even after missing 3-games due to suspension, he’s second in the NFL in total rushing yards, and third in total yards from scrimmage. In his first game of 2016, Bell rushed for 144 yards on 18 carries and had 5 catches for 34 yards as the Steelers blew out the Kansas City Chiefs 43-14. Proving just how much extra “juice” he brings to an already lethal unit.
Since I mentioned his suspension, most would think that would disqualify him from winning this award. But, Tom Brady is gaining momentum for votes. He was suspended four games to start this season. Therefore it shouldn’t be a knock on Le’Veon either.
My final point is this, most valuable player should go to the player who if they weren’t on the field for any reason, the team wouldn’t be as successful as they are with him. It shouldn’t just be given to the best player on the team with the best record, as is the case most of the time. Or to the glory position of quarterback which has happened eight of the last ten seasons. LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006, and Adrian Peterson in 2012 were the only non-QBs to breakthrough.
Bell’s performance and incredible versatility is why Steelers Nation gets so upset and disappointed in him that he’s been suspended for off-the-field issues twice in his career. Who knows what this guy could do had he been available for a full 16-game schedule? Who knows where the Steelers would be if he hadn’t stepped up the second half of the season the way he has. That’s why he’s the most valuable.
He probably won’t win the award, he maybe won’t even finish in the top three. But, as I’ve showed you, he should. Who’s been hotter when it mattered the most?