It feels like so long ago we were arguing about Derek Carr’s hand size and the strength of his opponents in college. Fast forward two-and-a-half years and now he has the Oakland Raiders sitting in first place in the most competitive division in football and squarely in the MVP conversation. A third-year quarterback, Carr is on pace for a second-straight Pro Bowl season where he’s fifth in the league in passing (2,321 yards) with 17 touchdowns to just three interceptions. He has an interception rate of just .9%, which is among the best in the league, and boasts a 5–0 away record. No doubt he’s doing it with some very good wideouts. Amari Cooper is a stud and Michael Crabtree is experiencing a renaissance in his eighth year. But he’s also leading this top-five offense without a consistent running game (Oakland’s leading rusher gets 46.5 yards per game). If Carr keeps up this pace in the second half of the season and Oakland wins the AFC West, the youngster could be the winner. – Jonathan Jones

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