Tom Brady is in the midst of one of the great seasons any quarterback has ever produced -- yet again.
His statistical calling card is a truly unique combination of individual stats, pinball-sized scoreboard totals and team victories that distinguish him from any quarterback in the history of the NFL.
Brady and the New England Patriots already wrapped up the AFC East crown with a quarter of the season to play. He is among the league leaders in every meaningful passing category. And he leads the greatest offensive machine in the history of football.
Yet the future first-ballot Hall of Famer is somehow flying under the radar screen this year. Brady is at best the fifth biggest quarterbacking story in football, behind rookie phenoms Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning's resurrection in Denver, and Matt Ryan's leadership of the 11-1 Falcons.
Perhaps the pigskin public has Brady Burnout. He's so consistently productive and his well-oiled Patriots win with such machine-like ruthlessness that we've simply stopped taking notice.
But Brady is the best choice through Week 13 for league MVP honors, with a chance to cement his status under the bright lights of primetime football against the 11-1 Houston Texans Monday night in Foxboro.
Brady is yet among the league leaders in every major passing category, both in volume stats and in the more important efficiency indicators that ultimately win and lose games.
Brady and the Patriots rank:
• No. 1 in
• No. 2 in
• No. 4 in
• No. 4 in touchdown passes (25)
• No. 5
• No. 6 in passing yards (3,537)
Brady's hallmark has always been pairing great production while limiting mistakes. And he's at an elite level in that skill again in 2012.
He's produced 28 touchdowns (25 passing, 3 rushing) this year with a total of just four turnovers. That 7 to 1 TD-turnover ratio is on pace to be the third best single-season mark in NFL history.
The two seasons better: Brady's 37 total TDs and 5 turnovers in 2010 (7.4 to 1) and Aaron Rodgers' 48 and 6 (8 to 1) in 2011. Both earned MVP honors in those seasons.
That ability to protect the football is typically undervalued by fans and analysts. But
Brady's deadly efficiency and his ability to protect the football is probably the greatest reason behind New England's ability win so consistently year after year.
Consider this: teams better in
It's one thing to rack up stats. But Brady and the Patriots turn all those yards and stats into points at a clip unlike any team in the history of the NFL.
They lead the NFL with 430 points scored here in 2012, an average of 35.8 PPG. That's a full touchdown per game ahead of the No. 2 Texans (29.3 PPG).
Brady right now leads the greatest offensive machine football has ever seen, about to top 500 points scored for the fourth time in six years.
We might be talking six-for-six had Brady not missed the entire 2008 season to injury and struggled to regain his form in 2009.
No other franchise has scored 500 points in four different seasons. In fact, only 10 teams have done it even once.
Peyton Manning led a 500-point offense only once (522 in 2004); Dan Marino only once (513 in 1984); John Elway only once (501 in 1998); Joe Montana never did it. His best point total was 475 in 1984.
Brady and the Patriots, meanwhile, are lapping the field here in 2012. Only three teams are within even 100 points of New England's 430 points scored.
So Brady racks up stats and points. But more importantly, he racks up wins more consistently than any quarterback in modern football history. The pace of victories is absolutely breathtaking.
The only other QB in the discussion among all-time great winners is Otto Graham, the Cleveland Browns Hall of Famer who last played in 1955 and spent only six years in the NFL.
The Patriots are 9-3 in 2012, wrapping up the AFC East with four games to play.
Brady has now led his team to a division title a record 10 times -- and he's done it in just 11 years on the field. The Patriots lost the division to the Jets on a three-way tiebreaker in 2002 and, with Matt Cassel at QB, lost out to the Dolphins on tiebreakers in 2008.
New England is the only team in history to post the best record in their division 12 straight seasons.
Brady has the Patriots in the Super Bowl discussion this year despite being paired with a defense that is merely average on a good day (No. 14 in scoring defense in 2012). It certainly forces plenty of turnovers. But it's still a porous unit compared with the defenses on other elite NFL teams.
In fact, it's been a long time since New England fielded a very good defense, let alone an elite defense. New England last true Super Bowl-caliber defense was back in 2006.
Regardless, the wins keep coming, including here in 2012.
The Patriots prepare to host the Texans Monday night after winning six straight games.
During the streak, Brady passed a stunning milestone that puts his career in context: he's now the first and only quarterback in NFL history to win 100 more games than he's lost.
Brady is 133-38 in the regular season and 16-6 in the postseason, tying Joe Montana for the most playoff wins. With a combined record of 149-44, he boasts 105 more wins than losses.
No quarterback is even close. Here's a look at how Brady's wins and losses compare to those of the other quarterbacks on the all-time win list (records include postseason; ties not included):
Players come and go. Seasons change. But one thing has remained constant for more than a decade: the Patriots win when Brady is under center.
Here in 2012, Brady is putting up premier individual numbers, leading his team on one of the great offensive runs in history, winning games and doing it with an average defense. He has his Patriots poised for yet another Super Bowl run -- in what would be his record sixth Super Bowl appearance.
If that resume doesn't spell M-V-P, we're not sure what does.