A quarterback has been the recipient of the NFL MVP award for seven straight years and 12 out of the last 13. And barring a herculean surge from Derrick Henry in the season's final quarter pole, it'll likely go to a signal-caller again. Russell Wilson has led the pack for most of the season, but he's running third at present, behind Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers. Once a part of a crowded group at the top, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Ryan Tannehill, and Kyler Murray have faded in recent weeks.
All those mentioned above have been able to stay healthy and off the Covid-19 list this season. The same could not be said of the latter for Cam Newton, Drew Lock, and Lamar Jackson.
Lock and Lamar will or have been activated in advance of their respective Week 13 matchups, but there are still QB's to monitor in terms of (varying degrees of) injuries this week, so let's take a look.
Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
The top overall pick in this past spring's draft suffered a devastating knee injury against the Washington Football Team on November 22. Burrow tore his ACL and MCL and suffered additional structural damage to his knee.
The team announced that their franchise star underwent successful surgery this week and is expected to fully recover in time for next season. Burrow was the frontrunner for Offensive Rookie of the Year before going down, passing for 2,688 yards, 13 touchdowns, and five interceptions.
Daniel Jones, New York Giants
Jones suffered a hamstring injury in the team's win over the Burrow-less Bengals in Week 12, getting replaced by Colt McCoy in the third quarter. The Giants QB has yet to participate in a full practice this week, instead working with trainers on the side while McCoy handles first-team reps.
The former 6th overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft is hopeful that he'll return to the field Sunday against the Seahawks, but the closer we get to the weekend, the more and more it looks like McCoy will get the start. If the regular season ended today, the 4-7 Giants would win the NFC East and be in the playoffs as the 4-seed.
Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins
The rookie, who called Burrow to wish him well in his long recovery, is dealing with an injury of his own. Tua missed last Sunday's win over the Jets is still nursing a jammed thumb on his throwing hand, and his status remains in question for Week 13.
The Dolphins, who are in the thick of the playoff race (currently sitting in the 6th seed but just one game back of the Bills for the AFC East lead), turned the keys over to Tagovailoa in Week 8, and the 5th overall pick proceeded to go 3-1 before being benched in their loss to Denver. Ryan Fitzpatrick would again assume starter duties if Tua's thumb doesn't heal in time to face Cincinnati.
Sam Darnold, New York Jets
Darnold is presumably recovered from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss four games this season, but we bring him up in this space because of comments his coach made this week. For the first time as the Jets head coach, Adam Gase admitted that he hasn't helped Darnold develop into an NFL quarterback. The writing's on the wall for Gase, who will likely be out of a job after the season, but this is the first time (publicly) that he hasn't put a positive spin on the poor play under center. Darnold, on the other hand, didn't put it all on his coach.
"First of all, I take full responsibility for the way I've played," he said. "I haven't played well enough. Like I continue to say every single week, we have great people in this organization. With that being said, everyone is going to take blame for certain part of us losing. But for me, personally, I've got to play better and put the team in the right position to have a chance to win games and make it close at the end."