Dueling perspectives: Cam Newton vs. Tom Brady for MVP

Should Cam Newton be MVP favorite over Brady? (2:10)

Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith shoot down the notion that Cam Newton should be the MVP front-runner over Tom Brady. (2:10)

With six weeks remaining in the regular season, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton have emerged as two of the leading candidates as the league's most valuable player. We'll take a weekly look at the case of Brady vs. Newton, with NFL Nation reporters David Newton (Panthers) and Mike Reiss (Patriots) providing their takes:

Why Newton is the choice: Because he has been Tom Brady-like. Not in the sense that Newton has become a prolific passer, although a career-best five touchdown passes Sunday and a completion percentage of more than 70 the past two games is prolific. Rather, Newton is Brady-like in the sense that he’s highly productive with an average group of receivers. In the sense that he’s spreading the ball around and making everybody around him better. In the sense that he has taken a Carolina team many thought would crumble after the loss of star wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin in training camp to a 10-0 record, as one might expect Brady to do. The Panthers are third in the league in scoring with this group of no-names outside of tight end Greg Olsen. Only New England (32.3 points per game) and Arizona (33.6) have been more productive. But what makes Newton the MVP at this point is how much he means to this offense. He has been responsible, via passing and rushing, for 26 of the team’s 32 offensive touchdowns. Brady has been responsible for a lower percentage (27 of 36) at New England. Newton’s ability to keep teams off balance with his running makes this offense go. His 382 yards rushing is only 35 fewer than that of Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch. He can do it all, and he’s making smarter decisions than ever. Brady-like, I’d say. -- David Newton

Why Brady is the choice: That's expertly presented, David, basing the candidacy on the fact Newton has been Brady-like. Hard for me to argue against Brady being the standard to measure up against. We're going to follow this MVP race on a weekly basis, and with that being the case, this is sort of like a stock-market situation in which the strength of candidacy can fluctuate on a week-to-week basis. Brady's candidacy is obviously very strong, but the past two weeks haven't been his best start-to-finish work, as there have been some uncharacteristic throws that were either intercepted or nearly intercepted. In pulling back from the past two weeks and looking at the big picture, I still think Brady is the choice, as what stands out to me is how he has been the main reason the Patriots have been able to overcome an unstable situation along the offensive line. Consider that the Patriots have used an NFL-high 25 different line combinations this season, which was partly rotation but mostly a result of managing injuries. A recent run of injuries at receiver has added to that challenge. No quarterback is getting the football out of his hands faster than Brady and his mastery at getting the Patriots into the right play, or out of the wrong play, is part of the foundation on which the offense is built. I'm not a big statistics guy, but they are also part of the discussion, and they are terrific: 271-of-409 for a league-high 3,320 yards, with 25 touchdowns and four interceptions. -- Mike Reiss