Here's how our 32 NFL Nation reporters voted for the midseason MVP award:
Todd Archer, Cowboys reporter: Tom Brady. If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s don’t upset Brady. Whether the Deflategate talk has been a motivator or not, the New England Patriots quarterback is playing some of the best football of his career. There just seems to be an inevitability regarding Patriots games this season. The Cowboys slowed Brady (five sacks) in the first half but New England figured it out in the second half and won 30-6. He just doesn’t make mistakes and he makes critical plays. I don’t know how anybody else can get an MVP vote.
Andrew Astleford, Buccaneers reporter: Tom Brady. What he has done after all the offseason noise is nothing short of impressive. At age 38, Brady is playing with the vigor of someone much younger. It’s hard to see him slowing down anytime soon, so Patriots opponents better beware.
Rich Cimini, Jets reporter: Tom Brady. Is there any doubt? He is having a season for the ages. He had an offseason for the ages, too, and maybe that has provided extra motivation. Who knows? He’s the best player on the best team, delivering elite performances week after week, even though his supporting cast has changed. He’s playing behind a makeshift offensive line, but it plays like the “Hogs” of yesteryear when Brady is behind it. Funny how that happens.
Rob Demovsky, Packers reporter: Tom Brady. Isn’t this just classic Brady? In an offseason filled with controversy and distractions over the Deflategate investigation, Brady goes from possibly being suspended for the first four games of the season to showing everyone why he’s still the NFL’s best player. To be sure, Aaron Rodgers and Andy Dalton remain in the conversation, but right now it’s Brady’s world and everyone else is just living in it.
Jeff Dickerson, Bears reporter: Tom Brady. He is on a mission. Scorned by the Deflategate controversy, Brady has returned with a vengeance since a federal judge vacated his four-game suspension. He is enjoying one of his finest seasons ever in New England. With Brady at the controls, the Patriots look like a strong contender to win their fifth Super Bowl championship.
Michael DiRocco, Jaguars reporter: Tom Brady. He has been phenomenal this season. He has great stats, for sure, but the number that stands out to me is one: He has thrown just two interceptions, and one came off a tipped pass by Julian Edelman. Brady also has done it behind a makeshift offensive line that lost three starters off the Super Bowl team to either injury or retirement and has an undrafted rookie starting at center. That has been a hallmark of Brady’s success throughout his career: It doesn’t matter whom he’s working with, he’s going to make it work and thrive. He’s doing it again.
Jeremy Fowler, Steelers reporter: Tom Brady. He is on pace for nearly 6,000 yards, 44 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Nobody’s touching that unless Brady loses his red zone touch in the season’s second half. Brady is spinning the ball well enough to make a mockery of the Deflategate saga. He’s producing with an unproven offensive line. And to think the Patriots haven’t played their best football yet.
Tania Ganguli, Texans reporter: Tom Brady. There’s an argument to be made for Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who has taken his team on his back and led it to an undefeated start, but right now, it has to be Brady. The Patriots quarterback is on a mission and his passing numbers are unreal.
Ben Goessling, Vikings reporter: Tom Brady. He’s putting up numbers that are almost on par with his 2007 season, and he’s doing it with a rotating cast of characters on his offensive line. The Patriots might be the best team in the league and they’re doing it with one of the league’s worst rushing attacks.
Dan Graziano, Giants reporter: Tom Brady. Think about how different this Patriots season would have been if Brady had been suspended for the first four games. Maybe Jimmy Garoppolo could have kept them afloat, but just knowing they didn’t have to weather that first month without Brady allowed the Patriots to hit the ground running. There’s no more valuable player in the league right now.
Paul Gutierrez, 49ers reporter: Tom Brady. If the Tuck Rule introduced Brady to the national consciousness, Spygate and Deflategate have only embedded him deeper, while serving as inspiration to lift the Patriots quarterback to otherworldly levels. Brady looks better than ever in seemingly redefining the most important position in team sports. Special recognition, though, for Carolina QB Newton.
Coley Harvey, Bengals reporter: Tom Brady. I’m going against Who Dey Nation’s better wishes on this one, but at this stage no player deserves the MVP award more than Brady. Yes, Dalton has been on fire for Bengals. He’s certainly the big difference-maker for all their early-season success. But now that he has turned the ball over four times, you have to scale back on the belief that he could beat out Brady for a midseason MVP award.
Jamison Hensley, Ravens reporter: Tom Brady. This is a no-brainer. The reason the Patriots are undefeated is because Brady is playing as well as ever in a career that already includes two NFL MVP awards. Consider this: Brady has thrown multiple touchdowns in every game this season but has been picked off only twice. This is a case in which he carries New England to wins and never puts them in a position to lose.
Sheil Kapadia, Seahawks reporter: Tom Brady. He quarterbacks the best team in football. One key to Brady’s success? He’s getting rid of the ball, on average, in 2.13 seconds, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. If that number holds steady, it would be the fastest time of any quarterback in the past five years. Brady is still getting it downfield (8.26 YPA), but dealing with offensive line injuries becomes a whole lot easier when the ball’s out before the pass rush has a chance to get home.
John Keim, Redskins reporter: Tom Brady. The Patriots can do things with players that other teams just can’t because of Brady’s skill and knowledge of the system. It’s amazing but he might be playing his best ball in a while. What has long impressed me: Brady’s fire to remain at the top. It’s not easy.
Paul Kuharsky, Titans reporter: Tom Brady. A vote for anyone else is a cry for attention. The Patriots' roster isn't that good, particularly at receiver and on an injured offensive line. Brady's precision and production are as good as ever.
Jeff Legwold, Broncos reporter: Tom Brady. There have been 72 300-yard passing games in the league in the time it took the Patriots to get to 8-0 and Brady has six of those 300-yard games. Brady averaged 41 pass attempts per game over those first eight games with two games of more than 50 attempts. The Patriots' revenge tour has been fueled by Brady’s play and the team will go as far as the four-time Super Bowl winner takes it.
Vaughn McClure, Falcons reporter: Tom Brady. The buzz surrounding the whole Deflategate story sure seemed to go away as Brady kept leading the Patriots to wins in their first eight games. Anyone who throws 22 touchdowns and just two interceptions to start the season probably should be handed the MVP award now, but much can happen from now until the postseason begins. With games against the New York Giants and the Cameron Wake-less Miami Dolphins in the second half of the season, Brady should be able to pad some of his numbers.
Pat McManamon, Browns reporter: Tom Brady. It's actually tempting to think about Todd Gurley because where would the Rams be without him. But then guys such as Cam Newton and Brady come to mind. It's impossible to go against the best player on the best team. Brady has been otherworldly the first half. The way this season has gone following Deflategate, the rest of the league may petition Roger Goodell to never bring Brady's name into another NFL investigation.
David Newton, Panthers reporter: Tom Brady. You can make a case for Arizona's Carson Palmer and perhaps Carolina’s Newton, but nobody is playing better than the New England quarterback. He’d have to have a complete collapse not to win the year-end MVP award as well.
Mike Reiss, Patriots reporter: Tom Brady. In his first eight games, Brady has thrown 22 touchdowns and just two interceptions. And one of the interceptions wasn’t his fault; it bounced off receiver Edelman’s hands and into safety Mike Adams’ grasp for a pick-six. The Patriots have put more on Brady’s shoulders because of a run of injuries along the offensive line and he’s made it work – both with his arm and feet.
Mike Rodak, Bills reporter: Tom Brady. Yes, Brady has a healthy Gronkowski at his disposal again this season, and together both players are among the top 10 in the NFL. Yet, Brady is also playing with a highly inexperienced offensive line and with a thin wide receiver depth chart. Back in September, Bills coach Rex Ryan didn't want to learn Dion Lewis' name -- and that was a mistake -- because Ryan felt like "the quarterback" was the real reason for Lewis' success. Ryan was right about one thing: Brady makes everyone around him better.
Michael Rothstein, Lions reporter: Tom Brady. He has the best passer rating in the NFL (113.5) by 2.5 points over Dalton. Then there’s this: He has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 11-1. Think about that for a second. He has thrown 22 touchdown passes with only two interceptions. Those numbers are insane.
Phil Sheridan, Eagles reporter: Tom Brady. Until Green Bay lost to Denver, I was torn between undefeated quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady for the midseason MVP nod. When you consider the Deflategate distraction that followed him for months and the fact he’s 38 years old, Brady’s performance is even more impressive. He’s better than ever. For now, at least, he’s unbeatable.
Adam Teicher, Chiefs reporter: Andy Dalton. The rise of Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Dalton has taken a talented team and made it into a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Brady gets strong consideration but Dalton is suddenly playing like one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks and that transformation makes the Bengals a most dangerous team, now and in the postseason.
Mike Triplett, Saints reporter: Tom Brady. Do I need to say anything else besides 22 TDs and only two interceptions? How about 8-0? The only thing Brady is doing wrong this season is sapping the drama from this race. Brady’s 16th season is actually shaping up to be the best of his career.
Nick Wagoner, Rams reporter: Tom Brady. The whole football world expected an angry and motivated Brady, and that's exactly what it’s getting. He's among the league leaders in all major passing categories and on pace to set an NFL record for passing yards in a season. More importantly, he's got the Patriots on track for yet another Super Bowl run.
James Walker, Dolphins reporter: Tom Brady. He continues to play at a Hall of Fame level and shows no signs of slowing down. Despite multiple injuries on the offensive line, New England’s offense continues to be elite due to Brady’s arm and masterful play.
Josh Weinfuss, Cardinals reporter: Carson Palmer. Palmer may be a more popular pick for comeback player of the year, but the Cardinals wouldn’t be 6-2 and leading the NFC West without him. Just look at last year when Palmer went down for the second time after 10 games -- Arizona won two games the rest of the season.
Mike Wells, Colts reporter: Tom Brady. All Brady has been doing this season is further stating his case to be one of the all-time best quarterbacks. The Patriots lost key defensive players Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Vince Wilfork in the offseason. That’s OK. New England lost three offensive line starters off its Super Bowl team. Doesn't matter. Just put players on the field and Brady will find a way to get the job done.
Eric Williams, Chargers reporter: Tom Brady. He has used the Deflategate situation as fuel and is responsible for 22 touchdowns and just three turnovers this season. Brady is the best quarterback leading the NFL’s most efficient offense.
Bill Williamson, Raiders reporter: Tom Brady. Sorry, NFL, but Brady is the best player in your league. He very well may be the best player in NFL history. Is he getting better at 38? Yes.