There's no great MVP candidate yet this season, so what about Texans QB C.J. Stroud?

There has been just one 470-yard passing game in the NFL this season. It came from C.J. Stroud.

Only one quarterback has five touchdown passes in a game this season. That was Stroud.

There are only two quarterbacks in the NFL that have 13 more touchdown passes than interceptions this season. One is Stroud. The other, Kirk Cousins, is done for the season due to injury.

There's only one quarterback with more than 110 attempts and fewer than three interceptions this season. That's Stroud, who has just one pick.

Only two quarterbacks among the top 10 in passing yards have more than 8 yards per attempt. Tua Tagovailoa is at 8.5, and Stroud has 8.1.

Only one rookie quarterback has more than 176 passes to start his career without an interception. One rookie quarterback in NFL history has more than 433 passing yards in a game.

Stroud. Of course.

There are no obvious MVP candidates nine weeks into this season. At what point do we wonder if Stroud, who is on a 17-game pace for 3,973 yards, 30 touchdowns and two interceptions on a Houston Texans team that was expected to be among the worst in football, should be in that conversation? His unbelievable game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, complete with a last-minute drive for a game-winning touchdown, is the best performance a quarterback has had this season.

Rookie or not, he's building a case.

C.J. Stroud is a long shot for MVP

The odds don't agree with the idea that Stroud can win an MVP award. Last week at BetMGM he was 200-to-1 to win the award, and this week he's 125-to-1. That's a significant drop in odds but he's still a significant long shot. Only 0.3% of bets on NFL MVP at BetMGM are on Stroud.

That number might increase.

History is certainly against Stroud. The only rookie to win NFL MVP was Jim Brown in 1957. Brown might be the greatest football player of all time, and it was a much different era.

There's also the case of the Texans being a playoff team. Houston is 4-4 and in the mix, but history says the Texans must make the playoffs if Stroud has even a remote chance at MVP. There hasn't been an MVP from a non-playoff team since O.J. Simpson in 1973 and it took an iconic 2,003-yard campaign that is still remembered with reverence 50 years later.

It's hard to believe that Stroud could be the one to break through some of those barriers and win NFL MVP as a rookie. On the other hand, why not?

C.J. Stroud had 470 yards and five touchdowns in the Houston Texans' Week 9 win over Tampa Bay. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
C.J. Stroud had 470 yards and five touchdowns in the Houston Texans' Week 9 win over Tampa Bay. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

No great MVP candidate has emerged

This has been a strange NFL season. The best teams are up and down. The quarterbacks expected to win MVP, like Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes, are all playing worse than they did last season. Mahomes is the betting favorite at MVP and that seems based way more on reputation and projection for what's to come than what Mahomes' production this season. Mahomes has been good but this has not been a vintage season for him.

Players like A.J. Brown, Tyreek Hill or Christian McCaffrey should get consideration, but we all know that's not realistic. It's a quarterback award.

Who's the one quarterback who has blown past expectations to have a great first half of the season? The answer to that is Stroud. He has arguably been the most enjoyable story this NFL season. Only an injury or a massive second-half slump will keep him from NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Maybe he can win more than that.

There's plenty of season to go, which means there's a couple of months for a more traditional candidate to take over the MVP race. Then again, maybe that's just more time for voters to warm up to the idea of Stroud being the most improbable MVP we've had in decades. If Stroud keeps playing like he has, the conversation is going to start.