Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry won his fourth NBA championship last week and was unanimously named the 2022 Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player — an award that had eluded him during his decade-plus in the league until Thursday night, when the Warriors defeated the Boston Celtics in Game 6 to win the title.
Adding a Finals MVP award to a résumé that includes a pair of regular-season MVPs, eight All-NBA selections (four on the first team) and the record for all-time 3-pointers without question moved him up the NBA’s all-time player rankings.
With Curry’s monumental 13th-career season in mind, we’re looking ahead to the 2022 NFL season and asking the question:
Which NFL player will move up the all-time rankings with a Steph Curry-like performance in 2022?
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Rams QB Matthew Stafford
Stafford has been a quality — and elite at times — quarterback throughout his career, and his Super Bowl-winning season with the Rams took his résumé to the next level. However, he’s not done yet, as the Rams got even better this offseason. (Hard to believe but it’s true!) If Stafford can win another title, he will be mentioned as one of the best QBs of his era and among the select group of QBs with multiple Super Bowl rings.
Chiefs TE Travis Kelce
Kelce holds a number of tight end records already: He averages 5.5 catches and 70.9 receiving yards per game in his career (most by TE all-time). His 9,006 receiving yards are the most by a tight end in his first 10 seasons, and Kelce has only played nine. He’s the only tight end in NFL history with multiple 100-plus-catch seasons. Also, he has reached 1,000 receiving yards in six straight seasons (longest all-time streak by TE).
He’s one of the best of his generation, BUT I truly believe if he has another big year and the Chiefs win the Super Bowl (without Tyreek Hill), it will be time to really consider him in the “greatest tight end of all time” discussion. See you there, Tony.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers could elevate himself to G.O.A.T. status if he can win a championship without Davante Adams, nurturing a young crop of wide receivers along the way. The four-time MVP is one of the greatest quarterbacks the league has ever seen, but to win it all when so many people assume the passing game will take a step back without Adams would be a HUGE statement.
Colts QB Matt Ryan
Heading into the 2022 season, Ryan ranks eighth in NFL history in passing yards (59,735) and ninth in pass TDs (367). The 37-year-old quarterback is entering his 15th NFL season — his first with the Colts — and is in his best situation since the Falcons’ run to Super Bowl LI. With a Jonathan Taylor-led running game and talented weapons in the pass game, look for Ryan’s production to flirt with his 2016 MVP numbers.
Broncos QB Russell Wilson
In 2022, a lot of the league’s young stars (Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow, etc.) will be trying to establish themselves in the all-time rankings. But, when thinking about who’s moving up, I have to consider players who have already established a legacy. Enter Russell Wilson. He has become one of the league’s top QBs (nine-time Pro Bowler) over his 10 seasons in Seattle, but many considered his Super Bowl win the product of a dominant, Legion of Boom-led defense. So in his first season in Denver, Wilson (who’ll face the doubters like Curry did before he won Finals MVP for the first time) will once again show his overall brilliance on the field, and if he carries a loaded Broncos team to the Super Bowl and earns the league MVP award, there is no doubt he will rise in the all-time QB rankings.
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