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Andy Dalton is a viable NFL MVP candidate

Dalton has a lot of weapons, but is also showing a lot of improvement and leads the league in many important stats. If you want the player having the best season to win the MVP award, he is right there in the mix.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback is the most important position in the NFL. Good quarterbacks usually win games and good teams often have great quarterbacks. That is why, it is a quarterback who wins the MVP most of the time.

Since 1986, when Lawrence Taylor, a linebacker for the New York Giants was awarded with the trophy, only eight times has a different position than quarterback claimed it, including in 1997, which was shared with a quarterback.

Let's return to 2015. The names everybody has in mind for the MVP race range from Tom Brady, to Aaron Rodgers, to Andy Dalton. After struggling mightily last season, Dalton has bounced back and is performing like the best of the best, leading a truly special offense to a 6-0 record so far. One year after netting career lows in passing yards - actually tied with his rookie campaign - touchdown passes and registering a career-low TD/INT ratio, this year, Dalton leads the NFL in passer rating at 116.1. Passer rating is an old fashioned stat and does not account for much, truth be told, but it says a lot about what's going on with the Bengals this autumn.

There are some pundits who believe Andy Dalton is just taking advantage of all the weapons at his disposal; a pick-your poison offense. Of course he has great receivers, an elite offensive line, a very talented running back combo and an innovative offensive coordinator. The return of Tyler Eifert and Marvin Jones has been key, but Dalton has shown improvement after working with quarterback whisperer Tom House. He is not Rodgers, and he is not Brady, but the MVP award is all about narrative. It is not about who is the best player but who has had the best season. I mean, Steve McNair won it in 2003 - although he shared it with Peyton Manning.

We've seen Good Andy getting hot before, only to go back to earth a month later. He could probably regress in the near future, but right now he is as good as anyone. He has 14 touchdown passes and only two picks, has completed 67.4% of his passes and is averaging 9.1 yards per attempt. These are all career highs for the fifth year quarterback. His QBR - the ESPN quarterback rating, which is far better than passer rating in my opinion - is 84.2, one of the many league leading marks he has so far. He also leads the NFL on throws of at least 15 yards with a 64.1 completion percentage, and is completing 58.3% of throws that travel 20+ yards, the best rate in the NFL. And yes, that includes having A.J. Green, Eifert, Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill around. But, Brady also has had Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Peyton Manning used to have Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison and I could go on forever. This is a team sport, after all. Quarterbacks should have good weapons to help them win, that's how football works.

Joe Goodberry mentioned in his weekly film review on ESPN1530 that Dalton could be on the verge of pulling a Drew Brees, raising his level from a little above average to very good after a few years as a pro - he also agreed with a Matt Ryan comparison, which everybody would have taken last year. This year, Dalton is easily outpacing Ryan.

If you think the best player in the NFL should win the MVP, you would definitely have to include Dalton on your nominees list. He has the stats, the Bengals have the wins and he has the feeling. Running back Giovani Bernard said recently, "I wouldn't say I see a different (quarterback) one. I see a more comfortable one. He's out there just making plays and distributing the ball. He has really done a great job this entire season not forcing anything. He's really done a great job, and we're just following his lead."

Dalton is leading a great offense, and so far he is outplaying just about every quarterback in the NFL. The real question will be if he can keep it up for a 16-game season.

So far, he's an MVP candidate on my list.