Mo’ problems here … Back on NFL Thursday with our second miniseries on awarded Super Bowl MVPs (15-for-37) and Rookies of the Year (26-for-46). We have another New England Patriots cheating dilemma in determining the real Super Bowl MVP, of course, which is sadly going to happen too often over the next handful of months. Yay, for cheaters? Bleh.

Super Bowl XXXVIII MVP: Tom Brady, QB, New England (original); Deion Branch, WR, New England (revised, vacated)

People forget that the Patriots never won a Super Bowl in blowout fashion, which means they’re more lucky than anything else—and how cheating provides a little extra “luck” in close contests. In this game, New England beat the Carolina Panthers, 32-29, with a last-second field goal—the same way they beat the St. Louis Rams two years prior, actually. GOATs win in blowouts, you know … not on late field goals.

Cheatin’ Tom Brady won the MVP vote again, but he threw an INT, so we never would have picked him, anyway. He also needed 48 passes to gain his 354 passing yards, and Brady (100.4 QB rating) actually was outplayed by Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme (113.6). So, the voters were just dumb here, in truth. Who should the MVP be? And will that MVP then be vacated like we did in 2001?

One of the key factors in this game was ball control; the Pats offense held the ball for almost 39 minutes, and it wasn’t because of Brady’s 48 passing attempts. It was due to a grind-it-out running game, which totaled just 127 yards on 35 carries. But those carries took time off the clock, and they (mostly) kept the chains moving. But no single runner dominated for New England, so that’s out. What about the Panthers?

Delhomme had a lost fumble, as we’d otherwise pick him as the MVP. Carolina averaged 5.75 yards per carry, so we’re shocked it didn’t run the ball more 16 times. New England kicker Adam Vinatieri missed two other FG attempts before hitting the game winner. What we end up seeing here is Pats wide receiver Deion Branch: 10 receptions, 143 yards, 1 TD. He helped New England move the chains, too, clearly.

The value comes in the double-digit catches, as the Patriots’ per-rush average was mediocre, so the short passing game speaks volumes here, and it was Branch making the plays more than anything else in keeping the ball in the New England offense’s hands. He’s our pick for the MVP, even though we have to vacate it again, because of SpyGate.

2003 NFL ROTY: Anquan Boldin, WR, Arizona & Terrell Suggs, LB, Baltimore (original); Suggs (revised)

The Ravens won the AFC North, while the Cardinals missed the playoffs. So, who else can we consider to rival Suggs (12 sacks, 5 FFs, 3 PDs, 1 INT) here for the hardware? Green Bay Packers LB Nick Barnett (112 tackles, 6 PDs, 3 INTs, 2 sacks) is one, for sure, as his team won the NFC North. And that’s about it, as the other rookies of note also played for teams that did not qualify for the postseason.

Improvement from prior year? Well, that goes to Suggs and his teammates, after the team posted a 7-9 record in 2002. Meanwhile, Green Bay actually regressed by 2 victories from last year. That means Suggs gets this trophy all to himself. We chose not to give Suggs the 2002 Pac-10 MVP nod, so this is a good balancing of the scales in our minds, too.