Getty Images Odell Beckham Jr.

Odell Beckham Jr. can be irritating. He sometimes whines on the sidelines, lets trash-talking get in the way of his play and milks his personal spotlight.

But as much of an annoyance as he can be, Beckham may also be the best player in football. So why is he not in the MVP conversation? Bovada does not include Beckham in the betting site's top-eight candidates.

Beckham would probably say the NFL and football media is biased against him. That's not it. There's more. No wide receiver has ever won the AP NFL MVP Award.

The Statistical Case

Beckham is actually having his worst season in three years in the NFL (hmmm ... not the best way to start this case). He is averaging 83.79 receiving yards per game, down from 108.75 in 2014 and 96.67 in 2015. He averaged 1.00 touchdowns per game in 2014 and 0.87 in 2015. He is averaging 0.71 touchdowns this season.

But that doesn't tell the whole story. Beckham's first two Giants teams each went 6-10 -- 10-17 with Beckham in the lineup. This year's team is already 10-4. And Beckham is currently in the midst of one of the most remarkable stretches of any offensive player this season. Since Week 6, Beckham has an NFL-high 814 receiving yards and nine touchdown catches. It so happens the Giants are tied for an NFL-best 8-1 in that span.

For the season, Beckham is fourth in receiving yards (1,173), third in touchdown receptions (10) and third in receptions (85) with two more weeks to make up ground. But if the season started in mid-October, Beckham would blow out the field. Beckham struggled through the first third of the season, but he has been on a different level in the past nine weeks.

What does MVP really mean?

Cam Newton was the 2015 NFL MVP. His 3,837 passing yards were 16th in the league and his 35 touchdown passes were second. Newton led all quarterbacks with 636 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns, but his Total QBR of 65.1 was 12th in the league, behind Andy Dalton, Kirk Cousins, Tyrod Taylor, Jay Cutler and Ryan Fitzpatrick, among others. However, Newton's Panthers went 15-1, and he was the team's best player.

Beckham is on his first playoff team and the Giants are one of five current 10-win teams. He can finally say he is contributing to a legitimately good NFL team.

But even more relevant, Beckham can say he has won games for the Giants. Won games, as in, he has single-handedly pushed the dial from loss to win.

Putting stats aside, let's consider impact, like when the Giants beat the Ravens, 27-23, in Week 6. Beckham had touchdown receptions of 75 and 66 yards in the second half. The second touchdown came on a fourth-and-1 slant from the Giants' 34-yard line.


Two weeks later, Beckham delivered two scores in a 28-23 win against the rival Eagles.

In Week 10, Beckham made a double-move against the Bengals for a score before halftime on Monday Night Football. The Giants held on to win by a point.


This can go on and on. Beckham scored twice in a 27-13 win over the Browns. Sure, it was against the Browns, but who else can do this?


In Week 14, Beckham's 61-yard touchdown on a slant gave the Giants their only lead in a 10-7 win over the Cowboys.


And just last week, Beckham buried the Lions with a casual one-handed grab on third down.


During this 8-1 stretch for the Giants, the team has won six games by one score and two by two scores. In those two-score wins, Beckham had two touchdowns in one game and the dagger touchdown in the other. The Giants are good, but Beckham makes them great.

Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, T.Y. Hilton, Mike Evans and Jordy Nelson are outstanding receivers with outstanding stats. But Beckham is making the plays to physically win games. Isn't that what the MVP is for?

The Wide Receiver Precedent

No wide receiver has ever won the AP NFL MVP Award, generally acknowledged as the highest individual honor of an NFL season. Jerry Rice won the Pro Football Writers Association MVP, Newspaper Enterprise Association MVP and Sporting News Player of the Year (twice), but he never won AP NFL MVP Award. Defensive tackle Alan Page, placekicker Mark Moseley and linebacker Lawrence Taylor are the only non-quarterback or running backs to claim the honor. Rice finished second in the voting twice, behind John Elway in 1987 and Brett Favre in 1995.

Wide receivers were not quite as important in the first half of the NFL's life. Of the 18 best NFL seasons in terms of receiving yards, only Charley Hennigan's 1,746 in 1961 came before Rice's rookie year. Rice's generation showed the value of passing and turned the NFL into a passing league.

Running backs have received MVP recognition because they can show their skills more often. Adrian Peterson won the 2012 MVP with 348 rushing attempts. This season, MVP frontrunner Ezekiel Elliott has 310 attempts. That's a lot of plays with the ball.

Beckham has only been targeted 142 times this year. Eli Manning has 508 passing attempts this season, and it can be assumed Beckham is on the field for nearly all of those plays. Beckham's presence is felt every time he steps between the lines, even if blocking a rush.

This past Sunday, Beckham and his LSU teammate Jarvis Landry became the first two players in NFL history to start their careers with three-straight 80-reception seasons, which again shows the increasing value of wide receivers. Beckham has given the Giants more value more than any wide receiver in NFL history at the start of a career.


Man I'm talking wayyyyyy before hashtags #WeJustGettinStarted @juiceup14

A photo posted by Odell Beckham Jr (@obj) on

The Bottom Line

This is not a case for Beckham to necessarily win the MVP Award. Elliott is putting up remarkable numbers for a 12-2 team. Matt Ryan, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have been slinging it for good teams. Drew Brees is still being Drew Brees.

But Odell Beckham is the most valuable player at a position that is becoming more valuable by the season, and at this point, probably trumps the running back as the second-most important position on an NFL team. A season ago, the Giants lost eight one-score games. Beckham is getting the timely scores this year. He is the difference between a playoff team and a non-playoff team.

Maybe that isn't enough to be the MVP. But it should be enough to get in the conversation.

-- Follow Jeff Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband. Like Jeff Eisenband on Facebook.

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