By week 14 of the NFL season, typically the MVP race has dwindled down to two, maybe three candidates. And even then, more often than not there is a clear-cut favorite to win. Take
Last season was a bit different. won based on his clutch play down the stretch, leading the Colts to nine straight wins to end the season. He wasn't the best quarterback statistically. Far from it in fact. Guys like and has career seasons through the air. Then there were guys like , whose league leading 1,760 rushing yards helped carry the Vikings to an NFC North division championship.
But Manning won. Not for his numbers, but for his value. And that's how it should be.
This season, the race is wide open. Although there are three big names leading the class of candidates (Manning, Brees and the surprisingly dominant), the media seems to be dismissing the great play of other superstars who deserve to be in the consideration. Guys who might not get the recognition from casual fans, but will get it from me. So to the following players, let me just say, I see you.
Here is my list of deserving candidates and who I think will win:
QB Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts: When you're the leader of a 13-0 team, you pretty much automatically make the list of potential MVP winners. The three time winner is currently in the top five in passing yards (1st), touchdowns (2nd), completion % (T-4th), and passer rating (5th), but he has been on a bit of an interception binge recently. If he can guide the Colts to an undefeated season, his chances of winning are very high. But then again, if the Saints pull off the feat as well, voters may lean more towards Drew Brees, a guy who is yet to win the award. And you know how the NFL loves parity.
QB Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints: What can you say about the guy? He just finds ways to win. After starting off on a scoring tear, blowing everybody out of the water in a way reminiscent to the aforementioned 2007 Patriots, it appeared as if this was going to be Drew's season. Then he slowed down, and even though the Saints find themselves as 13-0, they have been struggling to pull out dubs over weak opponents (their last two wins have been by a total of six points). But across the board, Brees has better numbers than his counterpart in Manning. So as long as Drew keeps pulling out the victories, the award should be his.
QB Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings: 106.0 passer rating. A better than four to one TD-INT ratio. The best completion % in his nineteen year career. Favre is playing with more passion and desire than I've seen in quite a while. He has completely wiped away the image of himself in Jets green from his fans' minds. I have to admit, I was very doubtful of him coming into the season. But as a Niners fan, I'm allowed a lifetime of hatred and spite toward Brett. But I have to admit that the guy is proving me wrong. He has made clutch throw after clutch throw this season and he's all but locked up a first round bye in the playoffs. However, there is one daunting fact that prevents me from saying that he deserves to be the MVP: Adrian Peterson. Plus, its hard to vote against perfection. So at this point, I put him behind the other two quarterbacks.
RB, Tennessee Titans: In case you didn't know, the league's leading rusher is on pace to drop 2,000 yards on the ground. Only a handful of guys have ever done that. Oh, by the way, if he reaches the milestone, he claims he will buy his entire O-line a new car. I know that the Titans currently find themselves at 6-7, but they were 0-6 at one time. So if Johnson, and the (almost) unstoppable can find a way to sneak this team into the playoffs, Chris will have to be looked at as the front-runner ala Minnesota Twins catcher . But if it were ever possible to break the single season rushing record and not win the MVP this season would be it.
QB Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers: The Chargers are quietly the most dominant team in the NFL right now. They've won seven in a row, and a large bulk of that credit goes to Rivers. He is passing the ball very efficiently (103.7 passer rating) and is leading a team that has practically no rushing offense (31st in the league). If the rest of the candidates slip up down the stretch, or are benched to be rested for the postseason, Rivers stands a decent chance of pulling off the upset. Similar to Manning's dominance down the stretch last year.
CB Charles Woodson, Green Bay Packers: "What is this, college?" You say. The ‘97 Heisman winner is having arguably his best pro season to date. Woodson has disappeared the past few seasons after going to four Pro Bowls in his first four years. But now he has emerged as the leader on the league's best defense. The 9-4 Packers have been reenergized by the big play abilities of Charles, who is currently second in interceptions with eight. Although he doesn't have flashy skill position numbers and he doesn't get the media attention that the guys on the other side of the ball get, Woodson's shut down D deserves the kind of recognition that another Heisman nominee, Nebraska's DT Ndamukong Suh received this season. I'm not saying he's the best candidate, just that he too is deserving of the award, and at least should be mentioned in the debate.
SS Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers: I have only one argument here. When Polamalu went out with an injury, the Steelers fell apart. Their defense turned to garbage, their offense lost its identity, they LOST TO THE BROWNS. Maybe Troy is more important to that team's success than people think. I mean, it is called the Most Valuable Player award. Just saying, think about it.
Overall, I say that as long as the Saints stay undefeated, the award is Drew's to lose. But to be honest, I'm cool with whoever gets the MVP ...as long as it isn't Favre. F*** Favre.