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NFL: Ranking the MVP Candidates

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NFL: Ranking the MVP Candidates

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

This may be the tightest race for the NFL MVP ever. There’s arguably more than five guys that could be in the running to win the end of season award. By definition, the award should go to the most valuable player not only to their team, but to the league itself.

Guys like Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, J.J. Watt, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Andrew Luck all are in the running for the award. You could make an argument for any of them too.

Manning and Peterson are both coming off of what could have been career threatening injuries. They both put up record numbers and have put their respective teams in the playoff hunt and a run at the Super Bowl.

Johnson, topped Jerry Rice for the most receiving yards in a season and did it in one fewer game than Rice. Johnson looks like he could quite possibly be the best receiver this game has ever seen.

Then the trio of quarterbacks like Brady, Rodgers, and Luck has put up staggering numbers and have single handily led their teams to a playoff berth. They’re certainly the most valuable on their team and without the seasons the other three guys previously mentioned have had would be the MVP.

Then defensive guys like Watt and Aldon Smith have had a defensive season like none other. They both are in the hunt to break the single season sack record and have led their respective defenses. There’s no question these two are the best defenders in the league today.

This is my list of the order in which the race should be ranked.

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7. Tom Brady- New England Patriots

Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a normal Tom Brady year for the quarterback out of Michigan. He’s thrown for 4,276 yards and 30 touchdowns to lead his team to an 11-4 record and the AFC East crown.

If Brady wasn’t behind center for the Patriots they certainly wouldn’t be in the position they’re in this season. Unfortunately for him, these kind of numbers are expected and don’t really compare to the rest of the guys in the hunt for MVP.

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6. Aaron Rodgers- Green Bay Packers

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Last year’s MVP has had a quietly successful season. At one point in the year we were wondering what was wrong with Rodgers and questioning whether the Packers would even make the playoffs this year.

Well, when push came to shove and the games became must-win, Rodgers was superb and led the Packers to the NFC North division title and in the hunt for a first round bye. Rodgers has 3,588 yards and 32 touchdowns to lead his team by himself this year.

The Packers had no ground game and tons of injuries on both sides of the football. This was one of the finest years out of Rodgers for what he’s done to lead this team to where they are.

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5. J.J. Watt- Houston Texans

Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Like the Heisman, the MVP doesn’t award many defensive players. J.J. Watt is going to find out the hard way at the end of the year after having one of the best season’s ever by a defender.

Watt, has 74 tackles and 19.5 sacks this season. He’s within 2.5 sacks of breaking the NFL record set by Michael Strahan for sacks in a season. Even with those solid numbers and many swatted balls at the line of scrimmage, Watt won’t win the MVP.

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4. Andrew Luck- Indianapolis Colts

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Andrew Luck has had the best season of any rookie ever to step foot in the NFL. He has literally broken every rookie record but the passing touchdown’s and has his team in the playoffs after a 2-14 season last year.

The Colts were 1-7 in one possession games last season and are 8-1 this year which is an NFL record. Mix that in with Luck’s seven game winning touchdowns which is tied with Peyton Manning for the NFL record and you see that literally one player made that much of a difference on one team.

Many think Robert Griffin III should be considered, but he has nothing on these numbers and isn’t as valuable to his team let alone the league like Luck. It’s safe to say Luck will be winning many of these awards in the near future.

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3. Calvin Johnson- Detroit Lions

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

If the Detroit Lions were a playoff caliber team then Calvin Johnson would be the front runner for this award. He broke Jerry Rice’s NFL receiving yards record on Saturday night with getting his 1,892nd receiving yard. What’s remarkable is the Lions have no running game or any other receiving weapons and he still accomplished this.

Teams key in each week double and sometimes triple covering Johnson. He’s still so good to get open or go and get balls and lead his team to success. Johnson has 117 receptions and five touchdowns this year. He’s definitely one of the best players in the league. His team held him back for this award.

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2. Adrian Peterson- Minnesota Vikings

Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

It doesn’t look like Peterson will break Eric Dickerson’s NFL rushing record. He still needs 206 yards to break that mark with one game left. It’s doubtful he will get that many yards on a good Green Bay Packers defense.

Nevertheless, Peterson had one of the most surprising and dominant season’s out of anyone in NFL history. After tearing his ACL in the season finale on New Years Eve last year, he came back stronger than ever. Most guys miss a year with that kind of injury and he came back within months.

Peterson has 1,812 yards on 289 carries and 11 touchdowns this season. He’s already clinched the rushing title and is arguable the comeback player of the year with Peyton Manning. It’s crazy to think he could do this that quickly, but there’s a reason he’s among the best.

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1. Peyton Manning- Denver Broncos

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Manning has already won an NFL record four of these awards, but this season is among his finest. Many questioned whether he could be a factor the rest of his career after sitting out last season due to neck surgery. People thought he could be paralyzed with one wrong hit and thought he was jeopardizing the rest of his life with coming back.

The Colts cut their franchise player without having faith he would be what he is. Manning not only came back strong, but he is having a season of the ages. Manning has led the Broncos to a first round bye and the favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl this year. He’s thrown for nearly 4,500 yards and 31 touchdown passes so far and looking stronger than ever.

This is his award to lose this season.