As we draw closer to Super Bowl XLVI, the 2011 NFL MVP will be announced in just two short weeks.
Here is a look at the top three candidates, complete with the cases for and against them taking home the award. At the end, I'll give you my pick.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Pros: Aaron Rodgers threw for 45 touchdowns and just six interceptions this season, despite lacking a true running game. He also completed 68 percent of his passes. Many believe he had a better regular season than he did in 2010 before the Packers went on to win the Super Bowl. He led the Packers to a 15-1 record, best in the NFL. He also beat Brees and the Saints in Week 1.
Cons: Rodgers arguably had more weapons to throw to than Brees or Brady had. The combination of Greg Jennings, the rising Jordy Nelson and tight end Jermichael Finley was devastating for opponents. You add in veterans James Jones and Donald Driver and you have a well-rounded bunch offensively.
Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
Pros: For one, Drew Brees set the NFL record for passing yards in a season with 5,476. He also threw 46 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. Did I mention he set an NFL record for completion percentage, completing 71.2 percent of his throws?
Cons: Part of the reason Brees was able to excel this year more than seasons past was because he had the sixth-ranked rushing attack in the league, complete with offseason acquisition Darren Sproles and promising rookie Mark Ingram. Defenses had to concentrate more on the run than they had to for Rodgers.
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
Pros: Tom Brady led the Patriots to the No. 1 seed in the AFC in the regular season, throwing 39 touchdowns to 12 interceptions in the process. For the second straight year, Brady had a QB rating of over 100 and he finished the regular season in style, throwing 19 touchdowns to two interceptions in his final eight games. He did this despite having a running game that averaged a mediocre 4.0 yards per carry.
Cons: Brady had the worst ratio of touchdowns to interceptions compared to Rodgers and Brees. He also completed 65 percent of his throws (worse than Rodgers and Brees) and had a worse season than in 2010. Key word: "worse."
2011 NFL MVP: Aaron Rodgers
To me, the MVP race is between Brees and Rodgers. I wouldn't be upset if Brees won the award, but I think Rodgers' overall play overcomes Brees' numbers.
Throwing 45 touchdowns to six interceptions is simply astonishing. On top of that, Rodgers didn't throw multiple interceptions in any game this season, while Brees threw multiple interceptions in key moments of the Saints' losses against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and St. Louis Rams (two deplorable teams in their own right).
Also, team record, while normally not a good indicator of an individual's performance, applies here. Rodgers had a worse running game than Brees, yet he still won more games. He was a bigger part of the Packers' wins than Brees was for the Saints.