NFL MVP 2011 Predictions: Defensive Candidates Who Will Get Snubbed by Voters

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 2, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 01:  Jason Pierre-Paul #90 of the New York Giants reacts after a sack in the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium on January 1, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

A defensive player hasn't captured the NFL MVP Award since Lawrence Taylor in 1986. That's not going to change this season with the quarterback-minded voters, despite several candidates who deserve consideration.

Below are the three best candidates for the league's top individual honor from the defensive side.

Jason Pierre-Paul

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 22:  Jason Pierre-Paul #90 of the New York Giants celebrates in the second half against the San Francisco 49ers during the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park on January 22, 2012 in San Francisco, California. The Giants b
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Pierre-Paul was a monster for the New York Giants down the stretch as they made a mad dash for the playoffs. He finished the season with 86 tackles and 16.5 sacks, which accounted for more than 100 yards lost for opposing teams.

In today's NFL where high-powered passing attacks are more prominent than ever, elite pass rushers are vital. Since the award is based on value, you could make an argument the Giants wouldn't have made the postseason and therefore wouldn't be in the Super Bowl without Pierre-Paul.

It's tough to be much more valuable than that. There's always a lot made of finishing strong before the voting takes place and no player did it better than the Giants defensive end in 2012.

Terrell Suggs

BALTIMORE, MD - JANUARY 15:  Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens reacts during the third quarter of the AFC Divisional playoff game against the Houston Texans at M&T Bank Stadium on January 15, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/G
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens continue to be built on their strong defense and no player is more important on the unit than Suggs. The veteran linebacker compiled 70 tackles, 14 sacks, seven forced fumbles and two interceptions, proving once again he really does it all.

Joe Flacco endured his worst season since his rookie campaign running Baltimore's offense, which means there was a lot of pressure on the defense to step up each week. More often than not it was Suggs leading the charge, with Ray Lewis starting to show signs of aging.

There's no way the Ravens have such a terrific regular season without his terrific play on the outside. Despite that, there hasn't been an ounce of talk about him being the MVP.

NaVorro Bowman

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - NOVEMBER 20:  NaVorro Bowman #53 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after making a tackled against the Arizona Cardinals at Candlestick Park on November 20, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Bowman's rise from fringe contributor to dominant force is the main reason the San Francisco 49ers advanced much farther than most people, including their own fans, expected. He had 143 tackles, which was 97 more than last season, to go along with eight passes defended and two sacks.

Just like Suggs, Bowman played on a team with a mediocre offense. If he didn't produce each and every week, the 49ers were in serious trouble. Luckily, he was able to maintain his MVP form throughout the entire season.

He's not a household name, but if he keeps playing like he did in 2012, it won't be long before he is. Maybe then he'll get the recognition he deserves.