The early stages of the NFL season are providing us with a handful of players putting up surprising numbers. However, to win the MVP award, a player must produce at a high level for an entire season. This doesn't mean that someone like C.J. Spiller can't continue his strong play. It just means we need to take a wait-and-see approach.
The upcoming slides break down those who are currently in the running for the MVP award.
25. Tim Jennings, Chicago Bears
Tim Jennings has opened the season on a real hot streak for the Chicago Bears. He has already recorded three interceptions while also playing solid all-around defense.
24. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys appear on track for another roller-coaster season. The only way Romo gets in the MVP discussion is by consistently playing well. Because of his past, one bad game really hurts the perception people have of him.
23. Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins
Reggie Bush is off to a very impressive start. He's second in the league in rushing yards, behind only C.J. Spiller. The issue for Bush is that he's not going to get many MVP votes playing on a terrible team like the Miami Dolphins.
22. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger always gives the Pittsburgh Steelers a solid performance. However, he just doesn't put up the type of numbers needed to win the MVP award. The only real chance he has is if the Steelers are somehow in the running for the best record. This would help magnify his accomplishments.
21. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Look for Cam Newton to continue climbing up this list. This past weekend, he showed that he's still a dual-threat quarterback capable of putting a lot of points on the board. His ability to run the football is one of the main reasons he'll remain in the MVP race all season.
20. Calais Campbell, Arizona Cardinals
Calais Campbell has quietly developed into one of the better defensive linemen in the NFL. He's the type of player that both rushes the passer and stuffs the run. His 10-tackle and two-sack performance against the New England Patriots was very impressive. This is the type of production that gets defensive players noticed.
19. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Matthew Stafford will put up the type of numbers needed to be considered for the MVP award. However, he'll also have a high number of interceptions. The Detroit Lions are counting on Stafford to carry the offense. He'll get a ton of opportunities to throw the football, but that also means more opportunities to make costly mistakes.
18. Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
It's obvious that Hakeem Nicks is one of the more talented wide receivers in the league. He has a chance to work his way into the top 10 if he can show more consistency. However, it's hard to ignore a game in which he nearly gets to the 200-yard mark.
17. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Philip Rivers is another quarterback who needs to improve his consistency. One game he looks great, another he looks terrible. If he plays more like he did against the Tennessee Titans, he'll move up the list.
16. Victor Cruz, New York Giants
Victor Cruz rebounded nicely after dropping a few balls against the Dallas Cowboys. Cruz's big-play ability helps him get noticed. Staying in the MVP race has a lot to do with staying in the spotlight.
15. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Despite struggling some against the Philadelphia Eagles, Joe Flacco is in the MVP discussion. It's obvious he has taken a step forward in his development. A lot of that has to do with the fact that he is very comfortable in this offensive system.
14. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles could very well be 0-2 this season if it weren't for LeSean McCoy. He's the most explosive, versatile and reliable offensive player on the roster. McCoy is the guy that stabilizes the offense for Philadelphia.
13. Eli Manning, New York Giants
Anytime a quarterback tops the 500-yard mark, he's going to get noticed. However, Eli Manning also threw three interceptions in the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He needs to cut down on the turnovers if he hopes to be a legitimate candidate for the MVP award.
12. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons
Roddy White is Mr. Consistent, as he has topped the the 1,000-yard mark in each of the past five seasons. The Atlanta Falcons' new up-tempo offense will provide White with even more opportunities to pad his stats.
11. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning's struggles against the Atlanta Falcons hinder his chances at winning the MVP award. However, I'm sure Manning is more worried about fixing the communication issues in the Denver Broncos offense.
Despite the Baltimore Ravens' attempt to open up the offense, Ray Rice continues to be the best offensive player on the roster.
He's a multi-talented running back who produces in both the running and passing attack.
All the talk of Joe Flacco taking the next step in his development also needs to mention Rice, as he's a major factor in Flacco's development.
Rice's production is also helped by the fact the Ravens lack a great second option. Right now, they're rolling with rookie Bernard Pierce as the No. 2 running back. Pierce has seven carries for only 23 yards so far this season.
Basically, this means Rice will have plenty of opportunities to produce.
Robert Griffin III didn't disappoint after an impressive debut against the New Orleans Saints.
He collected three more touchdowns and a total of 288 offensive yards against the St. Louis Rams. In this game, he showed the type of plays he can make with his feet (82 yards rushing).
The Washington Redskins ended up losing the game, but that wasn't because of Griffin III. Actually, he was leading the team down the field to tie the game until Josh Morgan's boneheaded penalty.
Griffin III is a touchdown machine, as he is among the leaders when combining passing and rushing touchdowns after two games. Making explosive plays and scoring touchdowns will keep Griffin III in the MVP race. However, it'll be tough for him to keep pace with the other top candidates.
The fact is that Griffin III will have some games where he looks like a rookie. Those games will keep him behind in the race.
The pressure the Arizona Cardinals were able to create really rattled Tom Brady.
His inability to convert on third downs played a major role in the New England Patriots' upset loss to the Cardinals. Despite some struggles, Brady was still able to top the 300-yard mark.
Brady will put up big numbers this season because the offense relies on his production. However, losing to the Cardinals is a good way to get bumped down a few spots on this list. Only one player can win the MVP award, and the winner typically doesn't have many games like this.
The good thing for Brady is that this happened early in the season. By the time the votes start to come in, this game will be a distant memory.
All is well in Green Bay after the Packers pounded the Chicago Bears on Thursday night.
However, Aaron Rodgers hasn't really looked that great. He's struggling to deliver an accurate football, and for the most part, he was contained by both the Bears and San Francisco 49ers.
The difference is that containing Rodgers means he still approaches the 300-yard mark, while for other quarterbacks it looks very different. Rodgers will find his groove, but it might be a few games until he gets into form.
Green Bay should be a little concerned with the play of the offensive line. It's already allowed Rodgers to be sacked a total of eight times. Pressure is the one thing that can keep a quarterback from playing at a high level.
Calvin Johnson continues to make impact plays for the Detroit Lions despite constantly facing double-teams.
A great example is the way the San Francisco 49ers planned to limit his production. They put a safety over the top and forced Johnson to work over the middle of the field.
However, Johnson was still able to manage eight catches for 94 yards. The one thing I'm a little shocked to see is that after two games, Johnson has failed to reach the end zone. This was an issue Sunday night, as the Lions' only touchdown came with less than two minutes left in the game.
The one big thing to keep an eye on is Johnson's targets. Matthew Stafford threw in Johnson's direction a total of 12 times this past week. Johnson is too talented of a player not to produce if the ball is coming his way.
Alex Smith's passing-yards total isn't outstanding, but that's not the only thing to consider when discussing possible MVPs.
Smith is leading the San Francisco 49ers to a winning record by moving the chains and showing complete control of the offense. The most impressive stat he boasts is a completion percentage above 70 percent.
He's also yet to throw an interception. Last season, his five interceptions were the lowest number for any quarterback with more than 400 passing attempts. The fact that Smith avoids turnovers should absolutely help defray the lack of passing yards he tallies.
The MVP shouldn't have to throw for more than 5,000 yards. He should be able to top the 3,000-yard mark, help his team win and avoid mistakes.
The only way Arian Foster doesn't get over 20 touches every game this season is if he suffers an injury.
Because of how well the Houston Texans are playing, Foster will get plenty of opportunities to close out games.
The Texans' defensive and offensive productivity have allowed them to open sizable leads in their first two games. They then used Foster to run out the clock at the end of the game.
Foster isn't just a one-dimensional player, as he is also an important part of the passing attack. The Texans understand that Foster is their top playmaker. This is why they make an effort to get him touches.
After just two games, Clay Matthews has already tied his sack total from all of last season.
Matthews' six sacks gives him a three-sack lead on the rest of the competition. His ability to generate pressure on Jay Cutler is one of the main reasons the Green Bay Packers were able to beat the Chicago Bears on Thursday night.
It's difficult for a defensive player to win the MVP award, but if Matthews can keep anything close to this pace, he'll be a legitimate contender. Generating pressure on the quarterback is one of those things that gains a ton of attention.
Matthews' play is key to how well the Packers do this season. They need the defense to continue to improve if they want to make another Super Bowl run.
C.J. Spiller has done an excellent job filling in for the injured Fred Jackson.
Actually, the Buffalo Bills will have a hard time taking Spiller off the field once Jackson returns. Spiller is currently the league leader in rushing yards with 292. What's more impressive is the fact that he's averaging more than 10 yards per carry.
He has proven to be more than a running threat, as he also contributed more than 70 receiving yards this season. Watching Spiller play, it's hard not to immediately see how much more explosive he is than anyone else on the field.
That type of quickness is something defenses will struggle to stop all season. Something else to keep in mind is the fact that Chan Gailey is running the show in Buffalo. He does a great job designing an offensive attack to make the most of the talent on the field.
Gailey will make sure that Spiller is put in a position to succeed.
Matt Ryan is playing the best football of his career. This new up-tempo offense the Atlanta Falcons are running is providing him with plenty of opportunities to make plays.
Ryan also benefits from having two top-notch receivers in Roddy White and Julio Jones.
Outperforming Peyton Manning on Monday Night Football is a great way to get noticed by voters. It will be tough to keep this pace, but that doesn't mean Ryan won't continue to put up stellar numbers.
The one thing to keep an eye on is the offensive line. Last season, this group struggled to protect Ryan. Atlanta needs the offensive line to continue to play well if it wants Ryan to build off this fast start.