Updated NFL MVP Odds After Week 4
There weren't too many changes in my latest MVP odds. However, J.J. Watt did make a major move up the rankings. He's proving to be one of the more dominant defensive players in the NFL. His ability to both stuff the run and rush the passer makes him a legitimate MVP candidate.
Another significant change includes a major drop for C.J. Spiller. The talented running back is not only facing an banged-up shoulder but also the return of Fred Jackson to the lineup. It's tough for any running back that splits carries to win the MVP award.
Check out the rest of the article to see the top-25 MVP candidates.
The Not Top 10
25. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Previous Rank: No. 20
Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions aren't having the type of season they envisioned. Offensively, Detroit is struggling to find the end zone. Stafford has only thrown three touchdown passes, compared to the 11 he threw in the first four games of the 2011 season.
24. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Previous Rank: N/A
Drew Brees showed this past weekend that he's still one of the top quarterbacks in the league. However, he'll have a hard time remaining in contention for the MVP award if the New Orleans Saints keep losing.
23. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins
Previous Rank: N/A
Robert Griffin III is getting all the attention, but Alfred Morris is also having an excellent season. He continues to get the bulk of the carries and is taking advantage of his touches. On the season, Morris is averaging 4.6 yard per carry.
22. Tim Jennings, Chicago Bears
Previous Rank: No. 22
Tim Jennings leads the NFL in interceptions. He's doing a good job reading the quarterback's eyes and quickly breaking on the ball. Because of the Chicago Bears' aggressive defense, there's a good chance Jennings finishes the season with a high number of interceptions.
21. Calais Campbell, Arizona Cardinals
Previous Rank: No. 21
Calais Campbell is an excellent all-around football player, as he excels at stuffing the run and generating pressure on the quarterback. The issue facing Campbell is that he might not register enough sacks to remain in the top 25 of the MVP race.
20. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks
Previous Rank: N/A
Marshawn Lynch's production is so much more impressive because the opponent knows the Seattle Seahawks want to feed him the ball. While Russell Wilson is having a nice season, he doesn't scare defenses enough to pull defenders out of the box.
19. C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
Previous Rank: No. 7
This weekend showed a glimpse of how the Buffalo Bills plan on using both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. The fact that Spiller won't be getting the majority of the carries really hurts his MVP chances. He has the talent to win the award, but he needs the touches.
18. Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins
Previous Rank: No. 19
Despite having a banged-up knee and playing a tough Arizona Cardinals defense, Reggie Bush managed to register 67 yards. Bush's ability to fight through this injury helps his chances to win the MVP award. His durability has always been a question mark, but this is a positive sign.
17. Eli Manning, New York Giants
Previous Rank: No. 13
Eli Manning isn't quite having the season he expected, as he's had some up-and-down performances. However, he's still putting up good numbers and helping the New York Giants win football games.
16. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
Previous Rank: No. 17
Jamaal Charles is on a roll right now and making a major move in the MVP race. He looks to be fully recovered from last season's knee injury. So much of Charles' game depends on his speed and quickness. This is why he needs to be fully healthy in order to be effective.
15. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Previous Rank: No. 12
Ben Roethlisberger had a bye last week, but has done enough in past weeks to remain in the MVP hunt. The Pittsburgh Steelers' lack of a running game means Roethlisberger will have plenty of opportunities to put up big numbers.
14. Arian Foster, Houston Texans
Previous Rank: No. 2
The Houston Texans continue to make Arian Foster the focal point of their offense. This means he gets plenty of opportunities to pick up yardage and score touchdowns. However, it also hurts his yards-per-carry average. His 3.7 yards per carry is the main reason he dropped in the ranking.
13. Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers
Previous Rank: No. 6
Clay Matthews is on pace to have the best statistical season of his career. He has been able to register a sack in every game this season, except for one. Matthews' ability to generate pressure on the quarterback is a major key to the Green Bay Packers' success.
12. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Previous Rank: No. 16
The more time Peyton Manning has to develop a relationship with his weapons, the more success he'll find. Manning is also still trying to work off the rust from missing an entire season due to injury. His performance against the Oakland Raiders could be the start of a run.
11. Victor Cruz, New York Giants
Previous Rank: No. 15
Despite some drops in the first game of the season, Victor Cruz has been one of the more explosive playmakers in the NFL. He has been able to provide Eli Manning with a reliable target and big-play threat. Cruz is proving that last year's success wasn't a fluke.
No. 10: Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
Previous Rank: No. 3
Calvin Johnson can put up great numbers and still be outside the top 10 of the MVP race. This is because he's on a team that's playing uninspired football. Typically, the winner of the MVP award comes from a team that's playing well.
Also hurting Johnson's chances is the fact that he has only one touchdown catch on the season. He'll need to significantly increase his pace if he wants a chance at winning the MVP award.
The fact that no other receiver has stepped up this season is also an issue. Opposing defenses will continue to roll coverage to Johnson's side of the field. He desperately needs someone like Titus Young to step up.
No. 9: LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
Previous Rank: No. 11
Andy Reid and the media spend too much time worrying about Michael Vick. They should focus more on LeSean McCoy and his ability to dominate a football game. McCoy is arguably the shiftiest player in the entire NFL. He can make something out of nothing better than anyone in the league.
The Philadelphia Eagles might be winless if McCoy wasn't in the lineup. He provides the offense with stability and big-play potential. McCoy is the type of player that can change the momentum of a game on one play.
It's also important to recognize McCoy's versatility. He's an every-down back who can dominate on the ground, catch the ball out of the backfield and protect the quarterback.
No. 8: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Previous Rank: No. 10
Aaron Rodgers was able to finally break out of an early-season slump to outduel Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. This was only Rodgers' second 300-yard game and multiple-touchdown performance. For most quarterbacks, these numbers would be excellent, but there are much higher expectations surrounding Rodgers.
It was great to see the Green Bay Packers make more of an effort to establish a running game. Their commitment to the ground game helped open things for the passing attack. It also helped slow down the pass rush.
Moving forward, I'm still a little worried about the offensive line's ability to keep Rodgers upright. The Saints have one of the worst pass rushes in the entire NFL. Green Bay will face much tougher tests as the season progresses.
No. 7: Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons
Previous Rank: No. 14
Despite all the hype surrounding Julio Jones, Roddy White remains Matt Ryan's top target. He's a well-rounded receiver who can stretch the field and work the underneath routes. This past weekend, White showed that he's also a clutch player.
His 59-yard reception is the main reason the Atlanta Falcons were able to pull off a come-from-behind win against the Carolina Panthers. He made that catch while facing double coverage and with the Falcons on their own 1-yard line.
White's shot at the MVP award gets a bump from the presence of both Ryan and Jones. These are two players that help White play to his potential.
No. 6: Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Previous Rank: No. 9
Tom Brady and the entire New England Patriots offense dominated the Buffalo Bills. They were able to pick up big chunks of yardage in both the running and passing game. Brady's accuracy and ability to attack the deep part of the field really opened things up.
One of the keys to Brady's success this week was the offensive line's ability to provide good protection. He was able to stand in the pocket and work the ball around to his top targets, Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski. This is the type of performance that can serve as a momentum-builder for Brady.
Moving forward, opposing defenses won't be able to solely focus on shutting Brady down. Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden showed that they can carry the load if given an opportunity. Of course, once teams start to focus on the running game, Brady will take advantage.
No. 5: Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Previous Rank: No. 8
Joe Flacco's development and the increased explosiveness of the Baltimore Ravens' offense has been one of the more talked-about topics in the NFL. The Ravens are showing more confidence in Flacco by allowing him to run a more up-tempo attack.
These extra opportunities to throw the football have helped put Flacco in the MVP discussion. He's proving that he has the ability to both sustain drives and make big plays down the field. It's still early, but Flacco is on pace to have the best season of his career.
A key to Flacco remaining in the MVP race is his ability to avoid turnovers. He's going to have increased passing attempts and must make sure he makes good decisions.
No. 4: Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
Previous Rank: No. 4
Robert Griffin III is an offensive juggernaut, compiling a total of 1,322 total offensive yards and eight touchdowns. His performance is one of the few reasons the Washington Redskins are playing competitive football. If it weren't for a bonehead mistake by Josh Morgan, the Redskins could be sitting on top of the NFC East with a 3-1 record.
The most impressive part about Griffin's play is the fact that he's avoiding turnovers. It's tough for rookie quarterbacks to avoid mistakes when they are being relied on to be the team's top playmaker.
Griffin is also finding success despite playing with average talent at the wide-receiver position. His top target, Pierre Garcon, has yet to play a full game. Griffin has managed to make do with the likes of Leonard Hankerson, Fred Davis and Josh Morgan.
No. 3: Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
Previous Rank: No. 5
Ray Rice hasn't been overly dominant on the ground. However, his ability to also contribute in the passing game is what makes him so valuable. Rice is the one player that keeps the Baltimore Ravens' offense running at such a high level.
A lot has been made of the development of Joe Flacco, but he still relies on Rice to provide stability. There are countless situations where Rice makes a tough catch, picks up a key first down or makes a necessary block in pass protection.
Look for Rice's numbers to continue to increase as the season progresses. Baltimore knows that he's the key to the offense's success.
No. 2: J.J. Watt, Houston Texans
Previous Rank: N/A
The fact that this is J.J. Watt's first appearance on this list is a complete mistake. He's been playing at a very high level all season long. Watt is one of those rare players that can make a major impact, but somehow not get the attention he deserves.
So far this season, he has managed to record more than one sack in each game. However, Watt isn't just a pass-rusher, as he also does a great job stuffing the run.
He is starting to make people rethink how they look at the 5-technique position. Typically, they are asked to stop the run and provide a minimal pass rush. Watt is proving to be an all-around great player and is one of the key reasons the Houston Texans' defense is so dominant.
No. 1: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Previous Rank: No. 1
The Atlanta Falcons are one of three undefeated teams left in the NFL. This is thanks in large part to the play of quarterback Matt Ryan. He's leading one of the most explosive offenses in the league, and his 112.1 passer rating gives him the best mark in the NFL.
Arguably, the most impressive part of Ryan's game has been his ability to attack the deep part of the field. He's making a strong push to utilize explosive playmakers like Roddy White and Julio Jones. These two are helping make things easier on Ryan.
Don't overlook the impact new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has had on Ryan's play. He's allowed Ryan to throw the ball more and take those chances down the field.