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NFL Awards: Percy Harvin and 7 Surprising MVP Candidates

Eli NachmanyCorrespondent IIINovember 4, 2016

NFL Awards: Percy Harvin and 7 Surprising MVP Candidates

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    While players like Matt Ryan, J.J. Watt and Aaron Rodgers have garnered a lot of MVP hype, other players in the league have emerged as underrated dark horses.

    This article is less about the big-name stars as it is about showing some love to the second-tier MVP candidates who are just as qualified as the Ryans, Watts and Rodgerses.

    The following players may get the odd vote here or there, but they are all certainly deserving of the honor.

A.J. Green

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    This season's iteration of Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green has dominated his competition and set a precedent by which highly drafted, young receivers should follow.

    Green has caught 43 passes (third in the NFL) for 628 yards (first in the NFL) and six touchdowns (second in the NFL). Beyond that, he's been targeted 65 times on the season, which is good for third in the league.

    It's safe to say this receiver is the entire Bengals offense, and his stellar play has opened things up for mid-tier receivers like Andrew Hawkins and Armon Binns.

Von Miller

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    Much has been made of Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos' offense, but Von Miller is quietly having another season for the ages.

    Fresh off of a very good rookie campaign, Miller has been the best blitzing 4-3 linebacker in the league by far. According to Pro Football Focus, this Bronco has 32 total quarterback pressures on the year. Philip Wheeler is a distant second with just 10.

    Of those pressures, Miller has come up with six sacks, and he's propelled the Broncos with his great play.

Joe Flacco

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    Though the Baltimore Ravens lost Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb, this year's iteration of the team should be just fine thanks to Joe Flacco and a high-powered offense.

    Flacco has been spectacular this season, and while his team's defense has been in the middle of the pack, the Ravens are flying high at 5-1 going into Week 7.

    On the year, he's completed an impressive 129-of-209 passes for 1,690 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions. His 8.1 yards per attempt is third in the league, and his team is atop its division.

Percy Harvin

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    Unlike a good portion of the players in this article, Percy Harvin will receive a lot of MVP votes when the panel convenes. This Viking has lit the NFL on fire in the first six games of 2012 and should continue.

    Of receivers who have received 36 or more targets, Harvin has the highest target-to-catch percentage, coming down with 79 percent of the 62 targets (sixth in the NFL) he's received.

    This former Florida Gator leads the league in both receptions (49) and yards after catch (316). After Harvin's 316 yards after catch, Darren Sproles is a distant second with 230. Such goes to show just how explosive this Minnesota pass-catcher is with the ball in his hands.

C.J. Spiller

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    Though he's back to something of a timeshare role with Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller reminds me of Jamaal Charles in 2010 when the Chiefs back split carries with Thomas Jones and still managed to have an MVP-caliber year.

    Spiller is averaging an insane 7.6 yards per carry (compared to Charles' record 6.4 yards per carry in 2010), and while that number is bound to go down, the dynamic rusher makes big plays.

    Spiller has single-handedly won some games for Buffalo, and if he continues to play at a high level, propelling the Bills to a playoff berth, look for him to garner some consideration for the MVP award.

Cameron Wake

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    The 3-3 Dolphins have played well with rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but the team owes a large portion of its success to its defense.

    Cameron Wake, the leader of a vaunted Miami defensive unit, is rushing the quarterback at a prolific rate and has 6.5 sacks to his name.

    With 45 total pressures on the quarterback, Wake has been an absolute beast up front for the Dolphins and he's kept his team in contention with a .500 mark through six games.

Peyton Manning

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    This once-great signal-caller is officially back after leading a defining, 35-24 comeback victory over the division-rival San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football.

    Manning has some very good numbers on the season, with 14 touchdowns, four interceptions and 154-of-227 (67.8 percent) passes complete for 1,808 yards.

    Though another Bronco, Von Miller, is in this article, Manning has played well enough on offense to be a legitimate MVP candidate.

    Follow me on Twitter @EliNachmany.

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