The Week 13 NFL schedule is almost complete. After Washington and New York play on Monday night, we'll have a firm grasp on what it will take to win the league MVP award, as well as what teams are playing their way into the playoffs and what teams are playing out of it.
Looking at each team's MVP through 13 weeks, there's a lot of QBs on the list. That can be expected, as QB is the most demanding physical and mental position on the field. QBs win and lose the game for their team each week, so with the praise and criticism also comes the biggest awards.
From Peyton Manning to Matt Ryan, there are some obvious names on this list that won't ruffle any feathers. Check out your team below to see which players made the cut for their team and which guys are in the mix for the league award, as well.
And don't forget, check out where each team comes in on the NFL power rankings list with Week 14 now on the docket.
1.Houston Texans: J.J. Watt
With 15 pass breakups and 15.5 sacks this season, Watt is completely making up for the lack of production with Brian Cushing sidelined via injury. He’s easily the best player on this fearsome defense—and a big the reason the Texans are 11-1.
2. Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan
Matty Ice has lead comeback after comeback this year. His only shortcoming was a dropped Tony Gonzalez pass against the New Orleans Saints during the team’s only loss. If he completes that comeback, we might be already handing him the league trophy.
3.Denver Broncos: QB Peyton Manning
What more can we say about Manning? NFL Comeback Player of the Year is already his, but if his Denver team gets to 12 or 13 wins won’t we be compelled to name him the MVP of the league, too?
4. New England Patriots: QB Tom Brady
Brady is in the top five in passing yards and touchdowns, as usual. He’s managed to keep the drop off from Rob Gronkowski’s injury to a minimum too, and the Patriots are already AFC East champs yet again. The Bradymeister keeps on rolling.
5. Baltimore Ravens: RB Ray Rice
If you needed further evidence why Rice, and not QB Joe Flacco, is this team’s MVP, check out the fourth quarter against Pittsburgh. Rice didn’t have a carry, and his team lost the game. When will John Harbaugh figure it out?
6. San Francisco 49ers: DE Aldon Smith
Leading the league in sacks at 16.5, Smith is only in his second NFL season. He’s also forced three fumbles and been the catalyst for one of the league’s best defenses. With all the QB controversies on offense, Smith keeps the defense chugging along.
7. Green Bay Packers: QB Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers played his best game of the season against Minnesota, and in the process the Packers are now back in control of the NFC North. Even with all the turmoil, Rodgers has managed to keep his team right where they wanted to be.
8. Chicago Bears: QB Jay Cutler
Without Cutler, the Bears are 0-2, and with him they are 8-2. Not much more to be said here. He can stretch the defense and make plays no one else could in that cold Chicago air.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers: RB Jonathan Dwyer
Dwyer has taken the starting job away from Rashard Mendenhall, and done so by holding on to the ball and not going down after contact. There’s an argument for Ben Roethlisberger here, but Dwyer helped prove this team can win without its star QB.
10. Cincinnati Bengals: WR A.J. Green
Ten touchdowns and a bunch of targets this year for Green, the league’s most productive receiver. Other than Calvin Johnson, there isn’t a receiver that a QB depends on more. He keeps the chains moving and is also the big-play threat down the field to a team now contending in the wild-card hunt.
11. New York Giants: QB Eli Manning
The Giants will live and die on Manning and their defensive line. Manning has a chance to lead the Giants back to the postseason outright in the NFC East, and tonight’s game against Washington will prove where Manning is mentally right now.
12. Indianapolis Colts: QB Andrew Luck
NFL Network's Adam Rank thinks Luck is a true MVP candidate for the entire league.
Wow, Andy Luck should be your 2012 NFL MVP. But as a rookie, he's going to be overlooked just as Mike Trout was. #fact— Adam Rank (@adamrank) December 2, 2012
With eight wins, Luck has the Colts looking at a playoff berth. Should they win a playoff game, is he your league MVP?
13. Seattle Seahawks: RB Marshawn Lynch
Richard Sherman and this secondary have a case here, but Lynch has quietly had a 1,000 yard season and taken pressure off of a rookie QB in Russell Wilson. The beast from the West has been consistent all season.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Josh Freeman
Many around the league feel Freeman is finally coming into his own. If not for Atlanta and New Orleans, the Bucs might be in position for a higher seed in the NFC playoff picture than the wild-card spot they’re currently chasing.
15. Washington Redskins: QB Robert Griffin III
RG3 is the man in Washington, and the man throughout the league as well. His ability to both throw the ball accurately down the field and keep the defense honest with designed (and not designed) QB runs.
16. Minnesota Vikings: RB Adrian Peterson
AD is back with a vengeance. If not for Peyton Manning’s resurgence, he would be the best player in the league right now—bar none. Peterson is leading the league in rushing yards and plays over 20 yards.
17. New Orleans Saints: QB Drew Brees
The NFL’s passing leader is now 5-7, and the Saints won’t be able to make this season worth anything after a tough loss to Atlanta on Thursday night. Still, the Saints are a good team because of what Brees brings to the table. It could be argued that there is no team that needs a player more than New Orleans needs Brees.
18. St. Louis Rams: DBs Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins
Jeff Fisher helped bring Finnegan to St. Louis, and draft pick Jenkins was a high-risk selection. Both were on display in the win against San Francisco, and will be a fixture for the team when they come out as a true dark horse for next season.
19. Dallas Cowboys: WR Dez Bryant
Bryant has come into his own this season. He had two more touchdowns against Philadelphia on Sunday night, and forms a formidable tandem with Tony Romo. The bone-head plays are still there, but Bryant is starting to figure it out. When he does—look out NFL.
20. Detroit Lions: WR Calvin Johnson
The real CJ2K won’t get there this season after a slow start, but Sunday’s game against Indianapolis helped prove he’s still the most elite receiver in the game, and the MVP of the team.
21. Buffalo Bills: RB C.J. Spiller
If Fred Jackson ever gives way to Spiller full time, we could be looking at the next elite running back in the NFL. Spiller gets yards after contact and has elite speed—remind you of anyone else on this list?
22. Miami Dolphins: QB Ryan Tannehill
No one expected Tannehill to be the player he is in year one. He’s led the team to five wins—five more than I thought he would win. He’s still the fourth-best rookie QB this year, but there is talent there that warranted his selection at No. 8 overall.
23. San Diego Chargers: P Mike Scifres
Things can’t get much lower in San Diego. The punter is the MVP after averaging the second-best net on his kicks this year. See ya, Norv.
24. New York Jets: ???
Greg McElroy got the nod in the third and proceeded to score a touchdown, scratch that, a game-winning touchdown against Arizona. Who is the MVP for this team? I have no clue. Each week it seems to be another guy steps up to either win or lose the game for Rex Ryan.
25. Tennessee Titans: RB Chris Johnson
Johnson took all the criticism for the team’s slow start, but after finding a few holes in the defense in Week 5 against the Houston Texans, Johnson has been a new man. If he can find this rhythm early on next season, it could lead to a resurgence for the 2013 season.
26. Philadelphia Eagles: QB Michael Vick
It’s a hard sell, and Nick Foles has shown really nice flashes. But Vick still gives this team a better chance to win and while the rest of the supporting cast has underperformed, Vick was running for his life most of the year.
27. Carolina Panthers: LB Luke Kuechly
Kuechly is in the league-leaders in tackles, and has really been the Sean Lee for the Panthers during his first season. He’ll be a fixture at the position for years to come.
28. Cleveland Browns: LT Joe Thomas
Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden had their moments, and Richardson is going to be a quality running back. But this season, Thomas once again opened up holes for the running game and protected a rookie for most of the year. He’s one of the best at his position.
29. Arizona Cardinals: WR Larry Fitzgerald
Despite having three QBs this season, Fitzgerald has still been productive when the offensive line comes through up front. He’ll be praying for Matt Barkley or Geno Smith in the NFL Draft next season.
30. Oakland Raiders: QB Carson Palmer
Don’t look now, but Carson Palmer is in the top 10 of the NFL passing yardage leaders. He’s likely just riding his career out and hiding behind an Oakland team that isn’t ready to compete with the elite.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Cecil Shorts
After signing Laurent Robinson and drafting Justin Blackmon, how many people knew this guy’s name when the season started? Now, he’s the most consistent receiver on the team and solely responsible for at least one of the two team wins.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: RB Jamaal Charles
Kansas City needs a QB. They have a good RB in Charles, who is approaching 1,000 yards after a slow start to the season. He’s not elite by any stretch, but a true passing game will help make him a matchup nightmare.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.
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