NFL MVP 2013: Power Ranking Candidates for Football's Most Prestigious Award

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJanuary 8, 2013

Oct 7, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) shakes hands with Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) following the game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Broncos 31-21. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

While the NFL is full of athletes that are indispensable on their teams, only one can be named the league's Most Valuable Player.

This year's race might be the closest battle this award has had in years. It features a number of players on playoff teams and they would change the entire league if they were removed from the equation.

In other years, any of these five players would be deserving of the MVP award. However, this is how things should play out this season.


5. J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans

Defensive players do not often get credit for being among the league's most valuable, but the Texans would definitely be in trouble without J.J. Watt.

He led the NFL in sacks, only two short of the record set by Michael Strahan. However, he affected the game much more than that.

Watt's 81 tackles are extremely impressive considering he has to take on blockers on the defensive line. It was easily the most by anyone in his position.

The same goes for his 16 passes deflected, which is usually a stat for defensive backs. The second-year player has a unique ability to knock passes down at the line and it prevents the quarterback from being successful.

Although he does not touch the ball as often as a quarterback, Watt has as much of an impact on the game as anyone on his team and should be under consideration for the most valuable in the league.


4. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

Unlike past years, Tom Brady actually had help this season. 

After BenJarvus Green-Ellis led the team with only 667 rushing yards a year ago, Stevan Ridley had a breakout season. He ended up finishing seventh in the NFL with 1,263 rushing yards and was third with 12 touchdowns.

In addition, New England surprisingly finished in the top 10 in the league in scoring defense. 

Brady still had an outstanding year, but his numbers were down in yards, touchdowns, completion percentage and quarterback rating despite throwing more passes than last season. 

His three multi-interception games also show that he struggled at times this year.

There are few, if any, quarterbacks better than Brady in the world, but he does not stack up this year in total value.


3. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers will continue to succeed regardless of who is around him. 

Surrounded by injuries at running back and wide receiver, the Packers quarterback put together another great season and ended up leading the NFL in quarterback rating.

When Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson missed time, Rodgers found James Jones and Randall Cobb consistently instead. Seven different receiving targets caught multiple touchdowns this year as the quarterback proved he does not need a go-to player to succeed.

Amazingly, he also tied for the team lead with two rushing touchdowns.

The only thing holding him back is his extraordinary competition and possibly the fact that his team was unable to secure a first-round bye after posting a 15-1 record a year ago.


2. Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos

The biggest thing that promotes Peyton Manning's MVP run is the comparison of his teams with and without him.

Last season, the Indianapolis Colts went 2-14 in the first year without Manning. While this should not count toward this year's award, it will definitely be in the back of voters' minds.

This year, he was able to lead an 8-8 team to a 13-3 record as the best team in the AFC. The offense went from No. 25 in the league in points last year to No. 2 this year. 

Individually, he rated as having the best QBR in the NFL at 84.1, which measures everything a quarterback does to help his team win. 

The problem with Manning winning this award is the fact that his entire team has been great this year.

Denver's defense is second in the league in yards against and scored six touchdowns off interceptions and fumbles. Trindon Holliday added two more touchdowns as a returner. Demaryius Thomas finished fifth in the league in yards after catch, which helped boost the quarterback's numbers.

Manning had an MVP-level season, but his overall package is not good enough to win.


1. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings

There has not been a non-quarterback MVP since LaDainian Tomlinson won the award in 2006. However, it is time to change that trend.

Adrian Peterson was not only the best running back in football this season, he was the best by a very large margin.

He rushed for 2,097, the second most of all time and only eight yards away from Eric Dickerson's record. Next on the list was Alfred Morris, who was almost 500 yards behind Peterson for the league lead.

It is also important to note how well he ended, as his average of 165 rushing yards per game helped the team finish strong and reach the playoffs.

The team success is important to note, because the running back had very little help around him. Minnesota finished second to last in the league in passing yards behind Christian Ponder and his 21st-best quarterback rating.

On defense, the Vikings only finished tied for No. 14 in points allowed per game. This is the lowest mark of any candidate on this list.

Without Peterson on the team, it would be tough to imagine Minnesota winning more than a few games.

This makes him the most valuable player in the league and he should take home the award at the end of this season. 



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