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Ranking the 10 Most Likely Super Bowl MVPs

Ty SchalterNFL National Lead WriterJanuary 28, 2013

Ranking the 10 Most Likely Super Bowl MVPs

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    There will be two trophies awarded once Super Bowl XLVII is over: the Vince Lombardi Trophy, given to the winning team, and the Pete Rozelle Trophy, given to the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player.

    The first trophy is the one the whole NFL season is played for, but the second one is more interesting.

    The list of men who've won the award is a fascinating look into NFL history. Many are legendary quarterbacks, great kings of the game like Bart Starr and Joe Montana.

    But for others, their Pete Rozelle Trophy is the greatest—or even only—individual award. Players like Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Dexter Jackson and former Dallas Cowboys cornerback Larry Brown don't have any other major NFL trophies on their mantle.

    Who will it be this season? The usual—the winning quarterback? Will it be one of either team's powerful tailbacks, hard-hitting defenders or athletic receivers? Or, might it even be a specialist?

    Keep reading to find out who the 10 most likely candidates to win the MVP of Super Bowl XLVII are (ordered from least likely to most likely).

10. Vernon Davis

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    49ers tight end Vernon Davis might have a good case for MVP of the NFC Championship Game; his five catches for 106 yards and a touchdown were a huge factor in the 49ers' victory over the Falcons.

    The Baltimore Ravens defense, though, is stingy against tight ends. Per Chet Gresham of The Fake Football, the Ravens have allowed only two touchdowns to enemy tight ends all season long.

    Davis is the kind of player who can take over a game—but he'll have to truly have the game of his life to take MVP honors.

9. Randy Moss

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    Randy Moss isn't the player he used to be.

    He's not the electrifying, game-breaking deep threat who could seemingly score at will. He's also not the temperamental, sulking quote machine for whom a lack of "will" was always his toughest opponent.

    For Moss to come out of retirement at age 35 speaks volumes about how driven he is to win a championship. Does he have one more jaw-dropping game left in his peerlessly talented bones?

    Maybe.

8. Jacoby Jones

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    A returner has won the Super Bowl MVP award only once: Desmond Howard got the nod for the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXI.

    Jones led the NFL with a 30.7 kickoff return average and two touchdowns, plus another punt-return touchdown.

    Jones, though, is more than this seasons's First-Team All-Pro kick returner: he's a dangerous slot receiver. His 70-yard touchdown against the Broncos in the divisional round of the playoffs served notice to 49ers nickel corner Carlos Rogers.

    If Jones repeats the feat in the Super Bowl, look out.

7. Ed Reed

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    Defensive players don't win the Super Bowl MVP all that often. But when they do—like Super Bowl XXVII's MVP, Tampa Bay Buccaneers free safety Dexter Jackson—they tend to be defensive players who make huge plays and score touchdowns.

    It just so happens that huge plays and touchdowns are Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed's calling card. Reed is the only player in NFL history to take an interception, fumble, punt and blocked punt all the way back to the house.

    Per Pro Football Reference, Reed has 13 career regular-season return touchdown notches on his belt, plus one in the 2008 playoffs against Miami. Reed's latest pick-six, against the Bengals in this season's opening game, made him the NFL's career interception-return yardage leader.

    If any defender's going to score, it's going to be Reed.

6. Ray Rice

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    Besides quarterbacks, nobody touches the ball as often as running backs. Ray Rice, the longtime Ravens workhorse, should get plenty of touches in Super Bowl XLVII.

    The 49ers tied with the Steelers for the third-stingiest run defense in the NFL this season, allowing an average of just 3.7 yards per carry. But the Denver Broncos were the second-stingiest, allowing 3.6 yards per average carry, and Rice shredded them for 131 yards and a score.

5. Frank Gore

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    When the 49ers gave the Green Bay Packers a big dose of the zone-read run play in the divisional round, the Packers attacked Frank Gore and let quarterback Colin Kaepernick gash them with keepers.

    When the Falcons stayed home to stop Kaepernick, Gore racked up 90 yards and two touchdowns. But that pales in comparison to Kaepernick's 181-yard, two-touchdown outburst against the Packers. Expect the Ravens to follow suit, preferring Gore to beat them slowly rather than Kaepernick kill them quickly.

    The Ravens are allowed just 4.0 yards per carry in the regular season, tied for seventh-best in the NFL. If the zone read can neutralize that rushing defense, Gore could easily have another multi-touchdown day—making his odds for MVP honors good.

4. Michael Crabtree

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    It seems like forever ago that Michael Crabtree was an enigmatic rookie, holding out for a contract based on where talking heads projected he'd be drafted rather than the slot he actually was.

    He didn't immediately wash the bad taste of his first impression out with on-field performance, either; Crabtree snagged only two touchdowns in his first season and barely caught more balls for more yards in his first full season (55 catches, 741 yards) than in his holdout-shortened rookie year (48 for 625).

    But Crabtree has gradually become one of the most productive receivers in the NFL, catching 85 passes for 1,105 and nine touchdowns in the regular season, plus 15 catches for 176 yards and two scores in the 49ers' two playoff games.

    If Crabtree has another game like he had against the Packers, the 49ers will be hard to stop—and Crabtree will be hard to vote against.

3. Joe Flacco

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    Quarterbacks touch the ball more than any other player, and they have the best chance to make the biggest plays of the game.

    Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has been making those plays all postseason, throwing four fourth-quarter touchdown passes in the Ravens' three playoff games. If Super Bowl XLVII is decided by late fireworks, Flacco has a great chance to set them off.

2. Colin Kaepernick

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    Out of 46 Super Bowls, the MVP's been awarded to the winning quarterback 25 times. The 49ers are four-point favorites, per Bovada at the time of this writing; it follows that they have Kaepernick as an 8-5 MVP favorite.

    But Kaepernick isn't the favorite just because he's the better team's signal-caller. During the playoffs, he's elevated his play to incredible heights.

    Now that 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman has incorporated more of the Pistol formation and zone-read plays Kaepernick made deadly at the University of Nevada, defenses are scrambling to solve both the scheme and the player.

    Even if the Ravens slow down Kaepernick, if the 49ers win, Kaepernick will still be a big part of their success.

1. Ray Lewis

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    If the Ravens win, so will Ray Lewis.

    Unless Lewis goes turncoat and starts blocking his teammates in the middle of the game, the retiring emotional center of the Ravens will be the prohibitive favorite. He was named Super Bowl MVP over Ravens quarterback Trent Dilfer in Super Bowl XXXV; the same would likely happen over Joe Flacco this time around.

    Lewis could even win MVP if the Ravens lose, given an especially heroic performance. It wouldn't be unprecedented; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Chuck Howley was named MVP of Super Bowl V despite losing to Baltimore...the Baltimore Colts, that is.

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