NFL MVP 2012-13: Underrated Candidates That Deserve Consideration

Alex BallentineFeatured ColumnistFebruary 1, 2013

BALTIMORE, MD - JANUARY 06:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts warms up against the Baltimore Ravens during the AFC Wild Card Playoff Game at M&T Bank Stadium on January 6, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The NFL's Most Valuable Player award is one of the most subjective awards in all of sports. This season, the foregone conclusion is that Adrian Peterson should win the award, but looking at the field of serious contenders for the award, there's some serious lack of imagination when it comes to who should be considered. 

By the end of the regular season, it came down to a three-man race—Adrian Peterson, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning appear to be the only three with a real shot at winning the award. 

All things considered, Peterson really should win the award. He's the player who had the greatest impact on his team. He single-handedly led his team to the playoffs, and all the reasons he should win are detailed here.

However, it can be debated whether or not Manning and Brady are the best candidates to challenge Peterson for the honor. A good argument can be made that these three players are more deserving of MVP consideration. 

Andrew Luck

If you are a firm believer in the award going to the player who meant the most to his team, there's a strong argument to be made for Andrew Luck. 

The No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft took over a team that had won two games the previous year and led the team to an incredible nine game turnaround, going 11-5. 

With Luck, it's not just the fact that his team won, it's that he was the reason they won. Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson were part of big turnarounds, but neither was asked to do as much as Luck. Only Tony Romo, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford and Drew Brees had more pass attempts. Of those quarterbacks, only Brady's team won more games. 

The Colts made no huge personnel moves in the offseason and basically fielded the same team that went 2-14. Luck's output in an offense that relied on him to win games with his arm is impressive and worthy of MVP consideration.

J.J. Watt

A defensive player hasn't won the MVP award since Lawrence Taylor took home the honor in 1986, pretty much eliminating any chance that Watt would win the award this season. 

However, an honest look at his numbers and it's hard to argue that he shouldn't be involved in the conversation. 

He led the league in sacks with 20.5 on the season (Taylor registered 20.5 sacks in '86). He had 81 tackles and defended an incredible 16 passes. That's more than or equal to the top cornerback on 23 of the 32 NFL teams.

His Texans may have flamed out in the playoffs, but Houston's defense would not have survived the injury to Brian Cushing if it weren't for the MVP-esque play of Watt all season.

Wes Welker

Every season, Tom Brady is automatically put into the running for MVP. Year after year, he puts up incredible numbers, and the Patriots are among the best teams in the AFC.

This season, he couldn't have done that without Welker.

Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski are key parts of the offense, but they were both in and out of the lineup with injuries. Brandon Lloyd failed to live up to the high hopes placed on him at the beginning of the season, but Welker was a consistent target for Brady all season.

Only Calvin Johnson tallied more than Welker's 118 receptions on the season, and Johnson's Lions were far too awful for him to be a real candidate. The fact that Welker led the league in yards after the catch with 619 yards is proof that his success isn't solely based in Brady's accurate passing.

If you are going to consider Brady an MVP candidate, his No. 1 target has to enter the discussion at some point.