There are 32 teams in the NFL, and each club has its own most valuable player.
But a few stand out more than others as they are critical to their team's success, and these players deserve to be considered for the NFL MVP award.
Without them, their teams would go from playoff contenders to cellar-dwellers. Now is the time for these players to continue playing like MVPs in order to help their teams reach their goals with the regular season drawing to a close.
Here is a look three players in the running for MVP and why they'll have big performances this weekend.
Kansas City Chiefs Running Back Jamaal Charles
The Chiefs have gone from a 2-12 team in 2012 to already having 11 wins in 2013.
The one thing that has been consistent the entire year for Kansas City has been Jamaal Charles, who was just named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday.
This, after gashing the Oakland Raiders for 215 all-purpose yards and five total touchdowns.
He's having a career year, rushing for 1,181 yards and catching 65 passes for 655 yards while scoring 18 total touchdowns. Charles deserves to be the NFL MVP, and Chiefs head coach Andy Reid agrees.
“He’s obviously very valuable to this team," Reid said. "I appreciate, probably the most, how he comes to work every day and the attitude he brings. He wants to get better every day. He demands a lot out of himself.
Again, he’s a preparation guy; he goes through a certain routine every day that would probably drive half of us crazy to get done, but he does it religiously, every day and gets himself ready. When he’s out there at practice, he practices his tail off."
He has a great opportunity to make a case for the MVP this Sunday vs. the Indianapolis Colts, who have already won their division and may even face the Chiefs in the playoffs.
If Charles can have a big game against a playoff team like the Colts, he'll boost his MVP stock even more heading into the final week of the regular season.
San Diego Charger Quarterback Philip Rivers
Another player from the AFC West is leading his team from the cellar in 2012 to playoff contention in 2013, and that's San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.
After looking washed up last year, new Chargers Head Coach Mike McCoy was confident that Rivers was still an elite NFL QB, and he's been rewarded for his faith.
The 10th-year signal-caller has thrown for 4,048 yards and 29 touchdowns to just nine interceptions, and last week, he helped lead his team to an upset win over the Denver Broncos to keep the 7-7 Chargers' slim playoff hopes alive:
"We knew nobody gave us a chance, and nobody should have given us a chance either if you were outside of our locker room," Rivers said via NFL.com. "But we came in with a lot of confidence. "We had won five of the last seven here. We said let's go play our best game and get another one and stay alive. Let's stay alive and see what happens."
Staying alive is exactly what the Chargers are doing, and while they may not make it to the playoffs, it won't be because Rivers didn't play like an MVP.
He should boost his MVP stock by having a big performance this week against the Oakland Raiders, who have allowed an average QB rating of 103.5, the worst rating of any NFL team.
Philadelphia Eagles Running Back LeSean McCoy
No one thought the Eagles would contend for the NFC East division after a 4-12 season in 2012, but the resurgence of LeSean McCoy has propelled the Eagles to the top of the division with two games remaining.
After battling injuries in 2012, McCoy has been one of the best players in the NFL this year, and he's deserving of consideration for the NFL MVP award.
He's accounted for 1,850 all-purpose yards (1,343 rushing and 507 receiving), and the Eagles offense has lived and died by him.
All but one of the Eagles' seven losses came when he rushed for 100 or fewer yards.
When he's producing, the Eagles are winning, and against a Chicago Bears defense among the NFL's worst at defending the run, McCoy has a great opportunity to boost his chances of winning the MVP this Sunday in the spotlight on Sunday Night Football.