For much of the year, it's seemed pretty obvious who the front-runner for the NFL's MVP award was. As you might have guessed, little has changed in that regard.
At this point, Vegas feels pretty strongly that Peyton Manning will win this year's MVP award, surprising absolutely no one. Here are the current odds, via Bovada:
|Any Other Player||+700|
Talk about an anticlimactic MVP race.
Of course, it's hard to argue with Manning as the clear front-runner. He's led the Broncos to an 11-3 record, throwing for 4,811 yards, 47 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. He's on pace to smash Tom Brady's record of 50 touchdown passes in a season from 2007 and lead the Denver Broncos to the top seed in the AFC playoffs should they win their final two games.
But were there to be a surprising turn in the race, what other players would warrant consideration for the MVP award?
Let's break down a few players with a strong case this season.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs have been a pleasant surprise at 11-3 this season, and a huge reason why has been the play of Jamaal Charles.
Charles is fourth in the NFL with 1,118 rushing yards, is tied for first in rushing touchdowns (11), is sixth in yards per carry (4.8), is first among running backs with 655 receiving yards (on 65 receptions) and has added seven receiving touchdowns.
It's very possible he'll finish the season with over 2,000 yards from scrimmage and at least 20 touchdowns, an absolutely huge season. He probably won't surpass Manning, but if anyone does he's the most likely candidate.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
If you were only looking at stats, it would be harder to make a case for Russell Wilson. His 3,077 passing yards are 17th in the NFL. His 24 touchdowns versus just eight interceptions are impressive but don't jump out as MVP-worthy.
Yes, his 105.0 passer rating is pristine, and his 508 rushing yards paint a broader brush of his value, but it goes well beyond the numbers with Wilson.
Along with leading the Seahawks to the NFL's best record at 12-2, Wilson just always seems to come up with a big play at a big moment. His ability to run makes him versatile. His composure makes him a steady leader. The Seahawks have a talented roster, but Wilson is the key figure.
He won't win the MVP award this year, but don't be surprised when he does in the years to come.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
Shady, as he's affectionately called, hasn't just been one of the most dangerous weapons in the NFL this season, he's also just darn fun to watch in action.
McCoy leads the NFL in rushing yards (1,343), is third amongst running backs in yards per attempt (5.0), has rushed for seven touchdowns and has added an impressive 507 receiving yards on 45 receptions (and another score).
The lack of touchdowns keeps him below Charles on the MVP watch list, but his impressive yards from scrimmage aren't to be ignored. He's been the perfect fit for Chip Kelly's offense and has been a huge reason why the Eagles are a surprising 8-6 and in control of their own destiny in the NFC East.
The stats aren't there for Tom Brady, but the sole reason the New England Patriots are 10-4 this season is the solid play of their quarterback. While key players like Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, Shane Vereen, Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo have all missed significant time this season, Brady has kept the Patriots amongst the AFC's elite.
Who deserves to be the NFL's MVP?
If Nick Foles had been the Eagles starter from day one, he might have given Manning a run for his money. Foles is 6-2 as a starter, has thrown for 23 touchdowns to just two interceptions and has an absurd 117.0 passer rating. The Eagles weren't supposed to compete for a playoff spot this year, but Foles changed that notion rather quickly.
Drew Brees hasn't gotten a ton of attention in MVP talk, but he's second in passing yards (4,500), second in passing touchdowns (34), like Manning has thrown just 10 interceptions and has led the New Orleans Saints to a 10-4 record.
Finally, Brees' teammate, Jimmy Graham, is having an absurd season. His 1,071 receiving yards are first amongst tight ends and 14th in the NFL overall. His 14 touchdown receptions lead all players. His 76 receptions are first amongst tight ends and 12th overall.
His production has tapered off a bit down the stretch—battling with injuries hasn't helped—but there isn't a receiving threat more valuable than Graham this year.
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