2013 NFL MVP Race: Ranking the Top 5 Candidates for Week 17

Jasper SchererAnalyst IIDecember 26, 2013

2013 NFL MVP Race: Ranking the Top 5 Candidates for Week 17

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    The discussion for the NFL MVP Award generally heats up right around now, but this year, not much discussion is necessary.

    Peyton Manning is running away with the award, and there isn't much anyone can do about it.

    The Denver Broncos quarterback already owns the single-season touchdown passing record thanks to his four TD passes in Week 16, and most importantly, his team is on the verge of locking up the top seed in the AFC.

    In addition to the presumptive MVP, I'll also take a look at those who would be in contention for the 2013 NFL MVP Award if Manning wasn't being so...Manning-like.

Honorable Mentions

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    Cam Newton

    The Panthers defense has bailed Newton out on numerous occasions, and his statistics don't quite match up to those of the other candidates.

    However, Newton has helped his team make an incredible run to contest for a first-round bye in the NFC. There is no debating Newton is valuable to the Panthers, but the defense has been so key to the team’s success that it’s hard to seriously consider Newton for the MVP Award.

    Drew Brees

    Brees’ candidacy took a hit with the New Orleans Saints’ loss to the St. Louis Rams in Week 15, and they flew out the window completely when New Orleans fell to the Panthers the following week.

    Nevertheless, the statistics are there again for Brees. He needs to 219 yards in Week 17 to reach 5,000 yards for the fourth time in his career, and he is sixth in the NFL in passer rating.

    But Brees' lackluster play of late and the Saints defense providing so much help mean that the MVP Award is out of his reach.

    LeSean McCoy

    McCoy is the second-most valuable running back this year, but he is not even the most valuable player on his team. McCoy's statistics are very impressive, but they are more a product of several big weeks instead of consistent production week in and week out. He has failed to reach 80 rushing yards nine times this year, which isn't quite what the MVP voters are looking for.

    McCoy would be in the running for Offensive Player of the Year in Peyton Manning’s absence, but he is not a serious MVP candidate. That should not take away from how much he has contributed to the Philadelphia Eagles’ late-season surge, however.

5. Tom Brady

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    Brady’s MVP chances didn’t improve much in Week 16, as the New England Patriots blew out the Baltimore Ravens primarily because of their defensive dominance. The New England quarterback's MVP stock has dropped dramatically since the Patriots lost to the Miami Dolphins in Week 15, but that doesn’t mean his accomplishments this season should be ignored.

    There is no debating that the Patriots would be in trouble without Brady’s heroics. For the majority of the season, he has almost single-handedly won games, leading the team to gritty, come-from-behind victories over top teams like the Broncos and Saints.

    While Brady is officially out of the MVP running (along with just about everyone else), his performance this year has nevertheless been impressive.

4. Nick Foles

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    It’s hard to argue with the results, as the Eagles are 8-2 since Foles took over behind center. A streak of 19 touchdown passes without an interception, the NFL’s top passer rating and remarkable consistency (a passer rating over 100 in all but two starts) give Foles a spot among the MVP contenders.

    LeSean McCoy has certainly played a role in the Eagles’ success as well, but he isn’t consistent enough to earn a spot on the list. He broke out a few times for huge weeks, but also had lackluster performances on several occasions. In those off weeks, Foles carried the load.

    There’s certainly an argument for placing Foles higher on the list, yet his team is not even guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. (They must win in Week 17.) Even so, the Eagles’ turnaround, thanks to Foles, has been remarkable.

3. Russell Wilson

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    Wilson has struggled recently, and his Week 16 performance was, arguably, his worst game this season. However, while there’s no doubt that the Seahawks defense has played a large role in the team’s success in 2013, Wilson has been equally as valuable to the team.

    Most importantly, Wilson is consistent. He has faltered as of late, but still he has eclipsed a passer rating of 90 nine times, while surpassing 115 seven times. He is the only quarterback in the NFL to reach the latter benchmark that often this season.

    In addition to his impressive numbers, Wilson has helped lead his team to a 12-3 record. A win in Week 17 would give Seattle the NFC’s top seed, and thus home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

    Any quarterback of a conference’s top seed is worthy of MVP consideration, especially if he has a season like Wilson’s.

2. Jamaal Charles

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    Finding the end zone is the name of the game, and that's all Charles seems to do this season. He leads all players in touchdowns scored, with 19, and he needs just 20 yards to reach 2,000 yards from scrimmage this season.

    Most importantly, Charles has done the majority of the heavy lifting for the 11-4 Kansas City Chiefs. Without Charles' heroics, there is no doubt that Kansas City would not be in their current position. He is unquestionably the team's most dangerous offensive weapon, as he leads the team in rushing and receiving yards.

    It's just bad luck for Charles that his breakout season is coming at the same time that Peyton Manning is compiling the greatest single season in NFL history.

1. Peyton Manning

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    There isn’t much debate at this point regarding Manning’s candidacy for the MVP Award. The Broncos quarterback has already set the single-season record for touchdown passes, and he’s on track to break the passing-yards record as well.

    On top of that, he’s led his team to a 12-3 record despite a suspect Broncos defense. A win in Week 17 would give Denver the AFC’s first seed, and further ensure that Manning will win the award. 

    The only question that remains at this point is, Will Peyton be the unanimous winner?

    He certainly has my vote.