Today's list is the conclusion of a two part series that dissects the top ten NFL Most Valuable Player candidates and their chances of taking home the trophy.
Yesterday, the focus was on the popular, perennial favorites that, while their numbers are good, aren't necessarily the most crucial aspect to their respective team's success.
Today, the spotlight is turned on the top five players who, at this point of the season, have the most realistic shot at nabbing the award.
And now, here's the rest who, incidentally, are the best.
Even during their disastrous 0-6 start, the Tennessee Titans could rely on Chris Johnson to run roughshod over just about any defense.
However, now that they're in the midst of a three-game winning streak, his name has entered the fringes of the MVP discussion.
Frankly, his case for the award will only be valid if Tennessee continues its new-found winning ways. But with the way the rest of the team has come together to gel around him as of late, his chances look better and better.
He may not get the attention of an Adrian Peterson or a Chris Johnson, but Maurice Jones-Drew's inspired running has essentially carried the Jacksonville Jaguars this season.
He's a consistent, yardage-eating machine on an otherwise inconsistent team.
It's true that there are flashier running backs who play on better teams.
But Jacksonville would be a disaster without him.
The fact that he alone has kept them in contention puts him in the top five.
If the Jaguars can avoid the "one step forward, two steps back" routine and make the playoffs, he has a good shot to elevate his status from sleeper to favorite.
For the first time in eons, the Pittsburgh Steelers are a pass happy team.
Granted, no one's going to confuse them with the 1998 Minnesota Vikings, but comparatively speaking, they're treading on new ground.
And doing a darn good job at it.
This is thanks in no small part to the heady play of Ben Roethlisberger, who began his career as a game manager. Nowadays, he's pretty much a gunslinger, with the statistics to boot.
His Steelers have avoided a Super Bowl hangover, and once again are in the thick of the playoff race in spite of a wobbly rushing attack and an injury plagued secondary.
Take Roethlisberger out of the equation, and Pittsburgh is in trouble.
Unlike a lot of other candidates, Brett Favre's inclusion in the MVP discussion is perhaps the most obvious.
The gray areas are few and far between; his presence and play have instantly transformed a mediocre team into championship contenders.
And the funny thing is, he's doing it in a most convincing, dominating fashion.
At best, most folks had him going for 3,000 yards and 15 touchdowns this year. So long as he played with poise and eschewed his old mistake-prone, gun-slinging ways, things would work out for the Minnesota Vikings.
However, he's racking up the numbers while his team racks up the wins.
The fact that the Vikings play in a dome should pay exponential dividends as the season drags on, given that he has a recent history of production drop offs in December and January.
If the Vikings keep winning—and he gets a little help from number one on this list—he could bring home the award once again.
The stars on this list are obviously of a huge value to their respective teams. Peyton Manning, however, is priceless.
We all know about his talent and the subsequent gaudy statistics.
But it's hard to argue that no team would be more lost than the Indianapolis Colts, if Manning were to go down with injury.
Not only is he supremely talented as a player, but he's essentially an on-the-field coach. Offensive coordinator Tom Moore, himself a legend, has said that he isn't so much a play caller as he is a "suggester" for Manning.
It'd be one thing if he were crafty in lieu of top-level talent.
It'd be another if he were a bit pedestrian in his strategy but was superbly athletic.
But for Manning to possess both gifts is almost unfair.
There's still a lot of football yet to be played, but at this point the award is his to lose.