Hoisting the Hardware: Ranking the 10 Most Likely Candidates for NFL MVP
In the NFL, you never know who is going to break through or who will falter. Stars are made and born each Sunday on the gridiron with flashy plays or stunning performances.
The course of a season is a long test that separates the one-timers and the Peyton Mannings of the NFL. A Kevin Boss could have a sensational week then suddenly go quiet for eight weeks. You just never know.
But we do know that there will always be a competitive race for the league Most Valuable Player award.
Last season, division rivals Chris Johnson and Peyton Manning, along with Brett Favre, battled for the MVP award before Manning was given his fourth title.
Here is a preview of who just might be in the MVP race for 2010. Some names will be obvious, yet some may keep you on your toes during your fantasy draft.
10. Maurice Jones-Drew
Cracking the list at No. 10 is the underrated Maurice Jones-Drew.
Finally the feature back in Jacksonville, MJD performed incredibly, carrying for 1,391 yards last season, averaging 4.5 yards per carry and scoring 15 touchdowns, which always look good on the MVP resume.
Expect his 2010 stats to improve even more while he becomes a household name. A young offensive line in 2009 should improve with experience and new addition Justin Smiley, giving an even larger boost to Jones-Drew.
He may fly under the radar a bit, but Maurice Jones-Drew will be a legitimate MVP contender throught 2010 and beyond.
9. Brett Favre
Yes, the picture is of Favre as a Packer, taken famously during Green Bay's Super Bowl victory after a touchdown pass. As an avid Packer fan, it was tough for me to put No.4 on the list, so I had to force myself to recall a good memory to allow him to stay.
That said, Favre had what some called a rebirth in 2009 (I'm not going to argue, but look at his 2007 stats;no rebirth here). 4,202 yards, 33 touchdowns, and only seven interceptions showed that he could still sling the ball around the field.
But, coming off of ankle surgery, it will be difficult for Favre to repeat those numbers in 2010. If he does, we may never see him on his tractor in Mississippi on a Sunday in November again.
8. Tony Romo
With the addition of wide receiver Dez Bryant and the emerging star in Miles Austin, Romo has a gallery of weapons to choose from.
He took a step by winning the Cowboys' first playoff game since 1996 and passed for 4,483 yards last season and only throwing nine interceptions. It looks like Romo is finally reaching his MVP potential that he first showed.
7. Matt Schaub
Remember when Matt Schaub was stuck as backup in Atlanta, starting only two games over three seasons?
Just three seasons later, the Houston captain has emerged as one of the NFL's best passers on an up-and-coming team. Last season, the Pro Bowler led the NFL in passing yards with 4,770.
Now with Andre Johnson poised for another superb season and running back Steve Slaton solidifying the run game, he could find himself among the leading vote getters for MVP.
6. Adrian Peterson
The debate is young: Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson?
Neither running backs has played more than three NFL seasons, adding to the hype over the dual No. 28's.
Peterson slowed down a bit in 2009 after a 2008 that left him all over the leader boards, though he still led the NFL in rushing touchdowns with 18. In three seasons, he has rushed for 4,484 yards in only three seasons.
His 6'2'', 217 lb. frame allows him to take the beating of an NFL running back, playing in every game over the last two seasons. AP's downhill style of plowing through defenders uses every pound he has and his health is important.
If Peterson can limit the fumbles (16 over two seasons) and the Vikings win, he may receive his first of many MVP awards.
5. Tom Brady
Coming off a season-ending injury in 2008, Brady passed for over 4,000 yards for the third time in his career, taking New England to the Playoffs.
He showed he is back and healthy. His repaired leg held up strong all season long and is expected to do so again in 2010.
We should expect a +4,000 yard season from Brady and hopefully over 30 TD's. Much of this hinges on Wes Welker, returning from injury. Brady's completion percentage rises drastically with Welker on the field.
4. Aaron Rodgers
Remember when the most talk we heard of the Green Bay quarterback was his goofy mustache, awkward mullet, or Brett Favre comparisons?
Well, we don't hear those talks anymore.
In two seasons as starter in the post-Favre era, two seasons with over 4,000 passing yards. He doesn't turn it over either, leading the NFL in INT% and completing 64.7 percent of his passes. Rodgers also led all QB's in rushing yards. He can beat you in multiple ways.
Fans in Wisconsin have already forgotten the past and are focused on Rodgers leading the Pack to the Super Bowl. Now in his third year starting and with tight end Jermichael Finley becoming a serious threat, A-Rod could very well be the MVP on a high-octane Green Bay offense.
3. Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson isn't shy about speaking his mind. He has said he wants to make more money (check), be on the cover of Madden (no check), be the face of the NFL (half-check), and be the best running back ever (no check...yet).
If he continues at his current rate, all of those items will be accomplished by the end of his career.
He became only the sixth back in history to rush for over 2,000 yards and racked up the most yards from scrimmage in NFL history. How's that for a second season?
He says he is faster, if that's even possible, and that he wants to challenge Eric Dickerson's record for most rushing yards in a season.
2. Peyton Manning
Four-time MVP. Super Bowl champion. 10 4,000 yard passing seasons.
1. Drew Brees
Many argued that Drew Brees, not Manning, should have been last season's MVP. Coming off of a 5,000 yard passing season, Brees amounted 4,388 yards and led the league with 34 TD's, 109.6 passer rating, and 70.6 completion percentage.
The only knock on Brees may be a Super Bowl hangover, but the fiery team leader will unlikely allow that to happen.
Coming into 2010 off of four incredible seasons, Brees is the favorite for MVP award.