2010 NFL MVP Countdown: Power Ranking The Top 15 Candidates For The Award

Dmitriy Ioselevich@dioselevSenior Analyst IIIJanuary 3, 2011

2010 NFL MVP Countdown: Power Ranking The Top 15 Candidates For The Award

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    FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 02:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks on in the third quarter against the Miami Dolphins on January 2, 2011 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    The 2010-11 football regular season is finally over and that means it's time for voters to fill out their ballots for NFL MVP.

    Several players have had seasons that merit MVP consideration this year, but only one can take home the award.

    Who will it be?

    Here's a final look at the league's 15 most valuable players.

15. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts

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    INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 28: Reggie Wayne #87 of the Indianapolis Colts runs with the ball during the NFL game against the San Diego Chargers at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 28, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Don't give Peyton Manning all of the credit for leading the Colts on a comeback from a 6-6 record to the No. 3 seed in the AFC. Reggie Wayne, Manning's Pro-Bowl receiver, helped quite a bit too.

    For a team that lost top receiving threats Anthony Gonzalez and Dallas Clark, Wayne was a constant force in the Colts' passing attack. He recorded 111 receptions (2nd in the NFL) for 1,355 yards (3rd in the NFL) and six touchdowns, and had seven games with at least 80 yards receiving.

    Wayne was targeted an incredible 173 times this season (3rd in the NFL) and, more often that not, he delivered. He caught 72 passes for a first down (2nd in the NFL) and had 355 yards after the catch. 

14. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

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    BALTIMORE, MD - JANUARY 2:  Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens passes against the Cincinnati Bengals  at M&T Bank Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Bengals 13-6. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
    Larry French/Getty Images

    Flacco was terrific all season long for the 12-4 Ravens. He threw for 3,622 yards and 25 touchdowns, while limiting his mistakes to only 10 interceptions. His 62.6 completion percentage is tied for 10th in the league, while his 93.6 QB rating is seventh. 

    Flacco has established career highs in nearly every offensive category, and he is the main reason why the Ravens are back in the playoffs for the third consecutive season.

13. Arian Foster, Houston Texans

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    HOUSTON - JANUARY 02:  Running back Arian Foster #23 of the Houston Texans rushes for major yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Reliant Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson have been great as usual, but it's the 24-year-old Foster who paces the Texans' high-octane offense.

    He finished the season rushing for an NFL-high 1,616 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also contributed 66 receptions out of the backfield for 604 yards and two touchdowns, earning him his first Pro Bowl selection.

    No other running back in the NFL came close to matching Foster's production, but the Texans had to keep giving him the ball with the way defense was playing all year. 

12. Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers

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    GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 05: Troy Smith #1 of the San Francisco 49ers is tackled by Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on December 5, 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the 49ers 34-16. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Ge
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Packers finished the season 10-6 with a wild card berth, and they have Clay Matthews and his bone-crushing tackles to thank for that.

    The second-year linebacker was an unstoppable force in one of the NFL's top defenses, recording 60 tackles and 13.5 sacks (fourth in the NFL). He also forced two fumbles and intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown earlier in the season.

    Cameron Wake of the Dolphins and Osi Umenyiora of the Giants were just as good as Matthews this year, but only one of these three will be making a playoff apperance. That honor goes to Matthews.

11. Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Matt Cassel #7 of the Kansas City Chiefs throws a pass in a game against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri.  The Raiders won 31-10 (Photo by Tim Umphrey/Getty Im
    Tim Umphrey/Getty Images

    Cassel was great for the 10-6 Chiefs, throwing for 3,116 yards and 27 touchdowns (eighth in the NFL) while only surrendering seven interceptions. Those numbers are good enough to earn the quarterback a 93.0 QB rating that also ranks eighth in the league.

    Cassel would get more votes, but Kansas City has only the 30th ranked passing attack in the NFL (No. 1 ranked rushing offense) and the Chiefs had a remarkably easy schedule. They only faced three teams with winning records (including San Diego twice) and were 2-2 in those games.

10. Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons

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    ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 02:  Michael Turner #33 of the Atlanta Falcons runs upfield during the game against the Carolina Panthers at the Georgia Dome on January 2, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    An argument could be made for putting wide receiver Roddy White (1,389 yards receiving, 10 touchdowns) here, but the Falcons have always been a run-first offense and Turner is undeniably the face of that offense.

    The 13-3 Falcons relied on Turner all season and he answered the call, rushing for 1,371 yards (third in the NFL) and 12 touchdowns (fourth in the NFL). His 334 carries were more than any other running back in the NFL. 

9. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

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    ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 02:  Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons looks upfield to pass during the second half of the game against the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome on December 27, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    From one Falcon to another. Some might say Turner is actually Atlanta's MVP, but the fact remains that Ryan touches the ball more than any player on that team. Plus, he's the quarterback for the No. 1 seed out of the NFC.

    The third-year quarterback completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 3,705 yards (ninth in the NFL) and 28 touchdowns (sixth in the NFL). He was among the most efficient passers in the NFL, throwing only nine interceptions despite 571 pass attempts.

8. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

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    GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers attempts to break free from Tommie Harris #91 of the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on January 2, 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    The 10-6 Packers were playing for their playoff lives the last two weeks and they still managed to beat two very good teams in the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears. Leading the way, as always, was Rodgers.

    You want yardage? Rodgers has thrown for 3,922 of them, good for seventh in the NFL. You want scoring? Rodgers has 32 touchdowns this season, 28 through the air and four on the ground. you want big plays? Rodgers was second in the NFL with 8.26 yards/attempt. You want efficiency? Rodgers' completed 65.7 percent of his passes and sported a 101.2 QB rating.

    Unfortunately for Rodgers, those numbers make him only the sixth best quarterback on this list and eighth overall.

7. Troy Polamalu/James Harrison, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 05:  Troy Polamalu #43 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks from the sidelines while playing against the Baltimore Ravens during the fourth quarter of the game at M&T Bank Stadium on December 5, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by
    Geoff Burke/Getty Images

    It's probably unfair to group Polamalu and Harrison together on this list, especially considering they can't share MVP votes. But the 12-4 Steelers wouldn't be in the playoffs if it wasn't for their defense and that defense has not one face, but two.

    Harrison did most of the dirty work, tallying 100 tackles and 10.5 sacks on the season. He also added two interceptions and six forced fumbles from the linebacker position, acting as the glue for the league's No. 1 ranked rush defense.

    Polamalu, meanwhile, took care of business in the secondary and shutdown opposing receivers. He finished the season with 63 tackles and seven interceptions, including one that he returned for a touchdown.

6. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 19: Maurice Jones-Drew #32 of the Jacksonville Jaguars dives against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts defeated the Jaguars 34-24. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty I
    Scott Boehm/Getty Images

    Jones-Drew would've finished higher on this list if the Jaguars had actually made the playoffs. But sixth place on the MVP countdown isn't a bad consolation prize.

    The Jacksonville running back finished with 1,324 yards rushing (fifth in the NFL) and eight rushing touchdowns. He didn't play in the team's final two games because of a knee injury, but still finished with over 1,600 total yards.

5. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

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    DENVER - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers delivers a pass against the Denver Broncos at INVESCO Field at Mile High on January 2, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Chargers defeated the Broncos 33-28.  (Photo by Doug Pensing
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Not exactly sure how the Chargers missed the playoffs despite having the top ranked defense in the NFL and the second ranked offense. But it doesn't really matter because Philip Rivers was still great.

    The San Diego quarterback was near the top of every major statistical category and for most of the season and was the only reason the Chargers were even in the playoff conversation. He threw for 4,710 yards (first in the NFL), 30 touchdowns (fifth in the NFL) and completed 66.0 percent of his passes (third in the NFL). His 101.8 QB rating was the second highest in the league.

    If only the 9-7 Chargers had beaten Cincinnati last week, we might put Rivers in the top three. 

4. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 02:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints looks to throw a pass during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Louisiana Superdome on January 2, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    It seems like it was just a matter of time before the Saints turned it into high gear and became one of the NFC's best teams once again. The pass-happy Saints finished the year 11-5 and, predictably, Drew Brees led the charge.

    The quarterback passed for 4,620 yards (third in the NFL) and completed a league-leading 68.1 percent of his passes. He also threw for 33 touchdowns, a mark that was tied for second highest in the league. The 22 interceptions are somewhat uncharacteristic for Brees, but at the end of the day all that matters is who won, and Brees certainly did plenty of that.

3. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts

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    INDIANAPOLIS - JANUARY 02:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts looks to pass the ball during NFL game against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    All must be right with the world if Manning is back in the MVP discussion. The Colts quarterback somehow got his team to the playoffs when all the odds were stacked against Indianapolis and Manning was playing the worst football of his career. Still, he finished strong and posted another incredible season.

    His 33 touchdowns and 4,700 passing yards were the second-most in the NFL. His 66.3 completion percentage and 91.9 QB rating were both top 10 in the league, and he did all this without some of his favorite weapons and a patchwork offensive line.

    There's only one player in the NFL who did more with less.

2. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 28:  Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles in action against the Minnesota Vikings at Lincoln Financial Field on December 26, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    If anyone thought Vick was going to be the MVP, they probably bit their tongues after his stinker in a loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Then Vick sat out the final week of the regular season with a leg injury (the fifth game he's missed this year), and any hope of him coming away with this award vanished.

    Still, Vick has had an incredible season.

    He passed for 3,018 yards, ran for 676 yards and recorded 30 touchdowns. No other player in the NFL is such a threat on both the ground and through the air, and Vick electrified fans and opponents alike with his shifty moves. His 100.2 QB rating was the fourth highest in all of football and a sure-fire sign that Vick had rejoined the ranks of elite NFL quarterbacks.

    But he's no MVP. Not this season, anyway.

1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

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    FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 02:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates a touchdown by teammate BenJarvis Green-Ellis in the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins on January 2, 2011 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa
    Elsa/Getty Images

    The argument here shouldn't be whether Brady is the NFL MVP. It should be whether this is his best season ever, remembering that he was an MVP in 2007 for an undefeated Patriots team. But if you needed any more convincing that Brady is football's most valuable player, then here's a look at his numbers once again.

    111.0 QB rating - first in the NFL

    36 passing touchdowns - first in the NFL

    4 interceptions - first in the NFL

    65.9 completion percentage - fourth in the NFL

    3,900 passing yards - eighth in the NFL

    Want a kicker? The New England Patriots are 14-2 and the best team in the NFL. Brady is the best player on the best team, and he's performed at an elite level without most of his favorite weapons. New toys, same result.

    Brady is the best of the best, and your 2010 NFL MVP.