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NFL: Aaron Rodgers and 15 Offensive MVP Candidates

Eric JohnsonCorrespondent IIIJune 26, 2011

NFL: Aaron Rodgers and 15 Offensive MVP Candidates

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    The NFL lockout has stolen much of the NFL offseason talks, so now it's time to shift to something a little more fun to talk about.

    With the 2012 season getting closer, predictions are starting to be made, and I'll start with the NFL MVP award.

    In the history of the NFL the MVP award has not gone to an offensive player only three times. While there are plenty of great defensive players worthy of being mentioned, history shows the odds of them pulling in a MVP isn't likely.

    That's why we will focus on some of the best offensive talents in the NFL today.

    An MVP isn't the best statistical player in the NFL; it also has to account for what kind of impact a player has on his team and the league.

    Spoiler alert: There are a lot of QBs on this list. Let's get started...

15) Arian Foster, Houston Texans

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    A sleeper in many ways, Arian Foster was the NFL's leading rusher last year.

    While the Texans have one of the highest scoring offenses in the league, Foster will get plenty of touches and scoring opportunities. He is a big running back who can break tackles, and a valuable receiver as well.

    After a breakout year last year, it will be interesting to see if he can match that or do even better.

14) Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Bucs

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    Freeman showed a lot of promise in his second year in the league. Leading an underdog Bucs team, he made critics view the team a lot different after a hot start and threatening for a playoff spot.

    Freeman cut his interceptions last year by a noteworthy 12, while having six total picks for the year. Oh, he also tossed 25 touchdowns.

    The young 23-year-old is also pretty good on his feet as well, making it hard for defenses to plan for.

    Tampa Bay could be gunning for the playoffs this year, and underdog candidate Josh Freeman will be right in the middle of things.

13) Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams

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    Sam Bradford showed promise in his rookie year with the St. Louis Rams.

    While not having any notable targets to throw to, Bradford kept St. Louis in the playoff chase until the final week of the season.

    The NFC West is by far the worst division in the NFL, and if Bradford can propel the Rams to the playoffs it will be interesting to see what critics say about him.

    Many questioned him being a No. 1 pick after coming to the NFL draft straight after a major injury, but he looks like he hasn't missed a beat.

    Look for Bradford to be better in his second year.

12) Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Matt Cassel started getting a lot of attention when Tom Brady went down due to injury in 2008. Rightfully so...

    In a bad AFC West division, it was Cassel and the Chiefs that came out on top. While he won't dazzle you statistically, he showed last year that he can be a good game manager.

    Cassel also formed a great chemistry with receiver Dwayne Bowe, catching 15 of his 27 touchdown passes.

    With his improvements last year, look for him to help Kansas City in their chase for a second straight playoff appearance.

11) Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    I put him so low on the list because of his recent broken foot.

    But Ben is always a threat when playing. He is a big, mobile quarterback who can always make plays.

    Will he come out with the fire to lead the Steelers to another Super Bowl appearance?

10) Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

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    With the departure of Brett Favre, the Vikings once again become Adrian Peterson's team.

    Since 2009 Peterson watched his workload decrease, but now if the Vikings want to compete it will have to rise again.

    With the possibility of rookie Christian Ponder taking snaps, Peterson will get the touches he needs to put up the stats needed to be in MVP talks.

9) Eli Manning, New York Giants

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    Eli Manning threw for a career-high 31 touchdowns last year; however, he also gave up an inexcusable number of interceptions at 25.

    Another positive note for him is he did throw for over 4,000 yards last season for the second consecutive year.

    The Giants have a real shot of winning the NFC East this year, and if Manning can lead them there while cutting down his interceptions, he has a legit shot of winning his first MVP.

8) Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans

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    Maybe the most exciting running back in the NFL today, Johnson has the explosiveness to go for big yards any play.

    He is also in the same shoes as running back Adrian Peterson, as they both have possibilities of starting rookie quarterbacks.

    Johnson will be the beneficiary of many short passes from Locker until he gets comfortable, and will be a thorn in any defenses side to plan around.

    If Johnson can rush for near 2,000 yards again, he will for sure be in talks for the MVP award.

7) Phillip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

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    Will this be the year that Phillip Rivers captures an MVP?

    Rivers had the best passer rating of any quarterback in 2011 and threw for over 4,000 yards for his third consecutive year. If he can get some stability in his receiving core, look for Rivers to do just as well or surpass those numbers.

    Having six games against teams with sub par passing defenses in his division always helps his case. If he can continue to carve up defenses and lead the Chargers to the playoffs he will certainly once again be in talks.

6) Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

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    Matt Ryan led the Falcons to the best record in the NFC while having his best statistical season as well. It will be interesting to see if he can top that, or even keep the same pace.

    In his third year, he once again improved his TD/INT margin, while showing he can be another quarterback who can be a great game manager.

    Matty Ice comes into the season at 26 and looks to be in a great position to lead the Falcons to the playoffs again.

    Can the Falcons do better than last year's 13-3 season?

5) Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

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    Two years ago the Saints won the Super Bowl. Last year, however, they only secured a wild-card spot and blew their chance to a Seahawks team with a losing record.

    Drew Brees has made his name as being one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and he has earned it.

    Brees once again threw for over 4,000 yards again last year but his interceptions were a career high at 22. If New Orleans wants to punch their ticket to another Super Bowl, Brees will have to shine again.

4) Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Love him or hate him, Michael Vick played last year like a Madden cheat code.

    It only took him 12 games to put up his best season in the NFL with a career high 100.2 passer rating. He also put up career highs with 3,018 passing yards and 21 passing touchdowns.

    Oh, and don't forget the man can still run the ball better than some running backs, posting a career-high nine rushing touchdowns.

    If you don't get the point, he set a ton of career highs last year, leading the Eagles to an NFC East championship. If he puts up the same production through 16 games next year, he will be the NFL MVP.

3) Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts

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    When is the last time he hasn't been on this list?

    The Colts relied on Manning more than ever last year, as he had a career high in passing attempts and yards last season.

    It's no secret that the Colt's playoff hopes rest on Manning's shoulders. As long as they are in playoff contention he will continue to be an MVP threat.

2) Tom Brady, New England Patriots

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    Last season's MVP makes the list again as a top three favorite.

    After leading the Patriots to another great season at 14-2, Brady and New England fell short to the New York Jets in the playoffs.

    While his 2007 will possibly go down as the greatest statistical season for a quarterback in history, last year's was great as well. Brady threw for 3,900 yards, 36 touchdowns and an impressive career-low four interceptions.

    As great as a competitor as Brady is, odds are the two-time MVP will come out as good as ever in hopes of winning his fourth Super Bowl title.

1) Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

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    The hardware in this picture won't be the last in the career of Rodgers' career.

    With Brett Favre an afterthought in Title Town, the Packers fans can now focus on the bright future that quarterback Aaron Rodgers brings to the table. While helping Green Bay to their first Super Bowl since 1997, Rodgers still has a lot of room for growth, and if he puts it together he will be a Hall of Fame quarterback.

    Rodgers enters this season at 27 years old, the prime of his career. He also brings a dangerous receiving core headlined by Pro Bowler Greg Jennings. This duo has been impressive in their few years together, and they should mesh even better this year.

    Look for Rodgers to throw for 4,000-plus yards and 30-plus touchdowns in his best year in his young NFL career, and winning his first ever MVP.

Conclusion

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    These 15 players aren't the only candidates for MVP, but players that have a good chance of winning it.

    A lot of budding players made this list, and a few underdogs, but anything can happen any given year. After all, a kicker actually won one year right?

    Did I leave anyone out? Don't agree with my list? Like my list? Leave me a comment and let's discuss. Thanks for reading!

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