2011 NFL Power Rankings: Top 10 MVP Candidates
Football is back, and with with every new season comes a new set of predictions. One of the most popular predictions other than who will win the Super Bowl is determining who has the best shot to win NFL MVP.
Last year New England's Tom Brady took home the award for the second time, beating out Michael Vick and becoming the first player to receive all 50 votes. While he is still a candidate to win it again this season, he will have strong competition from several other players who all had solid seasons last year. Let's take a look at the ten most likely players to win the MVP award this coming season.
10. Ndamukong Suh
2010 stats: 16 GP, 66 TACK, 10 SACK
Ndamukong Suh made an instant impact his first season, playing all 16 games and recording 10 sacks, claiming the 2010 Defensive Rookie of the Year award. He has the potential to become one of the most dominating defensive tackles in the league and will earn several trips to the Pro Bowl, along with multiple All-Pro accolades.
9. Chris Johnson
2010 stats: 16 GP, 1,364, 11 TD
Chris Johnson's claim to fame came in 2009 when he rushed for a mind-boggling 2,006 yards on 358 carries (5.6 avg). In doing so he became just the sixth running back in NFL history to cross the 2,000-yard plateau, earning him the nickname "CJ2K". Johnson followed up his breakout season with another impressive one in 2010, rushing for over 1,300 yards. He was selected to the All-Pro First Team in 2009, and was voted the 2009 AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year. He has also made three Pro Bowl appearances (2008-2010).
8. Matt Ryan
2010 stats: 16 GP, 3,705 YDS, 28 TD, 9 INT
Matt Ryan's first pass in the NFL was a 62-yard touchdown toss to Michael Jenkins, since then it has become apparent he is destined for great things. In 2010 he was mentioned early as a potential MVP candidate but a few sub-par performances during the last five games of the season cost him consideration for the award. Now entering his fourth season Ryan will try to propel his way into the upper echelon of elite NFL QBs. He has the talent and the targets around him with Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Michael Turner. He will once again be the subject of MVP talk.
7. Adrian Peterson
2010 stats: 15 GP, 1,298 YDS, 12 TD
Easily the best all-around running back in the NFL, Adrian Peterson has consistently put up big numbers throughout his four-year NFL career. His most productive season came in 2009 when he rushed for 1,383 yards and scoring 18 touchdowns. However, Peteron's biggest flaw is his inability to take care of the football. He has fumbled 21 times in his career, and averaged 6.67 fumbles per season from 2007 to 2009. That aspect of his game constantly cost him serious MVP consideration, but last year he improved significantly, fumbling just once all season.
6. Philip Rivers
2010 stats: 16 GP, 4,710 YDS, 30 TD
Philip Rivers has been in the league seven years, but has only recently emerged as a true MVP candidate. However, he has shown he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath with Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Since 2008, Rivers has thrown for at least 4,000 yards every season while posting a 100 plus passer rating. In that span he has thrown 92 touchdowns and just 33 interceptions. Expect Rivers to have another strong season in 2011, throwing his hat into the ring for his first NFL MVP award.
5. Drew Brees
2010 stats: 16 GP, 4,620 YDS, 22 TD, 22 INT
Drew Brees is a statistical freak and has been since he joined the New Orleans Saints in 2006. Brees has thrown for at least 4,000 yards every season during his five-year tenure with the Saints. In 2008 he passed for over 5,000 yards becoming only the second QB in NFL history to accomplish the feat, the other QB is Dan Marino. In fact he fell just 15 yards short of breaking Marino's record for most passing yards in a single season. Brees is a five-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro, and three-time AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year and a Super Bowl champion. It is only a matter of time before he adds an MVP award to his trophy case.
4. Michael Vick
2010 stats: 12 GP, 3,018 YDS, 21 TD, 6 INT
When Michael Vick was released from prison, most football fans doubted he would find success again in the NFL. It was not because they assumed his athletic skills deteriorated, but because most teams were hesitant to absorb the baggage that came with signing him. The Philadelphia Eagles took that risk and signed Vick to a one-year $1.6 million deal as a backup to Donovan McNabb. After McNabb was traded in 2010, the starting job was given to Kevin Kolb, but he sustained an injury, and Vick stepped in and he never looked back. Vick had a standout season, racking up 3,694 all-purpose yards with 30 total touchdowns. What makes his 2010 campaign even more impressive is the fact that he played in only 12 games. This year barring injury, Vick will play in all 16 games, and will likely eclipse his staggering 2010 numbers.
3. Peyton Manning
2010 stats: 16 GP, 4,700 YDS, 33 TD, 17 INT
As long as he is in the league, Peyton Manning will always be in consideration for the MVP award. A four-time winner, he made a decent case for a fifth trophy last year after throwing for 4,700 yards while tossing 33 touchdowns. Manning's career to date is unprecedented, in other words if he was in school and his NFL stats were his grades, he would be class valedictorian. A future first-ballot Hall of Fame Inductee, Manning has been selected to 11 Pro Bowls, eight All-Pro teams, and was rated No. 8 on NFL.com's list of greatest players of all-time in 2009. Any true football fan knows Peyton Manning can never be ruled out of the MVP conversation.
2. Tom Brady
2010 stats: 16 GP, 3,900 YDS, 36 TD, 4 INT
The golden boy of the NFL and reigning MVP, Tom Brady shares the same legendary status as Peyton Manning. He too is regarded as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history and has the resume to prove it. He won his second AP NFL MVP award and Offensive Player of the Year award in 2010 after throwing 36 touchdowns, passing for 3,900 yards and posting a 111.0 passer rating while leading his Patriots to a league-best 14-2 record. Brady also broke Bernie Kosar's record for most pass attempts without an interception with 335. In fact, he only threw four picks all year, a touchdown to interception ratio of nine. Brady became the first player to be unanimously voted as the league's MVP, receiving all 50 votes by the Associated Press. He was rated No. 21 on NFL.com's list of all-time greatest players. Brady has won three Super Bowls, been named to six Pro Bowls, and was selected to three All-Pro teams. As long as he is playing the game of football, his name will be in the MVP discussion.
1. Aaron Rodgers
2010 stats: 15 GP, 3,922 YDS, 28 TD, 11 INT
A few years ago Aaron Rodgers was relatively unknown. To Packers fans, he was just Brett Favre's backup. However when Rodgers secured the starting job in 2008 he unleashed fire on opposing defenses and showed what he is truly capable of. He has averaged over 4,100 yards per season since 2008, throwing at least 28 touchdowns in that time. He is also a skilled runner, racking up at least 200 rushing yards per season since gaining complete control of the offense. Although Rodgers has a ways to go, he has the potential to reach the same caliber as players like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Unlike them, he is a threat to run, making him a more versatile player. He finished the 2010 season with 4,278 all-purpose yards with 28 touchdowns on the way to his first Super Bowl title. Rodgers is still only 27 years old and if he continues to build on his numbers, he will have a legitimate shot at winning his first NFL MVP award.
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A native of Wellesley, Massachusetts, Aashish is a lifelong fan of the Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics. He graduated Wellesley High School in 2008, and is currently a senior at the University at Buffalo in Amherst, New York. You can follow him on Twitter @aashish1989.
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