2011 NFL MVP: Top 10 Players Who Will Dominate the Headlines This Season

Nicholas SteblenkoContributor IIIAugust 3, 2011

2011 NFL MVP: Top 10 Players Who Will Dominate the Headlines This Season

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    I've seen enough.

    There have been a lot of people throwing around predictions for the 2011 NFL MVP. The player who will end up with that honor may turn out to be more obvious than some of these crazy guesses indicate.

    Here are the top MVP candidates for the coming season, and many of the names will come as no surprise.

#10: Chris Johnson

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    While Chris Johnson is a fantasy stud, it is obvious that he is the main weapon on a sluggish Tennessee Titans team.

    However, the Titans went out and picked up a veteran quarterback in Matt Hasselbeck. The former Seahawks signal-caller could be boom-or-bust for Tennessee.

    If things work out the right way, Tennessee might be a long shot to win the AFC South and head for the playoffs, but not without a titanic performance by CJ2K.

    He will have to be at his greatest, which makes him a perfect candidate for MVP of the NFL this season.

#9: Philip Rivers

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    Last year, Philip Rivers had an MVP-caliber season that went almost unnoticed because of the Chargers' disappointing final record of 9-7.

    Rivers threw for over 4,700 yards, 30 TD's, a 66.0 percent completion percentage, and a QB rating of 101.8. That's a ridiculous stat line for a guy who wasn't playing come February.

    The problem may not be Rivers so much as it is the rest of the "Sad" Diego squad, but it's still on an MVP to figure out how best to lead his team into the postseason. Rivers will have to pull the Chargers together while putting up similar numbers if they want to change the tune on the west coast.

#8: Arian Foster

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    The breakout performer for 2010 was obvious. Arian Foster led the league in rushing yards and was a monster for opponents to plan against.

    Not only could he be a threat running the ball, but he offers a great option coming out of the backfield to catch passes. The dual threat nature of his game is a load to handle, even for the best defenses.

    The Texans have had trouble getting over the hump ever since their inaugural season. With the Peyton Manning-led Colts in the same division, it's hard to climb to the top. Yet, if Foster has another brilliant season and Houston can hold it together on defense, we could be looking at the next big thing.

#7: Jamaal Charles

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    I'm sure plenty of you out there are shaking your heads at this one.

    How could a member of the Kansas City Chiefs make this list?

    Well, it's actually quite simple. Jamaal Charles gives their offense a pop like no other running back in the league. Last season, he split carries with Thomas Jones and still managed to rush for 6.4 yards per carry en route to 1,400 yards on the ground.

    This year is going to be a little different now that he has proven himself to be explosive for an entire season.

    Charles will see the ball more than the 230 touches he got last season, which also makes it likely he will find the end zone more than five times. I would not be surprised to see him with over 325 carries this season.

    All in all, with the young Chiefs still on the rise, Kansas City could be looking to add 2 more wins to their record. A 12-4 season coupled with 1,600 yards and 12 TD's from Charles would certainly add up to an MVP-caliber performance to me.

#6: Matt Ryan

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    He still hasn't quite reached elite status as one of the league's top three quarterbacks, but Matt Ryan had a breakout performance of his own in 2010.

    Ryan threw for 3,705 yards last season in the toughest division in the NFL right now, the NFC South. The young field general is only going to get better.

    One of the main reasons the Falcons sat atop their division last season was the low turnover ratio Ryan put up. He threw only nine interceptions throughout the regular season while posting 28 touchdowns.

    The only thing holding Ryan back right now is the Falcon's play calling. If they turn him loose and let him start running the offense like a Peyton Manning or Drew Brees, the rest of the league better watch out.

#5: Drew Brees

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    The only quarterback better than Matt Ryan in the NFC South is this man: Drew Brees.

    Brees is elite. He can run the entire offense if he needs to and knows his team as well or better than any other quarterback out there. He can utilize every weapon at his disposal, and there are plenty of them there.

    Some might argue that they are only weapons because Brees makes them so.

    The Saints had an up and down season in 2010, mainly because of the division they play in. The Falcons and the Bucs gave them a few trouble spots to deal with and will most likely do the same this season.

    Brees posted a 68.1 completion percentage and threw for 4,620 yards. His 33 touchdowns were good, but his interceptions doubled from 11 in 2009 to 22 in 2010. If he can get the turnovers under control, the Saints could be in for another magical run behind New Orleans' prodigal son.

#4: Peyton Manning

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    Peyton Manning has already won the NFL MVP award four times (2003, 2004, 2008, 2009), and he's a huge threat to take home a fifth in 2011.

    Despite throwing for 33 touchdowns and 4,700 yards in 2010, Manning also had his worst numbers in interceptions (17) and quarterback rating (91.9) since the 2002 season. Manning will be looking to rebound this season, as time is running out on the 34-year-old to win another Super Bowl.

#3: Tom Brady

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    Some people love him, while others despise him. The truth is, Tom Brady has been the guy every team wants under center for the better part of a decade and the reigning NFL MVP won't just go away in 2011.

    Last season, the Patriots went 14-2 with a rag-tag gang of no-names and has-been players that blew everyone's mind away.

    Think of it this way, when the Pats went undefeated in the regular season, they had Randy Moss running all over the field.

    Last year, they were just two small wins away from repeating that feat, and their leading receiver was a slot man by the name of Welker who finished with just over 800 yards. How do you think that happened?

    Brady is the man to beat right now. His team will always be in the conversation for a Super Bowl and his name will always be in the conversation for MVP. I will give everyone the fact that he has the best coach in the league with him in Belichick, but Bill isn't out there tossing the ball.

    This year, Brady will have to be at his best if the Pats are going to make it back to fame and fortune. An MVP-caliber season could be in the works yet again.

#2: Michael Vick

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    The argument for Vick as a number one candidate is obvious. He does more for his team than any other player on the field.

    The key to watch will be what can hinder Vick's run for the MVP title in 2011.

    Injuries are always a concern. Vick will also need to overcome a tough division again in order to reach the pinnacle of his career.

    Last season, after obtaining the number one role in Philadelphia, Vick threw for over 3,000 yards while rushing for 676 on the ground. He finished with 21 passing touchdowns and 9 rushing touchdowns, numbers that should be on the rise in 2011.

    In any case, Vick will be the reason the Eagles go anywhere this season, but can he stay on the field long enough to take them there?

#1: Aaron Rodgers

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    The Super Bowl MVP.

    Aaron Rodgers has been on the rise since the departure of Brett Favre, and, against all odds, took the Packers on their dream run to the title last season.

    Now, it is back to work for Rodgers and the Pack as they will try to repeat as Super Bowl Champs in 2011.

    Rodgers fell just short of his third consecutive 4,000-yard passing season last year as the general at the helm of a vicious passing attack.

    With Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones, Jordy Nelson and the return of Jermichael Finley, Rodgers should have no trouble getting back to his 4,000-yard form once again.

    Of course, as with Vick, there are health concerns with his mobility outside of the pocket. Last year, Rodgers went down with a concussion near the end of the season, but promptly returned the following week to play.

    If he stays on the field, there is no reason Aaron Rodgers can't become the next NFL MVP. We may be witnessing the birth of a dynastic quarterback in Green Bay once again.

Who Does Not Make the List

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    There is one group of players that won't be winning the NFL MVP in 2011: free agent wide receivers that no one wants to take a chance on anymore because they are tired of the bull crap that comes out of their mouths every single week.

    Actually, there has NEVER been an NFL MVP from the wide receiver position. There has even been a kicker that won the MVP, but never a wide receiver.

    If Jerry Rice can't do it, no one can.