Can he do it again?
With the 2011 NFL football season right around the corner, here are my top five candidates for winning the Associated Press NFL MVP award.
With Tom Brady wrapping up the first unanimous MVP award a year ago, I am extremely eager to see how the race unfolds this season and see who shows up and who isn't quite up to par.
I believe you're going to recognize some of these names.
Michael Vick is the most electrifying player on the field every week. He entices fans, whether they love him or hate him, and he puts up points.
In 2010, he guided the Eagles offense in a season where they racked-up the third-highest points-per-game average, earned Pro Bowl honors in his first year back as a starter and led the Eagles to the postseason, where he and his team lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Packers.
Although his preseason thus far has been somewhat disappointing, with a three-interception performance against the Steelers, he should bounce back well. Vick, now with a full year under his belt, should only get better.
As long as he can stay healthy, I expect big things out of him.
Peyton Manning is the epitome of consistency when it comes to quarterbacks in the NFL.
Last year was arguably his worst season since 2002 and yet he still threw for 4,700 yards, 33 touchdowns and had a Top 10 passer rating.
Let me rephrase that—his worst year in almost a decade and he is still in the Top 10. This guy is that good.
If you don't think his stats are good enough to win the most valuable player award, let's just talk about how much better he makes this team. With Peyton Manning, the Colts are a playoff-contending team with 10-plus wins every year. Without him, they are division bottom feeders with a four or five win range.
Manning makes this team who they are and will continue to do that until he retires.
Last season was rough for the Chargers, but even though they missed the playoffs, it was largely because of inconsistent special teams.
The Chargers had the No. 1 total offense and total defense last season. Rivers led the league in passing yards, was fifth in touchdown passes and had the second best rating behind only Tom Brady.
This wasn't a first year occurrence, either. Rivers has passed for more than 4,000 yards in each of the past three years. He has been a Top Three-rated quarterback in all of those years and thrown over 30 touchdowns in two of them.
Beyond the numbers, look who this guy was throwing to last year. He threw touchdowns to 11 different players. Besides Antonio Gates, he had no legitimate game-changer. This is a player that, if his team gets the wins, he will get MVP consideration.
The MVP award for this coming season, in my opinion, mostly comes down to these last two players. The first of these two is Aaron Rodgers, quarterback of the recent Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers.
This guy has defied all odds to become what he is today.
Having succeeded a Hall of Famer like Brett Favre in the controversial situation in which he did, many players could have faltered. However, you cannot ignore the stats he has put up in his first three years of leading the Packers.
Rodgers has thrown 28-plus touchdowns in all three years, had a passer rating of over 100 and thrown for over 4,000 yard in two of those years. Not to mention, he has a Super Bowl MVP award and ring.
Rodgers is still young at just 27 years. I am certain he will win an MVP award before he is done in Green Bay.
Whether it will be next year, I don't know. However, it will happen and most likely more than once.
Tom Brady is the second of two players that I believe will have the strongest chance of winning MVP this year.
In Brady, we have both the reigning MVP and first ever unanimous winner. I don't see any slowing down for the Patriots quarterback.
While Brady's yards weren't his highest last year, they were certainly his most productive. With a 9:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio (36:4) and a passer rating of 111.0, Brady was masterful in his offense once again.
He showed the ability to adapt while losing Randy Moss in the middle of the season and should be able to handle anything that is required of him.
The biggest criticism of Brady is that it's the team who win, and not just him. This was evident in 2008 when he was hurt and Matt Cassel led them to an 11-6 record.
While this was a good record, they didn't reach the playoffs and that is what Brady does. He can get you through the tough games, make the game-winning drives and play his best in the clutch.
Also, no other team can say they went 16-0 and 14-2 in two of the last three seasons that their starter was healthy.
Brady must be doing something right.