NFL Power Ranking: The Top 10 Early Favorites for MVP
The 2011 NFL season is now fully underway and, with five weeks worth of games, we can begin looking ahead to which player will be bringing home the MVP award when the season ends.
There are many quality candidates right now and, while I wasn't able to fit every player worth mentioning on the list, I think I've put together a solid top 10.
The quarterbacks rule this list, just like they do in the actual games, but a few running backs and wide receivers were able to get their names among the top 10.
Is your favorite player in the running for the MVP? Read on to find out.
10) Adrian Peterson
Season Stats: 498 rushing yards, 4.5 yards per carry, six rushing touchdowns.
There were quite a few guys I thought about putting in this spot, but, in the end, I just couldn't leave out Adrian Peterson. Peterson has the bad luck of being the best running back in the league while playing for one of the worst teams.
If he played on a team that was actually winning games he would be on the verge of cracking the top five. Unfortunately, that's not the case and Peterson must produce his outstanding numbers with almost no help from anyone on his offense.
Peterson is the Vikings offense. Donovan McNabb is playing terribly and the line is mediocre at best. Without AD this team would never move the ball. Considering the award is called the Most Valuable Player, I'd say Peterson fits the bill.
9) Fred Jackson
Season Stats: 480 rushing yards, 5.3 yards per carry, five rushing touchdowns.
The Buffalo Bills have been surprising everyone all year long and Fred Jackson is a big reason why. His teammate and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is getting most of the media coverage, but Jackson's tough running has been just as important to his team's success.
Fred Jackson currently sits in third behind Darren McFadden and Adrian Peterson in rushing yards and he's second to only Peterson is rushing touchdowns. Out of the three, his team does have the most wins, but he does have to compete with Fitzpatrick for votes.
Jackson's biggest hurdle to overcome is that there's another player on his team who has just as much of a claim to the MVP as he does. If he and Fitzpatrick continue to play at a high level, it will be hard for either of them to win because they'll end up splitting votes. For now, he sits just inside the top 10, but it will take a big performance the rest of the year for him to move up this list.
8) Wes Welker
Season Stats: 45 receptions, 740 receiving yards, five touchdowns.
Wes Welker, much like Fred Jackson, suffers from having another player on his team putting up equally prolific numbers. Tom Brady is currently enjoying one of his best seasons ever and Welker has been one of the main benefactors.
Welker is currently on pace to have over 135 catches, 2,200 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns. Those kind of numbers would certainly make it hard to keep him off of anyone's short list for MVP, but that also means that Tom Brady's numbers are also going to be ridiculously high.
Sadly for Welker and Jackson, this is a quarterback's league and both of them are going to lose votes to the quarterbacks on their team. Unless Welker catches all of Brady's touchdowns for the rest of the year, he probably won't be able to crack the top five in the MVP race.
7) Matthew Stafford
Season Stats: 63.6 completion percentage, 1,436 passing yards, 13 touchdowns, four interceptions, 101.4 quarterback rating.
Matthew Stafford has led the Detroit Lions to their first 5-0 start since 1956. The leap this team made this year is amazing. They've gone from basement dwellers in the NFC North to looking like they could challenge the Green Bay Packers for the conference crown.
Staford has always had the talent, he just hasn't been able to stay healthy over a full season. Now that he's shaken off the injury bug, we're getting to see just how good this guy is. His numbers put him on the verge of cracking the league's elite, but it's the fact that he has the Lions winning that puts him on this list.
That said, he's losing some votes because of how well Calvin Johnson has been playing. Johnson has about two thirds of Stafford's touchdown passes and is on pace to shatter Randy Moss' single season touchdown record. Stafford is going to have to get the ball to other receivers more often if he wants to overtake his teammate on this list.
6) Darren McFadden
Season Stats: 519 rushing yards, 5.7 yards per carry, three touchdowns.
Darren McFadden has brought the Oakland Raiders back to respectability while leading the league in rushing. Even more impressive is that he's doing so on only 18 carries a game. His 5.7 yards per carry is more than a yard higher than Adrian Peterson.
The only real reason to knock McFadden down a few spots is that his team is only 3-2. Given that so many other players are putting up comparable stats while leading their teams to more victories.
If McFadden is able to continue his dominant play while leading the Raiders to a few more victories, he could move up this list. At this time however, he's going to have to settle for the sixth spot.
5) Calvin Johnson
Season Stats: 29 receptions, 451 receiving yards, nine touchdowns.
As I stated earlier in the slideshow, Calvin Johnson is on a torrid pace and has a realistic chance at breaking Randy Moss' single season touchdown mark. His nine touchdowns through five games is ridiculous and it doesn't look like he'll be slowing down soon.
Johnson has helped lead the Detroit Lions to an undefeated record, something they haven't done since 1956. He has some help in the form of Matthew Stafford, but I think Johnson has been the bigger key to the Lions surprising success.
It's always difficult for a wide receiver to win the MVP, and this year will be no different given the high level of play from some of the league's quarterbacks. That said, if Johnson is able to continue playing at such a high level, he may have an outside shot at taking home the hardware.
4) Ryan Fitzpatrick
Season Stats: 65.7 completion percentage, 1,233 receiving yards, 10 touchdowns, four interceptions, 96.4 quarterback rating.
Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buffalo Bills might be the most surprising team in the NFL this season. Not many people could've predicted that they would be 4-1 going into the sixth week of the season. However, they are, and a lot of that is due to Fitzpatrick's clutch play in big games.
Fitzpatrick has always been a decent starter because he is intelligent with his throws and possess solid accuracy. However, something happened this past offseason that turned him into a clutch performer who has helped turned Buffalo into one of the better teams in the NFL.
Fitzpatrick doesn't possess the out of this world numbers that some of the guys above him have and that keeps him from cracking the top three. He also splits some votes with Fred Jackson, who is playing some of the best football of his career. If Fitzpatrick can inflate his statistics a little over the coming weeks, he may have a shot at winning, but for now he's just a dark horse candidate.
3) Drew Brees
Season Stats: 69.4 completion percentage, 1,769 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, five interceptions, 102.3 quarterback rating.
Drew Brees is quietly having another great season in which he puts up tons of yards, is super accurate and throws for 30 or more touchdowns. It's saying something about how well the guys ahead of him are playing that he can't crack the top two with numbers he's putting up.
Brees has basically had this same season for the last three or four years. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but if he doesn't do something that really impresses me, it's hard for me to give him a spot above the top two guys.
It really does just come down to pure numbers at this point. All three of the top guys are leading their teams to big wins early in the season and they're putting up big numbers. Unfortunately for Brees, his numbers aren't up to par with the final two guys on this list. He could move up the list depending on how well he finishes out the season, but for now he's sitting just barely in the top three.
2) Tom Brady
Season Stats: 67.9 completion percentage, 1,874 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, six interceptions, 109.5 quarterback rating.
Tom Brady began the season on an absolute tear. He was seemingly unstoppable until the second half of the New England Patriots game against the Buffalo Bills. In that game he threw four touchdowns, but also had four interceptions.
Since that Sunday he's rebounded nicely and continues to put up solid numbers. However, this is the early season MVP race and, as of now, the guy in front of him has yet to make a mistake.
Brady still has a good chance at winning this award at the end of the season, especially if he can dominate teams the way he was before that Bills loss. Another thing to watch out for is whether or not Wes Welker steals votes from him. That said, don't be surprised to see him compete for the award throughout the season and be right on the verge of winning at the end of the year.
1) Aaron Rodgers
Season Stats: 71.7 completion percentage, 1,721 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, two interceptions, 122.9 quarterback rating.
There's no denying that Aaron Rodgers is the most valuable player in the NFL right now. He's leading the defending Super Bowl champions to another great season and putting up ridiculously efficient passing numbers. You just cannot put any other player above him right now.
Let's take a look at some of his numbers. He has the best completion percentage in the league and his quarterback rating is 13 points higher than any of his contemporaries. He's tied with Tom Brady for most touchdowns, but has four less interceptions than the New England Patriots quarterback.
It's really not even close, which isn't surprising after how well he played last year. He and his team were flying under the radar earlier, but now they are at the forefront and showing everyone that they are still a force to be reckoned with. Barring injury, this is Rodgers' award to lose. If continues to play as well as he has been, it's going to take a monster rest of the season for someone to take the MVP award away from him.