NFC East: Each Team's Offensive and Defensive MVP
The NFC East is usually one of the toughest divisions in football, and the race for the title is always vicious and unpredictable. This year, the "Dream Team" Eagles were predicted to easily win the division, but they are one loss away from being virtually eliminated from playoff contention.
Meanwhile, the Giants and Cowboys are neck and neck at the top, and there may not be a wild-card spot for the team that doesn't win the East.
For these teams, there have been several players on both sides of the ball making their success possible, and even for the cellar-dwelling Redskins and disappointing Eagles there have been a few dominant playmakers. This slideshow presents each team's offensive and defensive MVPs.
New York Giants
Offensive MVP: Eli Manning
This one was a toss-up between Manning and Victor Cruz. Although Cruz has been impressive, he has also dropped some easy balls and Manning has led the Giants to four comeback wins this year.
Eli Manning has truly proven doubters wrong. No longer in the shadow of older brother Peyton Manning, Eli is completing 62 percent of his passes right now for 2,952 yards and 18 touchdowns, and the Giants are a close second in the NFC East to the Cowboys.
Last year, Eli threw 25 picks, but this year he is on pace for closer to 15. Despite a mediocre running game that hasn't been able to get anything done, Eli is playing the best football of his career and is leading a passing offense that is ranked fifth in the league in terms of yards per game.
The Giants can thank Eli Manning for most of their offensive success this season.
Defensive MVP: Jason Pierre-Paul
Jason Pierre-Paul is a freak of nature. A first-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Pierre-Paul is like the poor man's Julius Peppers in that he can do anything from stopping the run to sacking the quarterback to deflecting passes.
Pierre-Paul's 2011 stats are 44 tackles, 10.5 sacks, four deflections and a forced fumble, and he is making a case for being a top-10 defensive end. Originally filling in for the injured Justin Tuck, JPP has become an incredible asset to New York's defense and is its most productive player.
Cornerback Corey Webster has stepped up his game this year and is looking like a shutdown corner, but JPP gets the nod here, as he has made people forget about Justin Tuck with his incredible ability.
Offensive MVP: LeSean McCoy
DeSean Jackson is inconsistent. Mike Vick is either struggling or injured. The "Dream Team" Eagles are 4-6. However, running back LeSean McCoy is playing the best football of his career.
McCoy has already rushed for over 1,000 yards on less than 200 carries, and he has scored 12 total touchdowns this year, making him the Eagles' most dangerous player on a weekly basis. Jeremy Maclin is putting together a pretty good season and Jason Peters is a top-10 left tackle, but neither of them is exhibiting the kind of dominance McCoy is.
Although it looks too late to salvage Philadelphia's season, McCoy is showing that he can be a staple of the Eagles' offense for years to come if he keeps up this kind of production.
Defensive MVP: Jason Babin
Jason Babin is 31 years old with one good season under his belt. He was a free agent this offseason and despite recording 12.5 sacks in 2010, no team wanted to take a chance with him except the Philadelphia Eagles.
Now, they look like geniuses.
Babin already has 10.0 sacks this season and sealed a Philadelphia win last week over the Giants with a last-minute forced fumble of Eli Manning. He is playing his heart out and is on pace for over 15 sacks this year.
The additions of Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Cullen Jenkins and Babin were supposed to make the Eagles' defense one of the best in the league, but it has been a disappointment except for Babin, who is playing the best football of his career.
Though he is over 30, Babin is playing with intensity and shows no signs of slowing down. He could be a valuable member of Philadelphia's defense for the next few seasons.
Offensive MVP: DeMarco Murray
Honestly, there are many good candidates for this honor. Tony Romo is playing his best football yet, Jason Witten is a beast and Laurent Robinson has come out of nowhere to catch seven touchdowns.
However, DeMarco Murray is the one who has helped spark the Cowboys' reemergence in the playoff race.
Murray, who is only a rookie, has already rushed for 834 yards and two touchdowns after filling in for the injured Felix Jones. Since Murray made his presence known in Week 7 against the Rams when he rushed for 253 yards, the Cowboys have won four straight games and are now sitting atop the NFC East.
The Cowboys were extremely inconsistent at the beginning of the season, but Murray's dominance in the running game has allowed them to get back on track and now they have the looks of a sure-fire playoff team.
Defensive MVP: DeMarcus Ware
Were you really expecting anyone else? DeMarcus Ware has 14 of his team's 30 total sacks, and he currently leads the league in that category.
Ware may be a pretty one-dimensional player, but that works just fine for the Cowboys because he is the best pass-rusher in the league and one of the NFL's best defenders. He is extremely quick and needs to be double-teamed constantly to be contained.
No matter how the rest of the Cowboys are doing, DeMarcus Ware can always be counted on to disrupt opposing offenses and give quarterbacks nightmares.
Offensive MVP: Jabar Gaffney
There wasn't much to work with here. Rookie running back Roy Helu looks alright and if Tim Hightower hadn't been injured, maybe he would've gotten this award, but it goes to Jabar Gaffney for now.
Gaffney has caught 41 passes for 593 yards and three scores, somehow managing to put together a decent season despite being thrown to by either Rex Grossman or John Beck for the entire season.
By no means is he an elite receiver or one of the league's better wideouts, but Gaffney gets some credit for being able to at least get something going in Washington. The main reason Gaffney is getting the award is because of the lack of talent around him.
Maybe his production will increase when the Redskins get a competent quarterback.
Defensive MVP: Ryan Kerrigan
At least this one had some competition. Brian Orakpo has recorded 5.5 sacks this year with two forced fumbles and London Fletcher has had 96 tackles, two forced fumbles and two picks, but the award goes to rookie Ryan Kerrigan, who has already made his presence known in the NFL.
Kerrigan, an outside linebacker and the Redskins' first-round pick in the 2011 draft, has recorded 44 tackles, six sacks, four forced fumbles, and a pick-six this season. He has shown a lot of potential and he and Brian Orakpo could form a formidable pass rush for years to come.
The Redskins may have one of the worst offenses in the NFL, but Kerrigan has helped the defense preserve some dignity through his intensity and playmaking ability.