Year after year in the AFC South, the Colts have been the dominant force and the Texans, Titans and Jaguars have been left in the dust. This year, however, a triumphant Houston team stands with a two-game lead over its closest competitor, the Titans.
Of course, the Jaguars are still going nowhere at 3-8, and the Colts have dropped to 0-12, but all four teams have special players on offense and defense that have been able to make things happen throughout the season. This article presents each team's offensive and defensive MVPs.
Offensive MVP: Arian Foster, RB
Though Arian Foster put up much better numbers last season, his 2011 campaign is far from a disappointment. He has missed two games due to injury and is splitting time with Ben Tate, but Foster has racked up 916 rushing yards, 510 receiving yards and 10 total touchdowns.
Andre Johnson has also been plagued by injury this year and Matt Schaub is out for the season, but the Texans can still rely on Foster to produce. He has racked up over 100 yards from scrimmage in eight of 10 games, and he's showing that his rookie season wasn't a fluke.
Foster has been an extremely easy player for the Texans to build an offense around, and he is a big reason why they are 9-3 and looking like a lock for the playoffs.
Defensive MVP: Jonathan Joseph, CB
There are many players on Houston's defense that have been playing extremely well this season, but I chose Jonathan Joseph because he is making the Texans look like geniuses for signing him. The Eagles took Nnamdi Asomugha for a much heftier price, but Joseph has been playing much better.
Joseph has 35 tackles, 13 pass deflections and four picks this year, and he's playing like a top 10 corner. The Texans had the league's worst pass defense last season, but this year they have improved greatly, and Joseph is a big reason why.
Offensive MVP: Matt Hasselbeck, QB
Though Nate Washington and Hasselbeck are both having productive seasons, the fact that Hasselbeck is still succeeding at age 36 is what gives him the edge. He was signed originally to be just a mentor to Jake Locker, but Hasselbeck is putting together a solid season, and the Titans are 7-5.
The Titans like to run the ball, but Hasselbeck has been able to get things going in the passing game, throwing for 2,657 yards this season despite losing Kenny Britt. Hasselbeck has proved to be a solid passer and good leader for a Titans team that is on the fringes of the playoff race.
Defensive MVP: Colin McCarthy, LB
Who? The fourth-round pick out of Miami was just expected to be a backup for Barrett Ruud but when Ruud got injured, McCarthy stepped in and has, if anything, played better. He has been a key component in many close wins for the Titans and has exceeded expectations this season. McCarthy has notched 42 tackles, two forced fumbles, two pass deflections and an interception this season.
McCarthy is definitely looking to have a bright NFL career, and he's forced turnovers to help seal wins in back-to-back weeks. He is a great playmaker at linebacker and will definitely be a great asset to Tennessee's defense for years to come.
Offensive MVP: Maurice Jones-Drew, RB
Were you expecting anyone else? The Jaguars' passing attack has been awful this year, but Maurice Jones-Drew still moves the chains. He has rushed for 1,137 yards and five touchdowns with an average of 4.5 yards per carry, and he's caught 29 passes for 297 yards and a score.
With a pitiful offense around him, MJD may be the only reason Jaguars fans go to the stadium. The man knows how to play football. After coming off of a major knee surgery this offseason, MJD said in an interview it would not stop him from carrying the load, and it hasn't. He has been given the ball 250 times this year and is one of the league's best and most valuable running backs.
MJD is only 26 and shows no signs of slowing down despite incredible odds against him. Few players mean more to their teams than he means to the Jaguars.
Defensive MVP: Daryl Smith, LB
Unfortunately, Daryl Smith's quiet demeanor means he does not get recognized for his immense talent. He simply plays the game, and he's the anchor of the Jaguars' defense. He has racked up 84 total tackles this year with 2.5 sacks, six pass deflections, a pick and a forced fumble.
The Jaguars need to draft or sign a solid defensive lineman to disrupt opposing offenses and assist linebackers and defensive backs, but Smith has put together a solid season without one. He is on pace for another 100-tackle year and is the kind of player the Jaguars are lucky to have on defense.
Offensive MVP: Pierre Garcon, WR
An argument could also be made for running backs Donald Brown or Delone Carter, but the fact that Pierre Garcon's numbers haven't suffered a bit this season, despite having Curtis Painter at quarterback instead of Peyton Manning, is quite impressive.
Garcon has hauled in 55 passes for 805 yards and six touchdowns during his most productive season yet, and he has been able to make plays despite overwhelming failure on the Colts' offense and a disappointing season by Reggie Wayne. Garcon is young, and whoever is under center in 2012 would be smart to create chemistry with him.
Defensive MVP: Pat Angerer, LB
At least one defender doesn't resemble tissue paper trying to stop a locomotive when playing against the run. Pat Angerer, who is in his second year, has recorded 112 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a pass deflection. Angerer is just about the only respectable player on the Colts' horrid defense at the moment, and he is third in the league in terms of tackles.
Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are both old and overrated, but Angerer is young and promising. He will be one of few Colts defenders that will still be a starter in Indianapolis in a couple years. Plus, he has a cool name.