The Top 10 Early Candidates for 2009 NFL MVP

Kevin Roberts@BreakingKevinSenior Writer IMay 22, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS - JANUARY 4:  Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates his touchdown with teammate Jeff Dugan #83 in the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles during the NFC Wild Card playoff game on January 4, 2009 at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

There are more lists filtering through this site than pop-up ads. It's getting to that "awesomely ridiculous" stage.

And I'm not complaining. God, no. I love it.

What's better than the actual NFL season? The answer is nothing, but a close second is the constant coverage it gets, despite being almost four months away.

We have the Brett Favre Saga, fantasy football hype, trades, roster changes, and best of all, rankings that in no way matter right now.

Such is the life of an NFL fan-waiting and praying over their team, their decisions, and crossing their fingers that their top guy doesn't go all "Tom Brady" on them in training camp.

Oh, and then there's the Madden Curse. Will Troy Polomalu and Larry Fitzgerald put an end to the curse? Heck, will we be seeing them facing off again in 2010's title game?

To all, I say maybe.

But as long as we're all stuck on maybe's, let's add a few more to the fire. Here are 10 guys who, based on past history and current situations, have a real shot at claiming this upcoming season's MVP award.

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1. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings

His chances greatly increase if Brett Favre strolls into town, but even if he's backed by Sage Rosenfels or Tarvaris Jackson, Peterson is primed for another huge year.

If the Vikings are going to have another shot at the division, Peterson will have to be at his best. In fact, even if he can simply match last season's totals of 1,700 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns, he's a shoe-in.

Regardless, just a healthy season and a trip to the playoffs could lock it up for him.

2. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

He's up for Comeback Player of the Year in many people's minds (and I'd agree), but how about two awards in one season?

If Brady doesn't have any set-backs, it shouldn't be too outlandish to expect at least 35 touchdowns and over 4,000 yards.

Oh, is that the definition of outlandish?

Sure, he tore his knee up and his been out of football for a year now, but his system, coaches, and offensive weapons are too good to slow him down for long.

Oh, and he's Tom-friggin-Brady. Remember when Carson Palmer came back from his knee injury? Yeah, he was still pretty good.

Just imagine Brady.

3. Kurt Warner, QB, Arizona Cardinals

I know he's old, but I'm tired of doubting Warner. He's just too nice of a guy.

Still, I'm not picking him as a candidate because he gives thanks to God or bagged groceries with a smile on his face. He makes the list because with or without Anquan Boldin, he has a sick offense, and last time we saw him, he was still ungodly amazing.

Unless an unfortunate injury vaults Matt Leinart into the line-up, we can get ready to see another 3,700+ yard season, and close to 30 touchdowns.

There has to be a drop-off eventually, but something tells me 2009 isn't the year it happens.

4. Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco 49ers

After coming out of nowhere to put up over 1,600 yards a few years ago, Gore has put together two average seasons for a starting running back.

However, it's nowhere close to being his fault, and any kind of positive results from the quarterback position could pay huge dividends, both for Gore and the entire offense.

As that passing game begins to get more respected (a big if), Gore will be able to run more freely.

5. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints

Can we expect another run at Dan Marino's yardage record (5,084)? Sure.

Brees still has the same weapons and system, and last time I checked, is still Drew Brees.

As long as the Saints defense can hold up, and they can get consistency out of their running game, Brees keeping his 2008 form is very possible.

To snag the MVP, though, he may have to do more than just make the playoffs. The Saints may have to win the division.

6. Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts

Manning is the poster boy for consistency, and is constantly among the league leaders in every passing category.

He loses offensive coordinator Tom Moore, as well as Marvin Harrison, but still has the same offense (roughly), and a ton of weapons.

The deciding factor on Manning is if the Colts can stay among the elite, despite drastic loss, and whether or not Anthony Gonzalez and Austin Collie can step-up and produce behind Reggie Wayne.

7. Donovan McNabb, QB, Philadelphia Eagles

McNabb finally put in a full 16 games in 2008, and it paid off.

Despite his team's early struggles, McNabb and his offense re-grouped, and ended the season with a hard-fought battle with the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship game.

McNabb now has three solid receivers at his disposal after the front office nabbed Missouri's Jeremy Maclin, ensuring him the chance at another top-ten season if he can stay healthy.

As long as he's healthy and doesn't drop-off, McNabb now has the necessary tools to pick defenses apart, while having a one-two punch at running back to help finish the job.

8. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

Too soon? I don't think so.

In his first season, amidst all the controversy of the Brett Favre situation, Rodgers stepped up in a big way, throwing for over 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns.

Rodgers proved to be an exceptional leader, and made enough big plays to suggest that he has a very bright future in Green Bay.

If the defense can get significantly better, Rodgers and his well-groomed offense could guide the Packers to a division crown.

9. Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons

I'm almost tempted to put Matt Ryan here, but it's clear that the Falcons' biggest offensive strength is their rush offense. That is, until we see what the addition of Tony Gonzalez does for Ryan and the rest of the passing game.

Regardless, Turner jumped out on day one with a huge 220-yard game, as well as three touchdowns. He brought in consistent production the rest of the way, as he ran for 1,699 yards and 17 touchdowns.

He could have arguably been the MVP last season, but if he can repeat his 2008 success, he'd be a strong candidate.

10. DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina Panthers

After piecing together a wonderful season as the lead back, Williams is looking forward to 2009 as his "2008 wasn't a fluke" proof.

Williams is a great back with excellent speed and quickness, and also possesses fantastic vision in the open field.

He does share carries with Jonathan Stewart, another impressive back, so getting back to 1,500 yards and 18 scores.

(Philip Rivers, Tony Romo, LaDainian Tomlinson, Chris Johnson, and Clinton Portis were also considered for this list.)