For the first time in years, it appears a non-quarterback will win the NFL MVP award. There’s always a chance the QB craze will take over, but this year’s leading candidates are not lining up under center.
The MVP is not necessarily awarded to the league’s best player, but rather the player most valuable to his team. My own criterion includes a winning season (sorry Detroit fans – no matter how hard the Lions try to force feed Calvin Johnson the ball, his presence accounted for 4 wins this season).
MVP: Adrian Peterson RB (Minnesota Vikings)
Four months ago, the football world wondered if Adrian Peterson would be ready to start the season. Many wondered if he’d ever be the same after suffering a torn ACL last Christmas. With two games remaining in what will likely be the flagship season of his hall-of-fame career, Peterson needs 294 yards to break Eric Dickerson’s all-time single season rushing record. He is averaging 6.3 yards per carry, which is the highest average ever (min. 100+ carries). He will also finish the season with the most catches in his career, indicating his role as a complete player.
He’s not exactly surrounded by offensive talent.
Peterson has been extremely productive, despite playing with a below-average quarterback. Need a concluding argument? Peterson has rushed for 31% more yards than the guy behind him. Nobody else in this article has outperformed their peers by that kind of margin.
Runner-Up: JJ Watt DE (Houston Texans)
Unlike others on this list, Watt’s dominance is not evident in statistics alone. He needs 3 sacks in the next 2 games to tie Michael Strahan for the single season sack record (22.5). I’m pretty sure his 15 batted balls at the line of scrimmage is an NFL record for defensive linemen – hence the nickname JJ “S”Watt. If you’ve sat down and watched a Texans game this season, you’ll likely agree that Watt is the most dominant and complete defensive player in the NFL. The fact that the Texans are the #1 seed in the AFC is largely owing to him. It’s plausible that Watt will join DT Alan Page and LB Lawrence Taylor as the only defensive players to ever win the MVP award.
Others in the Hunt:
Tom Brady QB (New England Patriots)
Had the Patriots beat the 49ers on Sunday night, Brady would’ve had a compelling argument. Even though we’ve come to expect this type of season from Brady, you can’t fault him for being consistently great (32 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, a QB Rating of 100, and a probable record of 13-3). It’s another ho-hum, MVP caliber season for Tommy Football. Without Brady, are the Pats even in the playoffs?
Aaron Rodgers QB (Green Bay Packers)
Rodgers leads the NFL in QB Rating (104.7), led the Packers to another division title, and if not for the botched call in Seattle, would be sitting at 10-4. Why would we give it to Rodgers over Brady? Or Manning over Rodgers? The QBs are in somewhat of a dead heat, which increases Peterson’s chances.
Andrew Luck QB (Indianapolis Colts)
Luck doesn’t have the best stats (QB Rating of only 75 and nearly a 1:1 TD to INT ratio). That being said, he’s taken a two win team to 9-5 and all but assured a playoff berth. Don’t fool yourself; the majority of last season’s roster is back. Luck is the major difference, and he’s made mid-late round rookies (T.Y Hilton and Vick Ballard) look like veterans.
Robert Griffin III QB (Washington Redskins)
RG3’s case is similar to Luck’s. He has one less win, but his numbers have been impressive. He has the second highest QB Rating (104.2) and although he hasn’t thrown for a ton of yards, he has 18 TDs (to only 4 INTs) and has rushed for over 600 yards. If the Redskins make the playoffs/win the division, he’ll receive votes.
Peyton Manning QB (Denver Broncos)
Give Peyton the comeback player of the year. He deserves it. I just don’t see the argument for Manning as MVP. For starters, Aaron Rodgers has thrown more TDs and less INTs. Moreover, sportswriting voters can’t justify he’s most valuable to his team.
The same sportswriters made it clear that Tim Tebow was not an NFL QB. Therefore, if the ‘worst’ QB in the NFL can win 8 games and beat the Steelers in round one, why should Manning (with a winning percentage that’s just 17% higher than Tebow) warrant MVP consideration?
Quarterbacks win enough. It’s AP’s time.