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Last year Peyton Manning was awarded with his 5th Most Valuable Player trophy. He was head and shoulders above everyone else. Manning received all but one vote because he had what is widely considered to be the best season ever. He finished the season with 55 touchdown passes, 5,477 passing yards, and the Broncos scored 606 points, all of which broke previous records.

This year is completely different in terms of the MVP race. There is no one player that drastically stands out above the rest. There are however five candidates that are all having tremendous seasons: Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray.

But who really should win the coveted award?

J.J. Watt is a defensive beast that has a never-ending motor. Watt is without a doubt the most valuable defensive player in the league. He possesses all of the intangibles: the football IQ, the leadership, off the field behavior, a level head etc. Watt would make any coach’s job a lot easier. The Texans struck gold when the drafted Watt 11th overall in the 2011 draft. According to article, J.J. Watt has 118 tackles for a loss since entering the league, the next highest total is Von Miller with 91. Watt has been a beast this season in particular. While constantly facing double and even triple teams, yet he has still managed to tally 16.5 sacks on the year. That’s only half a sack away from the league leaders. Watt leads the league with 10 batted balls. Watt has forced three fumbles, recovered five and even returned one for a touchdown. Watt also has one interception, which he returned 80 yards for a touchdown. J.J. Watt has added an extra layer to his game this year. He has lined up as a tight end in goal line formation. Watt has three receptions all of which resulted in touchdowns.

Opposing teams are forced to game plan specifically around J.J. Watt. Even with that, he still manages to make a difference in the game. Watt is the team’s leader. He carries the team. This team went 2-14 last year and this year they currently sit at 7-7. It is a tough sell if the Texans don’t make the playoffs but the team hasn’t made any real roster changes from last year to this year and haven’t been getting anything from the first overall draft pick Jadeveon Clowney. The big difference in the team from last year to this year is the defense, which is led by Watt. The Texans offense is not very good. The team started off with Ryan Fitzpatrick but then he got hurt, Ryan Mallett then went down and last week rookie QB Tom Savage went down as well. None of these quarterbacks should be starting on any NFL team and the fact that they are .500 is a test to how good the defense is.

The 2011 MVP winner was Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. That year, following the Packers’ Super Bowl win the year before, led the team to a 15-1 record. Rodgers finished the season with 4,643 yards passing yards and 45 touchdown passes. The former Cal standout is on pace for 4,385 yards and 40 touchdowns. His current stats are good enough for seventh and third respectively in the league. The stat that truly separates Aaron Rodgers from the rest of the league is the fact that he’s only thrown 5 interceptions. Thirty-three quarterbacks have thrown more than him. The Eagles, Buccaneers, and Titans have multiple quarterbacks with over five INTs individually. In comparison to his counterparts, Manning has thrown 11 interceptions and Brady 8.


Aaron Rodgers 2013 season did not go the way he would have liked. He led the Packers to a record of 5-2 in the first seven games. Rodgers broke his collarbone during week 9 of the regular season. Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien, and Matt Flynn all filled in for him while he recovered. The three backups led the Packers to a dismal record of 2-5-1. Rodgers came back for the last game of the season, got a win, which earned them a playoff spot. The difference he makes is just astronomical. In terms of the other candidates, Houston isn’t a playoff team with or without Watt, the Broncos were in the playoffs the year before Manning got there, and when Brady tore his ACL in 2008, the Pats won 11 games with Matt Cassel at quarterback.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has already been crowned MVP twice, in 2007 and 2010.  The 2007 season was the historic 18-1 season that ended in heartbreak following the David Tyree helmet catch in the Super Bowl against the Giants. He threw for 4,806 yards and 50 touchdowns that season. In 2010, the Patriots went 14-2 and earned the top stop in the AFC before losing in the Divisional Round. Brady threw for 3,900 and 36 touchdowns that season. The stat from the 2010 season that stands out is that he threw only four interceptions, that’s a 9-1 TD-INT ratio, which could suggest Rodgers actually gets the nod.


This year Tom Brady has started the year off slowly. He threw for one touchdown in each of the first four games. Brady has thrown at least two TDs in every game since week 5. In those games from week 5 on, the Pats have won nine of ten. Brady has led his team to a great season so far. New England has beaten four teams that currently lead their division. Brady has led the Pats to some key difficult victories. In terms of Brady’s stats, he’s currently on pace for 4,397 passing yards and 37 touchdown passes. These numbers seem a little low in comparison to the other quarterbacks in MVP contention, but that could be credited to his slow start.

When looking at whom Brady has to pass to his stats look better. The Pats leading receiver is tight end Rob Gronkowski who has 76 receptions for 1,093 yards and 11 touchdown receptions. Slot receiver Julian Edelman has 96 receptions for 972 yards and 4 touchdowns. Brandon LaFell, who signed with the team during the offseason, has 63 receptions for 819 yards and 7 touchdowns. The Pats are the only team to have three players in the top 30 for receiving yards on the season. Gronk is without a doubt the best tight end in the league, but Edelman and LaFell are average at best. The fact that these players are having such good seasons can be credited towards Brady. He doesn’t need top tier receivers like Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb.

Peyton Manning has won the MVP award 5 times, more than any other player who has played in the league. Manning won it last year. His season was just incredible. There was absolutely no way he could repeat his numbers from last year. Manning is currently on pace to throw for 4,735 yards and 42 touchdown passes. In the 2013 season, the former Colt had over 700 more passing yards and 13 more touchdown passes than he’s projected to this year. But Manning is on pace to pass both of his totals from the 2012 season, his first year on the Denver Broncos.


Peyton Manning’s stats have been so high in the past because the Broncos never could steady their run game. Manning is such a dangerous threat, the teams regularly played back giving up the run and now C.J. Anderson is taking advantage of that. Anderson is the Broncos newest running back. The team seems to have a revolving door at the position. C.J. Anderson has played well recently. In the past four games, when he began receiving most of the carries, he has gotten at least 20 carries in each game. He’s averaging 119.5 yards in those games and has gotten into the endzone 4 times. In these games, it has taken a lot of the pressure off of Manning. During those last four games, Manning has averaged only 210.5 passing yards and has thrown 7 touchdown passes, but four of which came in one game. So now that the Broncos’ run game has played well, the team isn’t depending on Manning to put up MVP numbers.

Cowboys’ running back DeMarco Murray has been the best back in the league this season and it isn’t even close. Through 14 games, he has rushed for 1,687 yards. In comparison, from 2007-2013, there have only been four backs that have eclipsed Murray’s 1,687 rushing yards in a whole 16 game season. He is on pace to rush for 1,928 yards. If he were to finish the season with that number of yards, it would be the fourth highest single season rushing total since the turn of the century. Murray is having an incredible year.


DeMarco Murray’s stats this season are head and shoulders above any other running back. He leads the NFL in rushing yards and is 409 yards above Le’Veon Bell who is second. By extension of that, he is averaging 18 yards more a game than any other running back in the league. Murray has gotten in the endzone 11 times, which is one more than Marshawn Lynch who ranks second. Murray has always been a threat coming out of the backfield and catching balls in the flat. He has 54 receptions this season totaling 395 yards. Both are career numbers for him. There is only one downside to Murray. He puts the ball on the ground. Murray has fumbled 5 times, three while rushing it and two following receptions. The Cowboys’ offense has not recovered any of them. Murray also had hand surgery this week so he is questionable for their game against Indianapolis this week.

All five of these players are having great seasons and deserve to be named MVP.J.J. Watt has proven to be the best defensive player in years, and has drawn comparisons to the great Reggie White. It takes a special type of defensive player to even enter the conversation for MVP, but he probably won’t win it because the Texans won’t be in the playoffs. DeMarco Murray deserves an award for being the best running back in the season, but he probably won’t win the MVP award either. The quarterback position is without a doubt the most important position. A team only goes as far as its quarterback can take them. Eighteen of the past twenty-six MVP winners were quarterbacks and realistically it could be nineteen of the past twenty-seven.

Now, according to what I predict, there are three candidates left: Rodgers, Brady and Manning. How can someone differentiate between these three? In my opinion, these are the top three QBs in the league and they are all having great seasons. But, between these three, Brady is having the least statically significant season. Brady is on pace for a similar yard total to Rodgers. But is the only one who is on pace for under 40 touchdown passes. So, even though Tom Brady is having a great season, he’s out of the running.

So now it’s between Manning and Rodgers. Manning has won five MVPs and Rodgers has one already. Manning is the reigning MVP. Manning’s numbers have dropped significantly the past month as the Broncos’ have established a running game. Realistically the Broncos will continue to run the ball in their last two games therefore, Peyton Manning’s numbers will continue to dip. And that’s why the 2014 MVP will be Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers.