After a thrilling week of football, some players who were on the outside of the MVP conversation are now firmly among the league’s best players.
As we strive to bring you the best product possible, this week marks a new wrinkle Fast Football will bring you. Each Wednesday, as I have been, I will be naming my MVP candidates. Only from now on, Rob will be naming the top five defensive player of the year candidates.
Besides, only twice in NFL history has a defensive player won league MVP honors (Lions LB Joe Schmidt (co-MVP w/ Norm Van Brocklin), 1960 & Vikings DL Alan Page, 1971).
When ranking these players, I realized I may be quick to judge, basing too much of my vote on the player’s performance in week 9. However, in a finite, have-to-win-now league like the NFL, that’s what needs to be done.
After all, if you’re trying to determine the best of the best, you’re supposed to be critical.
NFL MVP candidates:
1) Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts (stock: SAME, last week: #1)
- 228/351 (64.9%), 2,478 yards, 16 TD, 4 INT
- Team record: 5-3
- Manning didn’t play his typical style of football in Sunday’s loss to the Eagles, as he threw more interceptions (2) than touchdowns (1). Still, without Dallas Clark and Austin Collie, he nearly led his team to victory on the road.
- And again, if you take Peyton Manning off of the Colts, do they even have one win? Probably not.
2) Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers (stock: UP, last week: #5)
- 215/329 (65.3%), 2,944 yards, 19 TD, 8 INT
- Team record: 4-5
- For weeks, the Chargers had, statistically, the best offense and defense in football, but they weren’t winning games. Now, they’ve won two straight, and are looking the best they have all year.
- Rivers has better numbers than Manning (except for INT), and is on pace to throw for 5,234 yards. However, Manning is the defending league MVP and he has one more win than Rivers.
3) Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans (stock: SAME, last week: #2)
- 157 rushes, 854 yards, 9 TD; 32 receptions, 315 yards, 1 TD
- Team record: 4-4
- Foster is the only consistent threat the Texans have. He leads the league in rushing, and ranks third among running backs in receiving (Jahvid Best, Frank Gore).
- Although his team is 4-4, Foster is definitely doing his part. He has yet to have a let down from his huge week 1 performance vs. the Colts.
4) Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants (stock: SAME, last week: #3)
- 51 receptions, 653 yards, 9 TD
- Team record: 6-2
- The best all-around (statistical) receiver so far this year, Nicks has continued to impress, week in and week out.
- Nicks continually puts up big numbers in relevant situations, as he’s help lead the Giants to a share of the NFL’s best record.
5) Peyton Hillis, RB, Cleveland Browns (stock: UP, last week: NR)
- 133 carries, 644 yards, 7 TD; 30 receptions, 229 yards, 1 TD
- Team record: 3-5
- The knock on Hillis being this high is two-fold: 1) He’s lost three fumbles this year, and 2) his team is 3-5.
- At the same time, he was the main reason the Browns beat the Patriots in week 9 (the Patriots were a league-best 6-1 heading into week 9).
- Hillis also gashed the vaunted Baltimore Ravens defense in week 3 (22 rushes, 144 yards, 1 TD; 7 receptions, 36 yards), nearly leading the Browns to a win in Baltimore.
Roddy White was ranked #4 last week, but only caught four passes for 49 yards. Although White was injured in the first quarter, he’s not immune to dropping out of the top 5.
Defensive Player of the Year candidates:
1) Clay Matthews, OLB, Green Bay Packers (Stock: UP)
- 31 tackles (28 solo), 10.5 sacks*, 3 pd, 1 ff, 1 INT (62 return yards), 1 TD
- The only word I can find to describe Clay Matthews is BEAST. This guy disrupts offenses, he gets pressure on the opposing QB and he’s a flat out play maker. Any team he plays against must make sure they know where Matthews is at all times because the moment you lose him he’s making a play.
- Matthews was Fast Football’s week 9 defensive player of the week and is making a strong case to be our defensive MVP of the 2010 season.
2) DeAngelo Hall, CB, Washington Redskins (Stock: SAME)
- 63 tackles (41 solo), 9 pd, 1 ff, 6 INT*, 92 return yards, 1 TD
- DeAngelo Hall has been having a very strong 2010 season. Even though the Redskins are 4-4, Hall is doing everything he can to stop other teams from scoring, passing or rushing.
- Hall was also Fast Football’s week 7 defensive player of the week with his four interceptions (one was returned for a 92-yard touchdown).
3) James Harrison, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers (Stock: UP)
- 55 tackles (40 solo), 4 pd, 1 INT, 7 sacks, 4 ff, 1 fumble recovery
- James Harrison may have a few fines this year for illegal hits. None the less, this man flies to ball, makes bone-crushing hits and his stats speak for themselves.
- Harrison was the NFL 2008 defensive player of the year and rightfully so. This 2010 season Harrison is looking to win that award again. He proves time and again that he can stop the run and the pass. Harrison is a crucial piece of today’s “steel curtain” if you will, and he is definitely a force to be reckoned with.
4) Osi Umenyiora, DE, New York Giants (Stock: UP)
- 21 tackles (17 solo), 8 sacks, 7 ff*, 1 pd
- Umenyiora has always been a solid defensive end who has a knack for sacking the quarterback and forcing fumbles. In 2008, Umenyiora was out for the season and in 2009 he came back and had a decent year.
- Now in 2010, Umenyiora is back and looks healthier than ever. His eight sacks have him tied for 3rd best in the NFL. His seven forced fumbles lead the league.
5) Michael Griffin, FS, Tennessee Titans (Stock: Down)
- 53 tackles (43 solo), 7 pd, 4 INTs, 50 return yards, 1 ff, 1 fumble recovery
- Griffin is a solid free safety and is playing well this year as the Titans are currently 1st place in the AFC South.
- He does seem to be inconsistent at times though. The Titans had four games where they gave up 300+ passing yards which in those respective games, and won two of them (the Titans offense average 28 points a game; best in the NFL).
*denotes an NFL league leading statistic
Other defensive players considered:
- Cameron Wake, OLB, Miami Dolphins
- Kerry Rhodes, SS, Arizona Cardinals
- Aqib Talib, CB, Tamp Bay Buccaneers
- Nadamukong Suh, DT, Detroit Lions
- Jerod Mayo, ILB, New England Patriots
Seven of our ten MVP candidates are from the AFC. The Giants’ Nicks and Umenyiora are both in the running for the offensive/defensive player of the year award.
Coincidence? I think not.
Thanks for reading.