Now that every team has had a bye week and playoff pictures are beginning to form, the MVP race is sure to get tight.
When thinking about who would make list this week, I kept coming back to the thought of players like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady being legendary, therefore being atop any MVP lists.
While those two players did make this week’s list, there are other factors that separate them.
NFL MVP candidates
1) Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts (stock: SAME, last week: #1)
- 248/386 (64.2%), 2,663 yards, 16 TD, 4 INT
- After a close road loss to the Eagles, Manning led his team to a 23-16 victory over the Bengals. Manning didn’t throw a touchdown in that game, but he didn’t throw an interception either.
- Manning continues to lead his team with an insufficient run game, Reggie Wayne and Jacob Tamme.
- Most of all, he won. Often stats blind us, as we forget about winning games being the sole objective. Manning knows how to win as much as any person in football right now.
2) Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers (stock: SAME, last week: #2)
- 215/329 yards (65.3%), 2,944 yards, 19 TD, 8 INT
- Like Manning, Rivers’ running backs have been injured for most of this season, as are his receivers. Still, Rivers leads the league in passing by well over 100 yards, despite not playing in week 10.
- Although he’s the only candidate on this list with a losing record (4-5), it’s not because of him.
- What’s the mark of a great player? A great player is someone who makes other players great. Seyi Ajirotutu isn’t great, but thanks to Rivers, he had a great week 9 (4 receptions, 111 yards, 2 TD).
3) Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles (stock: UP, last week: NR)
- 96/153 (62.7%), 1,350 yards, 11 TD, 0 INT; 44 rushes, 341 yards, 4 TD
- A quarterback who is averaging 7.8 yards per rush, leads the league in QB rating and has yet to throw an interception, while coming back from a rib injury, instantly gets on this list.
- As a comparison, here is stat line of the man Vick was “competing” with (Kevin Kolb): 97/153 (63.3%), 1,035 yards, 6 TD, 4 INT, 85.3 QB rating; 11 rushes, 56 yards
- Because of Vick’s incredible performance on Monday night, the Eagles are tied for 1st place in the NFC East, with the Giants (also 6-3). The Giants play @ the Eagles this Sunday night.
- Finally, is there any doubt the Vick is the best athlete in the NFL since Deion Sanders? Not in my book.
4) Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots (stock: UP, last week: NR)
- 196/304 (64.5%), 2,176 yards, 17 TD, 4 INT
- The reason players like Brady and Manning are on this list this year and seemingly every year is because they know when to take chances and when to scale it back. In other words, they can strike quickly, but can also control the clock as much as they need to.
- The way Brady carved up Pittsburgh’s secondary last Sunday night was very impressive, even for him. Three touchdowns and no interceptions against the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Think about that.
- Brady and the Patriots are now 7-2, and technically the top team in the NFL (AFC: Patriots beat the Jets (7-2), NFC: Falcons (7-2) lost to the Steelers, who the Patriots just beat).
- So why isn’t he ranked higher on this list? One reason: pass blocking. Brady benefits from the best pass blocking line I can remember. Again, in Pittsburgh against that defense, Brady only got hit twice (not sacked, not knocked down…hit). Maybe the New England offensive line should get some consideration. No, seriously, they should.
5) Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons (stock: UP, last week: NR)
- 70 receptions, 934 yards, 7 TD
- White is breaking away as the best receiver in the league, at least after last week’s performance versus the Ravens, as he caught the game-winning touchdown with 20 seconds remaining.
- White is seven receptions (Reggie Wayne, 63) and 100 yards (Terrell Owens, 834) in front of the next closest receiver. And again, his team is winning.
- White was questionable before Thursdays game. If posting 12 receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns is questionable, I’m afraid to see what he’s like when he’s healthy.
Defensive Player of the Year
1) Clay Matthews, OLB, Green Bay Packers (Stock: SAME)
- 31 tackles (28 solo), 10.5 sacks*, 3 pd, 1 ff, 1 INT (62 return yards), 1 TD
- Last week: BYE
- The Packers had a BYE in Week 10, which is probably good for Matthews, who is nursing a shin injury. Matthews’ 10.5 sacks still leads the league through week 10.
- The Packers play the Vikings this Sunday which will be a big game for both teams. Look for Matthews to be putting a lot pressure on Brett Favre.
2) James Harrison, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers (Stock: SAME)
- 64 tackles (46 solo), 7 sacks, 4 pd, 1 INT, 4 FF, 1 fumble recovery
- Last week: vs. Patriots (9 tackles (6 solo))
- Although the Steelers lost at home, Harrison still played a tough game, racking up nine tackles (six solo and three assists).
- Although there was no stand out game from any of the defensive player of the year candidates, Harrison did play a consistent, solid game (like he usually does).
3) Osi Umenyiora, DE, New York Giants (Stock: UP)
- 26 tackles (20 solo), 9 sacks, 2 pd, 7 FF*
- Last Game: vs. Cowboys (5 tackles (3 solo), 1pd, 1 sack)
- The Giants did fall to the Dallas Cowboys, 33-20, despite Umenyiora having a very good game. As we all know one guy can’t win the whole game, it is a team effort. But Umenyiora was fighting the whole game, trying to keep his team in it.
- Umenyiora had the best week out of the DPOY candidates and it has landed him in the top 3.
4) DeAngelo Hall, CB, Washington Redskins (Stock: DOWN)
- 71 tackles (46 solo), 10 pd, 6 INT*, 92 return yards, 1 TD, 1 ff
- Last Game: vs. Eagles (8 tackles (5 solo), 1 pd)
- Although Hall leads the NFL with six interceptions, Michael Vick wreaked havoc on the Washington secondary on Monday night (Hall included). Vick threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns, not to mention eight rushes for 80 yards and two rushing touchdowns.
- Hall made a few tackles in this game and defended one pass, that’s about it. For now he has fallen out of the top 3.
5) Nadamukong Suh, DT, Detroit Lions (Stock: UP)
- 33 tackles (26 solo), 6.5 sacks, 2 pd, 1 INT, 20 return yards, 1 fumble recovery, 1 TD
- Last Game: @ Bills (3 tackles (1 solo))
- Suh didn’t have a huge game last week, but his numbers speak for themselves. Suh has been monster DT for the Detroit Lions as a rookie this season (second overall draft pick in 2010 NFL draft).
- This kid is already making some noise in the DPOY watch and has been causing problems for offensive lines all year. Keep an eye out for this guy; he’s a very exciting player to watch.
*denotes a league leading statistic
Other Players considered:
- Cameron Wake, OLB, Miami Dolphins
- Michael Griffin, FS, Tennessee Titans
- Jerod Mayo, MLB, New England Patriots
- Aqib Talib, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Kerry Rhodes, FS, Arizona Cardinals
Stay tuned for an exciting week 11. There is a lot of great match ups slated for this week and the playoff picture is really starting to take shape. Defensive player of the year is an open race being lead by OLB Clay Matthews. Can anyone catch him? I guess we’ll find out.
Rob chose two defensive linemen, two linebackers and one defensive back.
I chose four quarterbacks and one wide receiver.
Who has the best chance to improve their stock in week 11? My guess is Roddy White (@ STL) & James Harrison (vs. OAK).
Thanks for reading.