Matt Ryan wins NFL MVP after a career-defining season

9500011-matt-ryan-nfl-preseason-atlanta-falcons-miami-dolphins-850x560After his first eight seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, quarterback Matt Ryan had forged a reputation as an above-average quarterback who would never manage to break into the elite tier. He obliterated that sentiment this season by setting career bests in passing yards (4,944), passing touchdowns (38), interceptions (7), completion percentage (69.9), yards per attempt (9.3), and quarterback rating (117.1).

By extending his remarkable performance into the postseason, he has the Falcons on the doorstep of their first NFL championship. And on Saturday, Ryan was rewarded by being named the league’s Most Valuable Player, earning 25 of the 50 votes by media members. They were the first MVP votes of his career, and the fewest by a winner since Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander captured the 2005 award with 19 votes.

The other players who received MVP votes this season were Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (10), Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (6), Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (6), Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (2), and Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (1).

Ryan was also named Offensive Player of the Year in an extremely split ballot. For the first time since 2000, eight players received votes (Ryan, 15.5; Rodgers, 11; David Johnson, 8; Brady, 7; Elliott, 5.5; Le’Veon Bell, 1; Carr, 1; Drew Brees, 1).

Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack edged Broncos linebacker Von Miller for Defensive Player of the Year honors (Mack, 18; Miller, 17; Landon Collins, 9; Aaron Donald, 3; Sean Lee, 2; Eric Berry, 1) after recording 11 sacks and forcing five fumbles for an Oakland team that made its first playoff appearance since 2002.

Brady was trying to become the fifth player to earn three MVP awards. He has now received MVP votes in eight seasons, trailing only Peyton Manning (10) in that category. Brady also passed Joe Montana (123) for the third-most MVP votes in NFL history, with 130, and trails Manning (227) and Brett Favre (161).

Ryan and Brady face off in Super Bowl LI tomorrow, and although 14 MVPs have won NFL championships, none have since Kurt Warner led the St. Louis Rams to the title after the 1999 season.

Here are some Associated Press voters’ selections for MVP:

Matt Ryan (25 votes)

Ira Kaufman: “Ryan has been my pick as MVP for a while, and he never faltered in leading Atlanta to the NFC’s No. 2 playoff seed. And to think, a year ago many Falcons fans were ready to move on from Ryan, who was admittedly disappointing in 2015.”

Boomer Esiason: “I voted for him because he had 16 great regular-season games. The numbers are off the charts. He certainly deserves it. I know that Aaron Rodgers had a late-season run. The second half of the season for Aaron was about as good as anybody had. And certainly Tom Brady in the 12 games that he played put up great numbers, especially only two interceptions.”

Jarrett Bell: “Was engine behind NFL’s most prolific offense, getting the edge over Tom Brady because he played the entire 16 games. He distributed the ball so well and significantly reduced his turnovers in producing the best season of his career.”

Mark Craig: “His season was one of the best ever in terms of a quarterback combining efficiency, explosiveness, consistency and success.”

John McClain: “He was the best player in the NFL last season.”

Lindsay Jones: “He was the most consistently great player from Week 1-Week 17.”

Howard Balzer

Tom Brady (10 votes)

Vic Carucci: “The Brady/Patriot haters will be quick to point out the team went 3-1 as he served the silly four-game suspension for #Deflategate. It’s a compelling argument, but it quickly loses steam when you see what Brady has done since his return. Working with new third, fourth, and fifth receivers and without tight end Rob Gronkowski for more than half the season, he managed to post his best completion percentage and passer rating since 2010, when he last was named MVP. He’s 39 years old and playing as well as at any point in a career that has well established him as the greatest quarterback and maybe player at any position in the history of the game. Others have had MVP-like seasons, but no one matches Brady for the overwhelming value he brings every time he steps onto the field.”

Tom Curran: “Brady wasn’t unavailable because he was injured. He wasn’t there because the NFL ran a sham investigation trying to prove something happened. They failed in that so they instead settled for reputation assassination in order to save face. Brady sat four games so the NFL could justify its mistake. And I decided that holding that against Brady would only further validate the NFL’s suspension of him. So I voted for Brady.”

Jenny Vrentas: “This year was a tough choice. But when I went to vote, I thought about the true letter of the award, who is the most valuable player in the NFL to have on your football team, and I couldn’t make an argument that anyone was more valuable to a team having success than Brady.”

Tom Silverstein

Derek Carr (6 votes)

Gary Myers: “He took what has been the most dysfunctional team and won 12 games, the most for the Raiders since 2000. Going into this season, they were 63-145 since their Super Bowl appearance in 2002 and never finished above .500. Ryan has been spectacular but has won two fewer games. Brady has been Brady, which means he’s just adding to his legacy as the best QB of all time. Although he was punished unfairly for Deflategate, he was suspended for one-quarter of the season, which makes it hard to pick him.”

Adam Schein: “No player in the NFL was more responsible for his team’s achievement — and overachievement — this year than Carr. His numbers (28 touchdowns against just six picks, with 3,937 passing yards) were excellent, though he was clearly outpaced by other quarterbacks. But Carr’s year wasn’t about stats. It was about value. It was about fourth-quarter play and carrying the Raiders to 12 wins. If you watched the games, you know Ryan and Brady were arguably more dominant. Rodgers’ final six weeks were dreamy and iconic. Zeke gave the Cowboys’ offense and defense a huge lift, leading Dallas to the No. 1 seed. But Carr meant everything to a Raiders team that was in major need of a great player and leadership at quarterback.”

Ronald Borges: “I voted for Derek Carr because I am a strict constructionist when it comes to MVP. To me it means not the best player or the one who had the best season but the one most valuable to his team. Brady gets the nod if its simply best player/player of the year. But team went 3-1 without him. That is why I voted for Derek Carr. At time of his injury I said Raiders would not score another TD. They barely did.”

Ezekiel Elliott (6 votes)

Rick Gosselin: “The Cowboys announced they were hitching their wagon to Elliott when they took him with the fourth overall pick of the 2016 draft last April. He was going to be the guy who got the DeMarco Murray workload, which would allow the Cowboys to protect both the health of an aging quarterback (Romo) and a defense that lacked playmakers. His legs became even more important in August when they suddenly became the protector of a young, inexperienced quarterback (Prescott). And Elliott delivered, claiming an NFL rushing title for himself and powering the Cowboys to an NFC East title and top seed in the NFC playoff bracket.”

Charean Williams: “Cowboys went from 4-12 to 13-3. They had best record in the NFC. Either Zeke or Dak deserved it considering Brady missed four games.”

Aaron Rodgers (2 votes)

Bob Glauber

Dak Prescott (1 vote)

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MVP win gives Newton yet another reason to smile

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On the eve of his first Super Bowl appearance, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton received his first MVP award, collecting 48 of the 50 votes by media members. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer each received one vote.

Despite losing no. 1 receiver Kelvin Benjamin to a torn ACL in the preseason, Newton helped carry Carolina to a 15-1 record. He finished with a career-high 35 passing touchdowns, a career-low 10 interceptions, and 3,837 passing yards — the fewest by an MVP quarterback since Steve Young in 1992. Like Young, Newton created additional value on the ground, adding 636 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.

Newton, who had not received an MVP vote before this season, was also named the league’s Offensive Player of the Year. Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt received his third career Defensive Player of the Year award after a 17.5-sack season.

As reported by ProFootballTalk’s Michael David Smith, The Boston Herald’s Ron Borges voted for Palmer and NBC’s Fred Gaudelli voted for Brady. Several Associated Press voters revealed their vote for Newton during the NFL Honors show.

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Debate between Rodgers and Watt defined MVP vote in 2014

Aaron Rodgers earned his second NFL MVP award in 2014 despite a swell of support for J.J. Watt, who received the most votes for a defensive player since Lawrence Taylor won the award in 1986.

With the 2015 NFL season already right around the corner, here’s a look at how the AP voters determined last season’s MVP.

Aaron Rodgers (31 votes)

Tom Pelissero — “Any argument for Watt leans on his ability to keep the Texans in the hunt amidst their quarterback issues. But that’s the problem with voting for him over Rodgers or, in my opinion, several other quarterbacks this season. That position controls everything, and not even the best defensive player of a generation can supersede it. Watt seems to make two or three high-impact plays every game—which is incredible—but the QB has a chance to impact the game every play he’s on the field, both before and after the snap.”

Paul Domowitch — “One of the easier MVP decisions in recent years. His passing numbers and the impact he had on the success of his football team trumped my other considerations — DeMarco Murray and Tom Brady.”

Jenny Vrentas — “I felt like he was the player who made the greatest contribution toward getting his team wins.”

Peter King (0.5 vote) — “Quarterbacks inherently have more value than any position on the field, Rodgers clearly lifted Green Bay all season and particularly through some agony Sunday to win the division and clinch a playoff bye; this season rivals his previous MVP year in 2011 (14-1, 45 touchdowns, six interceptions). He didn’t throw an interception at home all season.”

Jim Corbett

Jarrett Bell

Mark Craig

J.J. Watt (13 votes)

John McClain — “If Rodgers had a record-breaking season like Manning in 2013, I would have voted for him. He was exceptional, of course, but he didn’t have a season for the ages, perhaps the greatest in history at his position. Watt did.”

Steve Cohen — “As I look at every starter in the NFL I see one player who stands alone as the dominant player at his position and that’s why J.J Watt gets my vote for MVP. He also had 32 points—for a defensive player! From his team-inspiring pre-game speeches to his lead by example play on the field for a rebuilding team and a first-year head coach, J.J Watt should be the first defensive player since Lawrence Taylor (1986) to win the league’s MVP.”

Ira Kaufman —  “I thought he had a season for the ages and there’s no way the Texans were a 9-win team, based on the talent around Watt. Rodgers was outstanding, but Watt was a force from Week 1 and never let up, despite a minimal contribution from No. 1 pick Jadeveon Clowney.”

Peter King (0.5 vote) —  “[Watt’s] 20.5 sacks come through more traffic than his pass-rushing peers, because 3-4 ends don’t have the same pass-rushing freedom that 3-4 outside ’backers do. I am bastardizing the word “value,” I understand. But I simply have to recognize one of the great and most unique years an NFL player has ever had, the way it should be.”

Ron Borges

DeMarco Murray (2 votes)

Rick Gosselin — “The commitment to the run and Murray’s legs were the difference between a Cowboys team that was 8-8 in 2013 and one that shared the NFL’s best record one year later.”

Clark Judge — “He single-handedly changed the personality of this team and lifted the pressure from Tony Romo. Result: Dallas wins a division. Who says running backs don’t matter?”

Tony Romo (2 votes)

Charean Williams — “Best season of any QB, the most important position in football. But it’s hard for me to argue against Watt. He was phenomenal. I would bet on Watt to become the third defensive player ever to win the MVP. He is that good.”

Bobby Wagner (1 vote)

Tom Brady (1 vote)

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Peyton Manning captures fifth MVP after record-breaking season, was one vote short of unanimous selection

Manning MVP

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning started the 2013 season with a bang, throwing a record-tying seven touchdown passes in the NFL’s first game of the year. And he never slowed down. Manning received his fifth MVP award from the Associated Press after a season in which he threw for a league-record 5,477 passing yards and 55 passing touchdowns while leading Denver to the no. 1 seed in the AFC.

Manning received 49 of the 50 votes, with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady earning one vote. The Denver Post reported that Sirius XM’s Jim Miller — who, as far as my records go, is in his first year of voting — selected Brady. Brady remains the only player to be unanimously named the MVP, in 2010. Brady received 49 votes in 2007 (one vote for Brett Favre) and Manning received 49 votes in 2007 (one vote for Michael Vick).

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Oddsmakers Give Peyton Manning the Preseason Edge for 2013 MVP

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Peyton Manning edged Aaron Rodgers as the favorite for the 2013 NFL MVP award, according to Sportsbook Bovada’s recently released odds. Quarterbacks predictably take nine of the top 10 spots, only making room for Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who took home the 2012 award after rushing for more than 2,000 yards.

For my money, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (15/1), Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (33/1) and Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (66/1) have the most intriguing odds.

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning: 5/1
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers: 13/2
49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick: 10/1
Saints quarterback Drew Brees: 10/1
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson: 12/1
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady: 12/1
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan: 15/1
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III: 18/1
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson: 18/1
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck: 25/1
Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson: 25/1
Giants quarterback Eli Manning: 25/1
Texans running back Arian Foster: 33/1
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger: 33/1
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton: 33/1
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford: 33/1
Eagles quarterback Michael Vick: 33/1
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo: 33/1
Texans quarterback Matt Schaub: 40/1
Texans defensive end J.J. Watt: 40/1
Titans running back Chris Johnson: 50/1
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco: 50/1
Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch: 50/1
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers: 50/1
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler: 66/1
Ravens running back Ray Rice: 66/1
Redskins running back Alfred Morris: 66/1
Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles: 66/1
Bears running back Matt Forte: 66/1
Falcons running back Steven Jackson: 66/1
Buccaneers running back Doug Martin: 66/1
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton: 75/1
Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith: 75/1
Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman: 75/1
Rams quarterback Sam Bradford: 75/1
Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson: 100/1
Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall: 100/1
Lions running back Reggie Bush: 150/1

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Vikings running back Adrian Peterson wins 2012 NFL MVP after historic year

Adrian Peterson broke the 2,000-yard rushing mark and became the first non-quarterback to win the MVP since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006.

[Editor’s note: Adrian Peterson received 30.5 votes to win the 2012 NFL MVP. Peyton Manning received the other 19.5 votes.]

The 2012 NFL MVP is revealed tonight at an award ceremony, and after compiling public statements by the 50 Associated Press voters, I’m comfortable calling the race. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson will beat Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning to take home his first MVP award.

With half of the votes recorded, Peterson (18.5 votes) holds a strong advantage over Manning (6.5 votes), who will fall short of his fifth MVP. Peterson only needs seven of the remaining 25 votes to clinch the award.

Peterson became the seventh player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards, falling nine yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson’s NFL record one season after a significant knee injury. Peterson carried the 10-6 Vikings to the playoffs, finishing with 2,097 yards on 348 attempts (6.0 avg.) for 12 touchdowns along with 40 receptions for 217 yards and one touchdown.

Manning threw for 4,659 yards with 37 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a league-best 68.6 percent completion percentage for the second-highest QB rating (105.8) in his career. After not playing in 2011 because of a neck injury, Manning led the Broncos to a 13-3 record in his first season with the team.

There’s an outside chance another player — like Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson or Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers — could receive a rogue vote.

Adrian Peterson (30.5 votes)

Clark Judge — “Without him, the Vikings don’t just make the playoffs; they don’t make it to .500.”

Peter King — “The Vikings without Peterson would have been toast by Thanksgiving, Halloween maybe.”

Don Banks — “The season Peterson just turned in was singular, special and as valuable as they come.”

Charean Williams — “The Vikings went 5-2 in their last seven games to earn a playoff berth. In that seven-game stretch, Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder passed for 1,129 yards with eight touchdowns and four interceptions. Peterson ran for 1,140 yards with seven total touchdowns.”

Ashley Fox — “It might be the single greatest season-long individual performance in NFL history. On a reconstructed knee with every defense knowing he is going to carry the ball because quarterback Christian Ponder is not much of a threat and Percy Harvin has been out since midseason, Peterson has put up monster numbers.”

Paul Domowitch — “He’s managed to run away with the league rushing title and challenge Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record and keep the Vikings in the playoff hunt not only with a surgically repaired left knee, but a one-dimensional offense that has Christian Ponder at quarterback.”

Mark Gaughan — “Peterson finished with the second most rushing yards and the eighth most scrimmage yards in NFL history. That was despite rehabilitating from major knee surgery all offseason. And despite the fact Minnesota’s passing game was 31st in the NFL. And despite the fact his offensive line is decent but far from great.”

Ira Kaufman — “With opposing defenses loading the box and daring mediocre QB Christian Ponder to make them pay, Peterson came within nine yards of toppling Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson as the league’s single-season rushing champion. By the time Peterson stopped dodging tacklers, Minnesota had secured 10 wins and the NFC’s final playoff slot.”

Tom Curran – “You have to have an incredible season to unseat a quarterback … I think Adrian Peterson has had a historic one, and he needs to be recognized for that.”

Alex Marvez — “If the Vikings reach the playoffs, Peterson will likely get my vote.”

Rich Gannon — “I looked at the fact the Vikings aren’t very good in the passing game and they didn’t have Percy Harvin (down the stretch). I looked at how he was able to shoulder the load and carry that football team. I don’t think many people thought they’d make the playoffs.”

Adam Schein — “Adam and Rich actually have MVP votes, unlike the rest of our esteemed panel, and they are going with Adrian “All Day” Peterson.”

Paul Gutierrez — “What separated Peterson, though, was just how valuable he was to the Vikings. He WAS the Vikings. Consider, Minnesota had the 31st-ranked passing attack in the NFL under Christian Ponder, so opponents absolutely knew the Vikings were going to run the ball and could flood the box.”

Cris Collinsworth

Peyton Manning (19.5 votes)

Pete Prisco — “Coming back from an injury that could have ended his career to do what he did is amazing.”

Hub Arkush — “He has taken the Broncos from afterthought to legitimate Super Bowl contender, and as great as Peterson has been — in fact, he has had the better individual season — the Vikings just aren’t a Super Bowl threat.”

Boomer Esiason — “Peyton Manning, there’s no question in my eyes.”

John Lynch — “I felt the day Peyton walked in the building the secretaries were better because Peyton Manning was there.”

Pat Kirwan

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SportsNation casts vote for Peterson

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ESPN asked. America answered.

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson received a majority of the fans’ NFL MVP vote (51 percent), beating Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (33 percent) and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (10 percent) by a wide margin.

It’s always revealing to see fan biases by state. Peterson won most states across the country while Brady predictably swept New England. Manning understandably won Colorado, Wyoming and Utah but also Indiana (where he led the Colts) and Tennessee (where he led the Volunteers).

“Someone else” received 6 percent of the vote, with certain states polling higher.

  • Wisconsin, 17 percent: Presumably for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers
  • Georgia, 16 percent: Presumably for Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan
  • Washington, 11 percent: Presumably for Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch
  • Texas, 10 percent: Presumably for Texans defensive end J.J. Watt

And in unrelated news, MVP voter Peter King has narrowed his ballot.

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