Tag Archives: Ndamukong Suh

MVP = Most Very Predictable?

Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick was the digital MVP in a simulation for "Madden 12."

The NFL’s MVP race is as predictable as Mel Kiper Jr.’s hairstyle — which quarterback on a playoff team threw for 30-plus touchdowns and 4,000-plus yards while avoiding interceptions? But regardless of the result, it’s definitely a fluid process. Eagles quarterback Michael Vick was considered a legitimate candidate most of 2010 before Patriots quarterback Tom Brady became the award’s first unanimous winner.I’ll focus on compiling the mainstream media’s thoughts on MVP candidates this season — ESPN.com’s Mike Sando posted his always insightful preseason MVP Watch today — but other blogs may spark other ideas worth considering.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at the top five traditional candidates and top five darkhorse candidates (in alphabetical order) for the 2011 MVP award. Because of Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning’s injury, it’s worth noting Brady is the only potential repeat winner unless Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson discovered the Fountain of Youth during the lockout.

TRADITIONAL CANDIDATES

Tom Brady, Patriots quarterback
MVP votes:
 Won in 2010, 2007; finished third in 2005, 2003

Brady has shown the ability to thrive with star receivers (Randy Moss and Wes Welker in 2007), dynamic tight ends (Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski in 2010) and a motley crew (Deion Branch, David Givens and Troy Brown in 2005). It doesn’t hurt that the Patriots could conceivably win 14 games again.

Drew Brees, Saints quarterback
MVP votes: Finished second in 2009, 2006

Brees is a superb candidate because he throws the ball a lot — breaking the 600-attempt barrier three times — and pretty efficiently, too. He is one of only two quarterbacks to throw for 5,000 yards (joining Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino) and is tied for the lead in completion percentage (70.6 percent with Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson).

Philip Rivers, Chargers quarterback
MVP votes: Finished third in 2009, sixth in 2008

Since Tomlinson signed with the Jets in free agency, the Chargers’ offense has revolved around the deep passing game — Rivers led the league in pass yards per attempt the past three seasons. But the Chargers’ underwhelming performances in 2010 (9-7) and 2008 (8-8) make it difficult for voters to select Rivers when quarterbacks with comparable statistics are leading dominant teams.

Aaron Rodgers, Packers quarterback
MVP votes: None

Rodgers certainly has compiled the stats worthy of garnering votes, but the Packers haven’t been awe-inspiring (6-10, 11-5, and 10-6 records) during his three seasons as a starter. He’s firmly in the national spotlight, however, after winning Super Bowl XLV and unoficially joining the group of elite quarterbacks.

Michael Vick, Eagles quarterback
MVP votes: Finished second in 2004, fifth in 2002

Vick wins in EA Sports’ annual “Madden 12” simulation, where he is projected to lead the Eagles to the NFC East title while throwing for career-highs in yards (3,876) and touchdowns (29) and making contributions on the ground. That’s where Vick can impress voters — he has unparalleled physical ability to turn negative plays into positive ones that show up on “SportsCenter.”

DARKHORSE CANDIDATES

Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals wide receiver
MVP votes: None

Wide receivers rarely receive MVP votes, but Fitzgerald has a quarterback (Kevin Kolb, whom Vick usurped in Philadelphia) talented enough to get him the ball but not dominant enough to attract votes. In his physical prime, Fitzgerald has the potential — he’s averaged 87 receptions for 1,172 yards and nine touchdowns — to pile up head-turning statistics in the miserable NFC West.

Antonio Gates, Chargers tight end
MVP votes: None

Gates would truly be an upset because only three tight ends have received MVP votes — Mark Bavaro in 1986, Kellen Winslow in 1981 and John Mackey in 1968 and 1966 — but he could put up huge numbers. And it would be hard to ignore the leading receiver on the league’s most explosive offense if everything falls into place for Gates, who has scored at least eight touchdowns the past seven seasons.

Chris Johnson, Titans running back
MVP votes: Finished sixth in 2008

Although there are several running backs with MVP potential, Johnson is the most explosive option in the running and passing game (think Marshall Faulk in his prime) and is the centerpiece of his offense. An anemic passing offense forces the Titans to rely on Johnson, who has averaged 5.0 yards per carry in his career and piled up 2,509 yards from scrimmage two seasons ago.

Ndamukong Suh, Lions defensive tackle
MVP votes: None

Suh terrorized offensive lines as a rookie, running away with the Defensive Rookie of the Year award after compiling 48 tackles, 10 sacks and one interception. He could be more dominant with the addition of defensive tackle Nick Fairley, Detroit’s first-round draft pick. And Suh has crashed award voting before, finishing fourth in the Heisman Trophy balloting as a Nebraska senior.

DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys linebacker
MVP votes: None

Ware flirted with Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record (22.5) in 2008 with 20 sacks and would certainly draw attention if he breaks the mark. Even if he only gets close, Ware could sway voters with more highlight-reel plays — he has 25 forced fumbles but only one career interception — for America’s Team, which ties the NFL high with five primetime games this season.

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