Peyton Manning will win the NFL’s MVP this season. His 51 touchdowns alone will ensure that happens, and there’s a good chance that he’ll win the award unanimously.
That would be only the second time in NFL history it has happened (the first being Tom Brady in 2010).
However, despite Manning’s obviously dominance this season, there’s been some strong MVP-calibre performances from other players who deserve to be highlighted.
Let’s take a look at some of the most deserving candidates.
LeSean McCoy – RB – Philadelphia Eagles
McCoy has arguably been the most important factor in the Eagles’ improbable rise in the NFC East.
His 2012 total combined yards this season is good for best in the league, largely thanks his standout 217-yard rushing effort against the Detroit Lions in Week 15 (a team record) and 184-yard performance in Week 1 against the Washington Redskins.
His burst and ridiculously quick cuts routinely breaks ankles, and his solid hands (536 yards on 51 catches this year) makes him dangerous on every down.
McCoy has been one of the most consistently great running backs in the league over the past three years, but this year should see him labelled as its best.
Josh Gordon – WR – Cleveland Browns
Has any receiver ever done so much with so little?
Despite missing the first two weeks of the NFL season with suspension, Gordon is the leading wide receiver with 80 catches for 1564 yards and nine touchdowns. He is also the first player in NFL history to have consecutive 200-yard receiving games.
This season saw him average 19.6 yards per catch (best in the league), despite having the likes of Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer throwing him the ball.
Given the fact that he was almost traded early in the season, Browns fans should consider themselves lucky that they managed to hang on to the most explosive receiver in the league.
Nick Foles – quarterback – Philadelphia Eagles
Nobody saw Foles coming.
After all agreed that veteran quarterback Michael Vick would be a better fit in Chip Kelly’s offensive system, Foles took ahold of the Eagles’ quarterback role and never let go six games into the season.
His 25 touchdowns and two interceptions is the best ratio in the league, along with his 118.8 quarterback rating.
His standout effort, a 406-yard 7-touchdown performance against the Oakland Raiders, helped the Eagles post an 8-2 record while he was at the helm.
By helping his new head coach take the worst team in the division and turn it into a playoff contender, Foles deserves recognition.
Robert Quinn – DE – St. Louis Rams
It’s close, but Quinn just edges out Robert Mathis and J.J. Watt as MVP candidates from the defensive side of the ball.
Despite the Rams being a losing team, Quinn has turned that defence into a monster in the second half of the season, helping his team win four of their last six games and accounting for six of his 18 sacks during that period.
Those games included wins over the Colts, Bears and Saints.
It’s rare for a pass-rusher to have such an impact on a team’s fortunes, but Quinn has certainly done that in his third season with the Rams.
Other potential MVP candidates
Jamaal Charles, Philip Rivers, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson Calvin Johnson, Vontaze Burfict, J.J. Watt.
Let’s be clear, big-brother Manning will easily take this season’s regular-season MVP. He has the numbers and the wins required to easily justify the pick.
But it’s fun to speculate, and the above players certainly deserve to be considered for the honour.
What do you think, Roarers? Which players do you think are NFL MVP candidates?
Dominic is a US sports editor and writer based in Maryland, USA. You can follow him on Twitter @AussieAudible.