The NFL season is starting to take shape with teams now being eliminated from playoff contention and others getting close to securing their place in the postseason.
Dave Gray has a look at some of the contenders for the award of this season’s most valuable player (MVP).
Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers quarterback
From week four onwards the Packers have averaged over 39 points a game. In that span Rodgers has thrown 23 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He currently has a 120.1 passer rating for the season, just 2.4 short of his own record for a single season that he set in 2011 when he was named NFL MVP for the first time.
Rodgers form has helped propel the Packers to 7-3 and among the favourites to win the Super Bowl. If Rodgers’ form continues then he has to be the leading contender to win a second MVP award and perhaps a second Super Bowl ring.
J.J. Watt – Houston Texans defensive end
Watt is one of the most dominant defensive players that the game has ever seen. With six games to play he already has 28 quarterback hits, more than any player managed throughout the entire 2013 season. Add to that four touchdowns including two as a receiver and Watt’s season could go down as one of the best ever.
There have only ever been two defensive players that have been named MVP, the last being Lawrence Taylor in 1986. Watt has as good a chance as anybody to break that 28 year streak.
Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots tight end
Gronkowski came into the season still recovering from an injury that finished his 2013 season early when he tore his MCL and ACL. Gronkowski only played on a limited basis in the first four games and the Patriots struggled to a record of 2-2. Since then, however, the Patriots have won six in a row and look likely to be the number one seed in the playoffs, due largely to the performances of Gronk.
There is an argument that Tom Brady should be on this list ahead of Gronkowski, but without Gronkowski the Patriots are a fairly average team. With him they are one of the favourites to go on and win the Super Bowl this year. There isn’t a single player that makes more of a difference to his team than Rob Gronkowski.
Peyton Manning – Denver Broncos quarterback
Manning is the reigning MVP and has a strong case to receive his second in a row and sixth overall this year. He is on pace to throw for 5282 yards and 48 touchdowns, only slightly below his incredible numbers from 2013. Earlier this season Manning became the leading touchdown scorer of all time as he passed Brett Favre’s total of 508. However, recent performances including six interceptions in his past three games have seen him fall behind some of the other contenders for the award.
DeMarco Murray – Dallas Cowboys running back
The Cowboys were considered by most people as one of the worst teams in the league coming into the season and a genuine contender for the number one pick in next season’s draft. But 10 games into the season they find themselves at 7-3 with a great chance to make the playoffs. A big part of this is down to Murray’s fantastic start to the season. He is the first player in NFL history to start the season with eight consecutive games with at least 100 yards rushing. Murray is averaging 123 yards a game on the ground and is on pace to finish the season with 1968 yards. The Cowboys and Murray himself will be hoping that he can finish the season well and become just the eighth player to break the 2000 yard barrier for a season.