As the NFL’s regular season draws to a close, a handful of teams will continue to scrap and claw for the final few playoff spots, while those who have clinched will simply jockey for position and first-round byes. The elevated level of competition definitely makes the final couple weeks of December exciting for the fans and the teams vying for a shot at a title, but individual players also have awards to play for and the most coveted of those is unquestionably the NFL MVP.
While Peyton Manning is undoubtedly the frontrunner for the 2013 Most Valuable Player award, there are several other candidates worthy of consideration. In fact, there are four players we think could snag the trophy away from him. Here are our top five candidates (including Manning) for the 2013 NFL MVP award:
Despite posting three 1,000-yard rushing seasons in his career, LeSean McCoy is one Eagle who seems to continually fly under the radar. However, going unnoticed will be harder for McCoy to do this season, considering he’s leading the league in rushing with 1,343 yards entering week 16. His career-high 217-yard performance in nearly six inches of snow against the Lions in week 14 certainly caught our attention.
As a rusher, McCoy has been electrifying in 2013, but as a receiver, he’s been just as valuable to the Philadelphia Eagles offense, nabbing 45 catches for 507 yards on the season. His dynamic skill set has always been integral to the efficiency of the Eagles, but it’s never been on display more than as part of Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offensive system.
McCoy may have been overlooked in the past when the Eagles were struggling, but with the team sitting atop the NFC East standings at 8-6, this could be McCoy’s year to make a serious run at the MVP award.
Unlike McCoy, Drew Brees seems to be in the MVP conversation every year and as a two-time winner of the NFL Offensive Player of the Year award (2008, 2011), he knows what it takes to bring home the hardware.
Of course, what it takes are great numbers and a strong team. Once again, Brees has both this season, as his New Orleans Saints are currently 10-4, thanks in large part to his 4,500 passing yards (second in NFL) and 34 touchdowns (also second in NFL). He has also thrown just 10 interceptions this season – the fewest he’s tossed since 2009 (11).
His impressive statistics aside, Brees’ value to his team is really what gives him a solid chance at winning his first Most Valuable Player award. Few would argue that if you were to remove Brees from the Saints, they simply wouldn’t be the same deadly scoring machine.
Amazingly, no wide receiver has ever won the NFL’s MVP since the inception of the award in 1957, but if there was one pass-catcher we could choose to become the first it would be Calvin Johnson. Statistically, Johnson isn’t enjoying the best season of his career, but with the Lions relevant and competitive again at 7-7, 2013 could be the best shot Megatron has at receiving the award.
However, that’s not to say that Johnson’s numbers haven’t been awe-inspiring. With 1,449 receiving yards (second in NFL) and 12 touchdowns, Johnson has continued to dominate at his position. We’ll just have to wait and see if it’s enough to garner him some well-deserved accolades at the end of the year.
Russell Wilson may not be the league’s best quarterback in any one particular category, but as an overall player, Wilson seems to have it all. There’s no doubt the 12-2 Seattle Seahawks wouldn’t currently own the NFL’s best record without him.
Wilson has successfully followed his breakout rookie season with an even more complete campaign in 2013, throwing for 3,077 yards and 24 touchdowns, while tossing just eight interceptions through 14 games. Add in his 508 rushing yards, intangible leadership qualities and ability to perform in the clutch, and you have an extremely valuable player. But is he the league’s Most Valuable Player? Members of Seattle’s 12th Man would surely say yes.
There are many players enjoying successful seasons, but Peyton Manning might be in the midst of a historic one. With 4,811 passing yards and 47 touchdowns through 14 games, Manning has a real chance to break Brees’ single-season record of 5,476 yards and Tom Brady’s single-season record of 50 touchdowns. However, even if Manning doesn’t reach those all-time marks, 2013 will still go down as his best individual season.
As the league’s only four-time MVP winner, Manning is already the most decorated individual player in the league’s history. Considering he’s having his best statistical season and his Denver Broncos are riding high at 11-3, logic says he’ll take home another Most Valuable Player trophy. But with two more weeks for other contenders to make a major impression, we’re not ready to hand him number five just yet.
Did we leave your favorite player off the list? Who do you like for the 2013 NFL MVP? Let us know in the comments.