Who Will Win the NFL MVP?

Texans defensive end J.J. Watt had 20.5 sacks. (Getty)

Texans defensive end J.J. Watt had 20.5 sacks. (Getty)

The NFL hands out the hardware Saturday night, the day before the Patriots and Seahawks go at it in Super Bowl XLIX.

“NFL Honors” will be a 2-hour prime time awards special hosted by Seth Meyers from Symphony Hall at the Phoenix Convention Center at 9 p.m. Eastern.

All eyes will be on the MVP race, which is expected to be a tight one. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt are the presumed front-runners, but can you count out Tom Brady or DeMarco Murray?

The Associated Press NFL MVP award is voted upon by sportswriters at the end of the regular season, before the playoffs.

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning got 49 of 50 1st-place votes a year ago to win MVP, his 5th career honor. His other 4 came with the Colts.

Here’s a rundown of last year’s winners.

Television coverage of the awards show is as follows:

8 p.m. Eastern on NFL Network: Red carpet coverage
9 p.m. Eastern on NBC: 4th Annual NFL Honors

Other major honors to be handed out Saturday night are:

AP Coach of the Year
AP Offensive Player of the Year
AP Defensive Player of the Year
AP Offensive Rookie of the Year
AP Defensive Rookie of the Year
AP Comeback Player of the Year
NFL Sportsmanship Award

You can see a list of past MVP winners here.

Here are the credentials for the MVP candidates:

Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

Season Stats

373-for-582 (64.1 percent), 4,109 yards, 33 TDs, 9 INTs

Why He Should Win

Brady needs to be in the discussion every year, really. Once again he hit the 4,000-yard mark and 30-TD barrier while leading the Pats to another AFC East title. And he did so with a rating near 100 and minimal turnovers.

Why He Shouldn’t Win

Because he does this every year. He would need an other-worldly season for the voters to say, “Wow, you know who had a phenomenal season? Tom Brady.” Sad, but true.

Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts

Season Stats

380-for-616 (61.7 percent), 4,761 yards, 40 TDs, 16 INTs

Why He Should Win

Luck led the league in TD passes and passes completed of 20 and 40 yards or more. He was 2nd in passing yards. Luck did this with no running game and aging/hobbled receivers like Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks.

Why He Shouldn’t Win

Luck was sloppy with the football, turning it over 22 times (16 interceptions, 6 fumbles lost). He also didn’t play his best against the toughest teams on the schedule like an MVP should.

DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys

Season Stats

392 carries, 1,845 yards, 4.7 avg., 13 TDs, 57 receptions

Why He Should Win

If you lead the league in rushing, you should be in the conversation. A total workhorse and he played through a broken hand. Started the year with 8-straight 100-yard games and finished with 12 overall.

Why He Shouldn’t Win

Murray faded somewhat down the stretch (not really his fault, the Cowboys piled on the carries) and had ball-control issues. Plus, the MVP field is too loaded this year.

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

Season Stats

341-for-520 (65.6 percent), 4,381 yards, 38 TDs, 5 INTs

Why He Should Win

Rodgers’ season has been nothing short of remarkable. His 5 interceptions were fewest among active leaders. He’s had 1 bad game (vs. Buffalo), 2 other so-so outings and 13 where he was lights out.

Why He Shouldn’t Win

His case is pretty solid. It’s hard finding many, if any, holes in his game. I guess his Hans and Franz State Farm commercials might be getting a little stale. I doubt the voters are taking that into consideration.

J.J. Watt, DL, Houston Texans

Season Stats

78 tackles (59 solo), 20.5 sacks, 1 safety, 10 passes defensed, 1 INT for a 80-yard TD, 3 TD receptions

Why He Should Win

Because he’s the best defensive player in the game, hands down. Watt makes an impact in all phases of defense as a rusher, run defender and pass defender (and as a tight end on offense).

Why He Shouldn’t Win

Because he plays defense and his team finished just 9-7.

Heavy’s Pick

Aaron Rodgers, Packers

I think the writers want to shock the world and make Watt the first defensive player since Lawrence Taylor in 1986 to win MVP honors. But LT’s Giants went 14-2 and won the Super Bowl. Watt’s Texans went 9-7. Without him they do what? 8-8? 7-9? They cannot vote Watt as the Most Valuable Player.

On the other hand, if you take Rodgers out of the Packers lineup and replace him with backup Matt Flynn, they’re not going 12-4. They’re likely not making the playoffs. You might be able to say the same for Luck and Brady in their situations, but not to Rodgers’ extent.

Above I could find a flaw with every other player but Rodgers. He had a hiccup or two, but really didn’t show any weaknesses in the regular season.

After a rocky 1-2 start, Rodgers went on ESPN Milwaukee radio and said:

Five letters here just for everybody out there in Packer-land: R-E-L-A-X. Relax. We’re going to be OK.

He then proceeded to tear the league apart en route to an 11-2 finish. Who does that? An MVP does that.

There’s a very good possibility Watt is the best player in the league and he’ll surely win the AP Defensive Player of the Year, but Rodgers is the most valuable.

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