To me, the NFL is not a sport where you can start discussing the MVP before the end of the season. I know fans of the NBA love to have that debate and crown an MVP before Christmas, but I don't like crowning an NFL MVP before Christmas, let alone the NBA. But we're now 11 weeks in, every team has had their bye week, and it's officially "ok" to start wondering who the MVP of the league is.
And for the seventh time this decade it's likely to be named a quarterback.
As of right now Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Brett Favre lead the MVP voting, with Tom Brady and Philip Rivers seriously in contention. It's going to be a tough situation for voters, given they're not only going to have to judge wins, and numbers, but for once they're going to have to judge just how important each of the five players are to their team.
Manning was given the award in 2008, so there's no judging whether or not the voters will hold that against him in 2009. In 2008 the Patriots won 11 games without Tom Brady, they'll need to win out for Brady to get the MVP this year (unless his numbers are huge). The 2008 Vikings won their division, so the 2009 Vikings will likely need to win home field advantage for Favre to get the MVP award, and then there's still the chance the Adrian Peterson manages to snag a vote or two from him. Brees' numbers are down from 2008 but his teams wins are way up, it'll be hard to ignore him. Rivers is the wild card of the bunch, if the Chargers can somehow earn a first round bye, it'll be really hard to ignore Rivers, no matter what Manning, Brady, Brees, and Favre do. That being said, It will be tough for Rivers to make it to the Pro Bowl this year with Manning, Brady, Palmer, and Roethlisberger all putting up huge numbers in the AFC.
As you can see through week 11 it's a wash.
But let's not forget, at this point last year the Colts were 6-4 and Manning was just entering the MVP discussion that was headed by Adrian Peterson and James Harrison. At the end of the year, Peterson and Harrison pretty much fell out of the discussion, Chad Pennington and Michael Turner entered it, and Peyton Manning won by a mile.
So you really can't clearly judge an MVP situation in week 11 unless a player is having a ridiculous season and his team is winning like Manning 04, Alexander 05, Tomlinson 06, and Brady 07, still 04 had Jamal Lewis, 05 had Peyton Manning, 06 had Drew Brees, and 07 had Randy Moss to make it a debate at this point in the season.
Personally who do I think is the MVP through week 11? It's hard to say. Since 2003 Peyton Manning has finished out of the top 3 in MVP voting only once (2007 when he played perhaps his best season) so the odds are in favor that it will be hard to stop Manning from getting his league record 4th MVP award. The only things stopping him are a late season collapse, a rise in turnovers, or the media really falling in love with Brett Favre.
But for the moment the MVP depth chart is 1. Manning, 2. Brees, 3. Favre, 4. Brady 5. Rivers.
You can almost guarantee that will change between now and the first week of January.