The race for the National Football League’s 2008 Most Valuable Player Award will be determined in the final three weeks of this season. Clutch performances that impact must-win games, solidifying playoff status will be paramount. Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson seems to be the leader right now.
These are the contenders:
5: Brett Favre (288/421 – 2,845 Yds. – 20TDs – 18INTs; QB Rating: 88.2)
The grizzled veteran started off slowly while becoming acclimated to the New York Jet offense and the ball club sputtered to a 1-2 record. Favre then rallied the troops to an 8-3 record, which included a dramatic victory over the rival New England Patriots and a dominant win on the road versus the previously unbeaten Tennessee Titans.
The gunslinger has since regressed into the maddening inconsistency that is a staple of this latter stage of his career. Brett Favre and the Jets have disintegrated from the toast of the American Football Conference into a befuddling group posting two shocking losses to the Denver Broncos and the lowly San Francisco 49’ers.
4: Kerry Collins (206/351 – 2,280 Yds. – 11TDs – 6INTs; QB Rating: 81.4)
The 12-1 Tennessee Titans are the surprise of this 2008 NFL Season. Kerry Collins, veteran journeyman quarterback has masterfully executed the role of a guiding hand in the aftermath of what could have very well been a disastrous situation.
The second stringer filled-in for the physically injured Vince Young in week one and has continued to hold the job in favor of what has become in fact, a psychologically fragile Vince Young. The Vince Young era of high expectations, ill-timed interceptions, and a mysterious disappearance complete with a suicide watch may be ultimately finished in Tennessee.
The dominant one-two punch Tennessee running game featuring LenDale White and Chris Johnson combined with a ferocious Titan defense that is ranked third in the NFL by yards per game has led commentators to apply the pedestrian ‘game manager’ label to Collins.
Kerry Collins has proven that he can deliver – putting up impressive numbers when given the opportunity. Collins went 30-41 for 289 yards and 2 touchdowns in Week Ten at Soldier Field against a Chicago Bears scheme that stacked the line of scrimmage to guard against the run – daring the Tennessee Titans to move the football through the air.
3: Ben Roethlisberger (225/376 – 2,616 Yds. – 14TDs – 12 INTs; QB Rating: 80.1)
His 2008 ball club is the essence of Pittsburgh Steeler football: stout 3-4 defense led by solid linebacking and smart, conservative play-calling. The no-frills combination is a gift and curse, also causing spectators to mislabel Roethlisberger as a mere game manager.
Big Ben has passed every single test in leading the Steelers to a 10-3 record.
This 10-3 mark is incredible, considering the intimidating gauntlet of the Pittsburgh schedule. With the exception of the Cincinnati Bengals, the Steelers have matched up against playoff-style competition week in and week out. Roethlisberger has emerged victorious in various duels of quarterbacking versus the likes of Joe Flacco, David Gerard, Jason Campbell, Matt Cassel, Philip Rivers, and Tony Romo.
Big Ben has engineered a 10-3 record behind a shaky offensive line that has been decimated by the loss of All-Pro Alan Faneca to the New York Jets via free agency. The running back corps has been depleted by injury – reliant upon the production of third-stringer Mewelde Moore for the bulk of the year.
Ben Roethlisberger wins football games. Period.
2: Kurt Warner (347/505 – 4020 Yds. – 25 TDs – 12 INTs; QB Rating: 99.1)
Kurt Warner is the feel-good story of 2008.
The graybeard has bagged groceries, languished in the Arena Football League, took home a Super Bowl MVP trophy, and has passed for nearly 30,000 yards during his NFL career. He has also been cast aside as a turnover-prone, injury riddled has-been by the New York Giants and even his current Arizona Cardinal football team.
He has emerged with a vengeance in relief of Golden Boy, Matt Leinart to lead the star-crossed Arizona Cardinal franchise to an NFC West division title. The Cardinals will host their first playoff game since 1947 – when they were actually located at Chicago.
Warner has been masterful in leading the Cards to an 8-5 record. The signal caller is posting video game-like numbers, reminiscent of his Glory Days at St. Louis. The high-powered offense ranks fourth in the NFL in total yards per game and is second to the New Orleans Saints in terms of passing statistics.
Kurt Warner has brought both his career and an entire franchise back from the dead in 2008.
1: Adrian Peterson (292 Carries – 1,416 Yards – 9 TDs)
A.P. is the best player in the National Football League.
Adrian Peterson will win the 2008 NFL Most Valuable Playoff award if he is indeed able to carry the Minnesota Vikings into the playoffs. Minnesota may be without the services of the injured starting quarterback Gus Frerotte for the remainder of 2008.
The squad must rely upon Tarvaris Jackson, the backup that had been benched earlier this year due to his lack of offensive production. The desperate move by Coach Brad Childress saved the season. Opposing defenses successfully game planned to shut down Peterson – daring the inconsistent Jackson to execute.
The 18-15 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Week Two, dropping the Vikes to 0-2 crystallized the situation. The Colts, rallying behind their precise quarterback quickly matriculated the football down the field for scores late in the game to escape with a victory at the Metrodome.
The shocked crowd was frustrated by the lack of creativity from the Minnesota sideline that had to settle for five field goals earlier in the game. Commentators speculate that the one-dimensional attack was a function of Jackson’s limited familiarity with the playbook.
The Chicago Bears at 8-6, have the inside track on the 8-5 Minnesota Vikings for the NFC North division crown due to scheduling. Minnesota faces three playoff contenders in the final weeks of the season. The Vikings must travel to Arizona before returning home to battle against the 8-5 Atlanta Falcons and the 11-2 Super Bowl Champion New York Giants.
Adrian Peterson must recreate his stellar Week Ten Green Bay performance over the next three games. Nicknamed All Day for his tireless energy, the running back refused defeat at the hands of the Packers and rumbled for 192 yards while dominating the game in the fourth quarter. AP proved his mettle as a leader – demanding the call throughout the heated moments of a 28-27 victory in order to make amends for a costly fumble.
The opposition is ready – fully aware of this mandate:
Adrian Peterson is getting the football.
But can he be stopped?
Adrian Peterson in Driver’s Seat to Win 2008 NFL MVP Award, Sources:
The Official Web Site of the NFL, http://www.nfl.com/
Adrian Peterson Fan Site, http://www.adrian-peterson.com/
The Official Web Site of the Minnesota Vikings, http://www.vikings.com/Index.aspx