Now that week 9 is more or less in the books, we can take a look at the major contenders for the NFL's MVP award this year. The season has reached a logical half-way mark with every team playing 8 games, so it's safe to start debating about the league's major accolades. It's safe to say that there isn't a runaway choice for most valuable player this season. Unlike most years, there are at least 3 players that could all be seen as deserving of the award this time around. Let's take a look at each player's candidacy, and break down why each one could finish the season as the NFL MVP.

The MVP Favorite:

At this point, Tom Brady has to be considered the MVP favorite despite playing just 4 games this season. Brady has been completely dominant since returning from his suspension, leading the NFLin completion percentage and passer rating. He's throwing for 400 yards and three touchdowns a game, and has yet to throw an interception. In years where there hasn't been a clear cut choice for MVP, the trophy has been awarded to the best player on the best team. That's most likely going to be Brady considering how dominant the Patriots have been this year.

There are holes in Brady's candidacy though. For one thing, can a player really be declared league MVP when he's only played in 75% of his teams' games?

This becomes especially troubling when you consider the fact that the Patriots went 3-1 in his absence. It's obvious that New England is the best team in the NFL when Brady is on the field, but it's hard to ignore the fact that they would probably still make the playoffs without him.

It's also fair to say that the sports writers who vote on this award have plenty of reasons not to vote for Brady.

There are many who feel that it isn't fair to award the MVP trophy to a player that was suspended during the season. The other candidates in the race are much sexier choices as well, so it wouldn't shock me to see the writers pick one of them instead.

The Dark Horse MVP Candidates:

Matthew Stafford: Stafford isn't getting as much love as he should in this MVP race.

The Lions' QB has been phenomenal this season, and he's done so with a lesser supporting cast than any of the other candidates. Stafford has led a game winning drive in every one of Detroit's wins this season, and the Lions have yet to lose by more than one possession. Stafford's numbers may be less impressive than some of his competition, but he doesn't have a Hall of Fame coach on the sidelines like Brady does, and he doesn't have a top 10 receiver to throw to like Matt Ryan does.

Perhaps the only thing hurting Stafford's candidacy is the fact that the Lions may fail to make the playoffs. While Detroit is by no means out of the division race, it's fair to wonder if the the team can get into the postseason in the incredibly competitive NFL.

Should the Lions fail to make the playoffs, it will most likely cost Stafford the award, but should they get in, it might make him the most impressive of all the candidates.

Matt Ryan:Ryan may have a better shot at the award than anyone. It's likely that he'll finish with more passing yards and touchdowns than any other quarterback, which means you can quantify his candidacy. The Falcons are also very likely to win the NFC South, which will certainly enhance his MVP candidacy. While Atlanta is far from the best team in the league, they have put up some impressive wins, and Ryan has looked good leading them in those victories. They've also featured the best offense in the NFL, which looks good for Ryan as the centerpiece of their offense.

It's hard to poke holes in Ryan's candidacy. For one thing, he does play with the best receiver in the NFL in Julio Jones. He also has a better running game behind him than any of the other major candidates. The Falcons have also lost some big games they should've won, like the loss to San Diego. If Atlanta falters against less than stellar competition down the stretch, it could definitely cost Ryan this award

Follow the page NFL
Don't miss our page on Facebook!