Matt Ryan and the NFL's Top MVP Candidates Through Week 8

Jeffrey SchmidtCorrespondent IIINovember 1, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 28:  Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons throws a pass against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on October 28, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

After eight weeks of action, it is evident that no one has disengaged themselves in the NFL MVP race. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan would be the front-runner if the award was handed out today, but there is certainly a valid argument for a number of other players at this point in the season.

The award has been dominated by quarterbacks since its inception in 1957, with 37 out of the 57 awards going to signal-callers. There are a few defensive players making some noise, however, which goes to show just how wide open this race really is. With the season officially at the mid-point, here are the players that have the best chance to win the NFL MVP award. 


10. Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Washington Redskins

 Griffin has done it all for the Redskins this season. The quarterback has thrown for 1,778 yards while also rushing for 476 yards and six touchdowns.  


9. Ben Roethlisberger, Quarterback, Pittsburgh Steelers

 The Steelers' quarterback has been extremely efficient so far this season. Big Ben has tossed 14 touchdown passes to just three interceptions.  


8. Adrian Peterson, Running Back, Minnesota Vikings

Peterson leads the NFL with 775 rushing yards despite playing in one of the NFL's worst passing offenses. The running back will receive some votes at the end of the year if the Vikings are still in the playoff hunt.  


7. Percy Harvin, Wide Receiver, Minnesota Vikings 

Just like Peterson, Harvin will receive more attention if the Vikes are contenders. Harvin's ability to act as a potent offensive and special teams weapon certainly improves his value.  


6. Eli Manning, Quarterback, New York Giants

Eli Manning has found his late-game magic once again this season. The quarterback has led the Giants to three comeback victories (Tampa Bay, Cleveland and Washington), and he currently has the G-Men sitting comfortably atop the NFC East. 

Manning has thrown for over 300 yards three times this season, which includes his season-high 510-yard game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The quarterback sits at No. 6 on this list because of his eight interceptions, and his low quarterback rating compared to the other top contenders. However, if Manning can lead the Giants to a No. 1 seed in the NFC or close to it, he will most certainly be considered for the MVP award. 


5. Aaron Rodgers, Quarterback, Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers was named the MVP just a season ago, and it is apparent that the quarterback is poised to make another run at the prestigious trophy. Rodgers has thrown 21 touchdown passes and just four interceptions so far this season, and his 2,165 passing yards rank fourth in the league. 

The quarterback has played great against some of the league's top competition, and he has been able to play at this high level despite losing his top target, Greg Jennings, earlier in the year.

One stat that may surprise some is that Rodgers has sacked more than any other quarterback (28 times). This is not a major issue as of today, but Rodgers could begin to wear down later in the season if this negative trend continues. 


4. Tom Brady, Quarterback, New England Patriots 

Tom Brady is having yet another MVP-caliber season. The quarterback has his team atop the AFC East, and he leads the league with 2,408 passing yards. Brady also has the fewest interceptions thrown among starting quarterbacks with three, and ranks second in total QBR behind Peyton Manning

It would not surprise many if Brady walked away with his fourth MVP trophy at the end of the season.


3. Peyton Manning, Quarterback, Denver Broncos

After a tough start to the season, Peyton Manning has finally found his groove. The quarterback has the Broncos in first place in the AFC West, and he leads the NFL in passer rating. The quarterback has also thrown 17 touchdowns to just four interceptions, and he has noticeably gotten better every single week. 

The Broncos only face one opponent that has a winning record in their final nine games, which will help Peyton's MVP chances and help the Broncos towards their goal of reaching the playoffs. 


 2. J.J. Watt, Defensive End, Houston Texans

J.J. Watt is the best player on the league's best defense. Watt leads the NFL with 9.5 sacks, and he has done it while playing in a five-technique for the majority of the Texans' snaps. Watt has also compiled 27 solo tackles, 10 passes defended and two fumble recoveries on the season, which is astonishing for a 3-4 defensive end.

Watt would be the first defensive player to win the award since Lawrence Taylor in 1986.   


1. Matt Ryan, Quarterback, Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons would not be the league's only undefeated team if it were not for the clutch play of quarterback Matt Ryan. The five-year starter has been specifically good at the end of games, as he has lead three game-winning drives this season. 

Ryan has a passer rating of 103.0 so far this season, and has thrown for 2,018 yards with 17 touchdowns and six interceptions. He would be the MVP if it were to handed out today in my opinion, and appears to be the favorite moving forward if the Falcons can continue to win.