Aaron Rodgers has a good opportunity to claim his second consecutive NFL MVP award in 2012, based on his start so far this season. Right now, Rodgers has two main competitors vying for the same honor.
One would be Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos. Manning has already won the NFL MVP award four times in his illustrious career. Manning has led the Broncos to the division lead in the AFC West with a 5-3 record, plus has put up very good numbers as a passer.
Manning has thrown 20 touchdown passes, compared to six interceptions, for 2,404 yards. Manning also has an NFL-leading 108.6 quarterback rating.
The other player that is being talked about as a possible MVP candidate is quarterback Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons. Ryan has led the Dirty Birds to an undefeated season (8-0) so far. Ryan also has very good stats as well.
He has thrown 17 touchdown passes, versus six interceptions, for 2,360 yards. Ryan's quarterback rating is 103, which is third in the NFL, only behind Manning and Rodgers.
But the best player in the NFL over the past month has definitely been Rodgers. In his last four games, Rodgers has thrown 15 touchdown passes, compared to just one pick. The Packers have won every one of those games too.
Overall, Rodgers has thrown 25 touchdown passes (best in the NFL), compared to five interceptions, for 2,383 yards. Rodgers also has a 107.4 quarterback rating, which is second, only behind Manning.
Rodgers is on pace to coming close to his numbers of 2011, when he did win the NFL MVP award.
Last season, Rodgers threw 45 touchdown passes, versus just six picks, for 4,643 yards. He also had a 122.5 quarterback rating, which is the best-ever mark in the NFL.
Rodgers and the Packers still have seven games to play, as the team heads into the bye week with a 6-3 record. That is good enough for second place in the NFC North, where the Chicago Bears lead the division with a 7-1 record. The Bears' only defeat came at the hands of the Packers.
Currently, the Packers would be the No. 5 seed in the NFC playoffs, as the top Wild Card selection. But that could change significantly, as the Packers will play NFC North opponents five times in the last seven weeks of the 2012 season.
That includes another matchup against Da Bears in Chicago on December 16th.
Rodgers is 8-2 lifetime (including the 2010 NFC Championship Game) against Chicago as well.
In terms of running with the football, Rodgers has a clear advantage over both Manning and Ryan. Rodgers has rushed for 162 yards in 2012, while Manning has just nine rushing yards, and Ryan has 93.
However, Rodgers is also more prone to be sacked, as he has been taken down 29 times, compared to just 10 times for Manning and 18 times for Ryan.
Bottom line, Rodgers looks like he has a very good chance to equal or surpass the touchdown passes he threw last season (45). Plus, it looks like he could also exceed the passing yardage he threw for in 2011 (4,643 yards).
It's doubtful that he will be able to match the quarterback rating he had last season, but he can still win the overall passing rating title, as he is just 1.2 points behind Manning currently.
If the Packers can catch the Bears and win the NFC North, that would also go a long way in helping Rodgers win his second straight MVP.
Let's also not forget that Rodgers has played most of the season without his number one wide receiver option, as Greg Jennings has missed most of the 2012 season due to an abdomen injury.
Jennings just had surgery to resolve that situation, and is expected back within a few weeks. That will definitely help Rodgers' cause.
Plus, Jordy Nelson, who is the No. 2 option for Rodgers at wide receiver, has basically missed two straight games due to injuries (hamstring/ankle), but is expected to be back when the Packers take on the Detroit Lions on November 18th.
Imagine the numbers that Rodgers will put up when Jennings and Nelson are both in the lineup, along with James Jones (NFL-leading eight touchdown receptions) and Randall Cobb (six touchdown receptions).
One thing is for sure: Rodgers has definitely played like an MVP the past four games.
I see that type of performance continuing as the 2012 NFL season moves into the crunch-time part of the schedule.
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