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Aaron Rodgers in front of pack in MVP race – NFL Sports

Holding one of the 50 votes for the Associated Press’ NFL MVP Award was easier last year when unanimous pick Lamar Jackson quarterbacked a league-best 14-2 team while having the greatest season by a dual-threat passer/runner in NFL history.

This year is a touch more difficult, at least for this voter, although the old fella over in Green Bay is making it easier.

With apologies to Tennessee’s Derrick Henry and New Orleans’ Alvin Kamara, it doesn’t appear that a running back has quite the juice to unseat a quarterback from this award for the first time since Adrian Peterson did it as a Viking during his 2,097-yard rushing season in 2012.

And sorry, Stefon Diggs and Davante Adams, but a receiver has never won the award. A kicker — Mark Moseley with Washington during the 1982 strike year — has. But no wideout. Even Jerry Rice himself had 23 touchdown catches in 12 games during the strike-shortened 1987 season and still didn’t win MVP.

Since 1961, when the award for the league’s best player was renamed “Most Valuable,” a quarterback has won it 41 times, including 1997, when Brett Favre shared it with running back Barry Sanders, and 2003, when quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Steve McNair shared it. A running back has won it 17 times while Moseley, Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor (1986) and Vikings defensive tackle Alan Page (1971) have won once apiece.

It looks like another quarterback is on the horizon this season. Our votes can’t be cast until after the regular season ends Sunday night. Here’s a look at five candidates:

Aaron Rodgers

Sorry, Vikings fans, but this would be quite the story when the winner is announced on the eve of Super Bowl LV in Tampa. Especially if the Packers are playing in the game.

Ten months after his bosses drafted quarterback Jordan Love in the first round and then ignored the best receiver class maybe ever, the 37-year-old Rodgers would match Favre’s total of three MVPs.

Rodgers’ league-leading 119.4 passer rating would be third-highest in NFL history behind his mark of 122.5 in 2011 and Manning’s 121.1 in 2004. Rodgers also has a league-high 44 touchdown passes, five interceptions and just seven turnovers.

And, oh yeah, his team sits atop the NFC at 12-3.

Patrick Mahomes

The reigning Super Bowl MVP and winner of this award in 2018 is 14-1 and just as valuable as ever.

But …

In a race with his fellow State Farm pitchman, Mahomes has had some mere mortal moments of late. He has turned the ball over five times in the past three weeks and will rest in Week 17.

Derrick Henry

The engine that drives the AFC South-leading Titans will become the first repeat rushing champion since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006-07.

Henry has 1,777 yards, a 220-yard lead on Dalvin Cook, who won’t play this week. Henry also has 15 rushing touchdowns and a 5.2-yard average. Amazingly, in his past 34 games, Henry has carried the ball 730 times while averaging more than 5 yards and suffering zero injuries.

For him to have a realistic shot at MVP, he’ll need to reach 2,000 yards and have the Titans win their division with 11 victories.

Josh Allen

Bills Mafia wants this award for Allen so badly, it’s not even pitching Diggs and his league-leading, franchise-turning 120 catches as a candidate for the award.

In fact, a news release sent to voters this week included a quote from Diggs when he was asked if Allen is the MVP.

“One hundred percent,” he said. “You thought I was about to say something else? That’s especially my MVP.”

Allen has 34 touchdown passes, eight rushing touchdowns and a 12-yard touchdown reception for a team that’s 12-3 and won its division for the first time since 1995.

Diggs and Cole Beasley both have career highs for catches and yards. And the Bills have tied an NFL record with 13 players catching at least one touchdown pass.

T.J. Watt

J.J.’s little brother won’t win. But let’s at least acknowledge that football has another side to the ball.

The Steelers are 12-3 and champions of the league’s toughest division. Their do-it-all linebacker has a league-leading 15 sacks, seven passes defensed, two forced fumbles and an interception.

He’s also making a strong case to win the Watt family’s fourth NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. J.J. won it three times in four seasons from 2012-15.

Mark Craig is an NFL and Vikings Insider. Twitter: @markcraigNFL. E-mail: mcraig@startribune.com

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– NFL Sports

Aaron Rodgers in front of pack in MVP race
https://www.startribune.com/aaron-rodgers-in-front-of-pack-in-mvp-race/600006140/ Aaron Rodgers in front of pack in MVP race

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