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#pounditSaturday, April 10, 2021

Top 10 NFL MVP candidates

Tom Brady

It would be fair to say that this isn’t the strongest field of MVP candidates the NFL has ever seen. Injuries have robbed us of several deserving candidates, and nobody is really having that big, transcendentally good season that makes everyone across the country sit up and take notice.

Still, there are plenty of deserving candidates for the MVP award, though one stands head and shoulders above the rest of the field. Let’s take a look at the top 10 candidates for 2017’s NFL MVP award.

10) Case Keenum, QB, Vikings

Who would have ever imagined that Keenum would ever end up anywhere near a list like this? As a unit, the Vikings have an elite defense, but we can hardly give an award to an entire group, and Keenum deserves to be singled out anyway. His 20 touchdown passes are easily a career-high, as are his 3,219 yards. Plus, there’s absolutely something to be said for the fact that Keenum walked into a team that, due to injuries, has not been very settled at quarterback. He made the position his own and even held off Teddy Bridgewater to keep it.

9) Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers

As far as running backs go, Todd Gurley will get most of the ink. Bell’s numbers, though, are actually better. He leads the league in attempts and yards, having eclipsed 1,200. His 1,849 yards from scrimmage also pace the entire NFL. It helps that he’s on pace to play a full 16 games for only the second time in his career. What hinders his case is the fact that he has two other elite offensive players around him — Antonio Brown at wide receiver and Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback.

8) Calais Campbell, DE, Jaguars

There is no better symbol of the turnaround in Jacksonville in 2017 — or should we say, “Sacksonville.” Campbell started the season by utterly wrecking the Houston Texans, and he hasn’t slowed down much ever since. He has 14.5 sacks and has ultimately led to a culture change on the Jacksonville defense — one that has helped the team return to the playoffs with a chance to win as many as 12 games. He’s had one of the elite defensive seasons in all of football.

7) Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers

Ultimately, Rivers probably cost himself any realistic chance of winning the MVP award with a miserable three-interception game against the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s a performance that could also ultimately cost his team a playoff spot. Still, Rivers has had a fine season. Until his game against Kansas City, Rivers had gone a full month without throwing a pick — quite the accomplishment for a veteran quarterback who has, at times, struggled with turnovers. He’s thrown for 24 touchdowns and is on his way to a fifth consecutive 4,000-yard campaign.

6) Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers

Injury may ultimately cost Brown a higher finish in voting than he would have received otherwise, but there may be no receiver more important to his team’s success. At the time of his calf injury, Brown led the league with 1,533 receiving yards and 109.5 yards per game. A comparatively modest total of nine touchdowns will hurt him, but even when he’s not making the plays, he’s such an enormous threat whenever he’s on the field that he impacts games and defenses anyway.

See Nos. 5-1 on Page 2

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