Top 5 Midseason Candidates for NFL MVP

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

A lot of times, people have a hard time differentiating between Offensive or Defensive Player of the Year, which are stat-based awards, and Most Valuable Player, which is based not only on stats, but also on team success and the value the player adds to his team. In most cases, the player that goes on to win the NFL MVP award will have been at the very least a finalist for Offensive or Defensive Player of the Year. Here is a look at the top five players who have emerged as the top candidates for the 2014 NFL Most Valuable Player award.

All statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

1.  Peyton Manning, quarterback, Denver Broncos

  • 69% completion rate
  • 2,134 yards
  • 22 touchdown passes
  • Three interceptions
  • 8.5 yards per pass attempt
  • 305 yards per game
  • 119.0 quarterback rating

Manning has been the best player on the best team in football for the first half of the season. Enough said.

Source: Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

2.  DeMarco Murray, running back, Dallas Cowboys

  • 1,054 yards
  • Seven touchdowns
  • 5.1 yards per carry
  • 131.8 yards per game
  • Eight runs of 20+ yards
  • 26 receptions
  • 239 receiving yards

Murray is on track to break the NFL single-season rushing yards record in 2014. More importantly, he has led the Cowboys to a 6-2 start, which is good for the division lead in the NFC East. If Murray goes on to break the record, it will be hard to not vote for him as the league MVP.

Source: Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

3.  Andrew Luck, quarterback, Indianapolis Colts

  • 64.8% completion rate
  • 2,731 yards
  • 22 touchdown passes
  • 9 interceptions
  • 7.9 yards per pass attempt
  • 341 yards per game
  • 99.2 quarterback rating
  • 124 yards rushing
  • Two rushing touchdowns

Luck has put the Colts on his back and carried them into contention in the AFC. He leads the league in passing yards per game and is tied for the lead in touchdown passes. The Colts are heavy favorites to win the AFC South and with a deep playoff run, Luck could win his first MVP award in his third professional season.

Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

4.  J.J. Watt, defensive end, Houston Texans

  • 32 tackles
  • 7.0 sacks
  • 10 tackles for loss
  • One interception
  • One forced fumble
  • Three fumble recoveries
  • Two defensive touchdowns
  • Seven passes deflected

Watt has been the best defensive player in the league in 2014, and it hasn’t even been close. He does a little bit of everything for the Texans and has helped them turn into a playoff contender in 2014. It is highly unlikely that a defensive player will win the MVP award, but if there is a guy who can do it, it is Watt.

Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

5.  Tom Brady, quarterback, New England Patriots

  • 64.4% completion rate
  • 2,059 yards
  • 18 touchdowns
  • 2 interceptions
  • 7.3 yards per pass attempt
  • 257.4 yards per game
  • 104.7 quarterback rating

Early in the 2014 season most people were thinking that the Patriots’ dynasty, led by Brady, was coming to an end. In recent weeks, Brady has silenced any and all critics. He has been aided by a healthy Rob Gronkowski, but if the last two weeks are any indication, Brady will be a serious MVP-candidate, and the Patriots will be a serious Super Bowl contender by the end of the season.