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2015 NFL MVP: Top contenders for league's Most Valuable Player

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As we approach the crazy and exciting end of what has been a, well, crazy and exciting regular season, let's take a look at the players with the best chance of taking home the MVP award. 

Before I begin, I would just like to include the friendly reminder that this is an award for the most valuable player and not necessarily the best, though they're often the same player.

Without further ado, introducing, first, the number one contender. At 6'5, weighing in at 245 pounds from Atlanta Georgia...

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1. Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers

As they say, it's "a quarterback-driven league" so it is the norm to have a quarterback leading the MVP race.

The quarterback is the most valuable position on the football field, and games are usually won or lost on his shoulders. However, Cam Newton is not a stereotypical quarterback; Cam Newton is the prototype for all quarterbacks.

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He's pretty much Super Man. Already described as the greatest red zone threat of all time by the energetic, ever-sweaty Mike Robinson, it's pretty easy to see why Newton is considered to be the favourite.

His stats (58.8 percent completion rate, 3,402 passing yards, 33 passing TDs, 10 INTs, 98.9 passer rating, 580 rushing yards, 7 rushing TDs) may look unworthy of an MVP award, especially to those stat mongers who grew up watching Peyton Manning in his heyday, but if you've watched Newton play this season you will share my sentiments.

He has 580 rushing yards as well as seven rushing touchdowns. Makes you wonder whether he really is a quarterback or a running back that can throw (Mike Vick anyone? Russell Hustle Muscle Bustle Wilson?).

Oh and there's the minor, relatively insignificant fact that his Panthers are currently 14-0 and are likely to go 16-0. Just putting that out there.

2. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

Brady was the easily favourite to win the award for the best part of the season. Just like many predicted, he started the season like a man possessed by the football demons and was unleashing his righteous, post-deflate-gate fury upon every defence in his path. It didn't even look like there would be much of a contest.

However, his path to individual glory took an ugly skid in the wake of two consecutive unfortunate and confounding losses to the Denver Broncos and the Philadelphia Eagles. 

His receivers certainly haven't given him much help, doing their utmost to drop any pass that requires a little bit of a contest.

Brandon LaFell, doing his best Brandon LaFell impression, had four catches on nine targets for 27 yards and one ugly drop in a game where even Tom Brady had more receiving yards than him.

Brady has clearly struggled to adapt to the mounting injuries the Patriots have suffered across the board, especially the injuries to Lewis, Gronkowski and Edelman. But with Gronk returning and the imminent return of Edelman on the horizon, expect the Patriots to cause their opponents a lot of pain in the coming weeks.

Their comfortable wins against the Texans and Titans, combined with the Steelers' wins over Cincinnati and Denver have them right back as the top seed in the AFC and they are unlikely to relinquish that position.

While he trails Newton, albeit having superior stats (64.3 percent completion rate, 4,405 passing yards, 35 passing TDs, 6 INTs, 103.8 passer rating), he is still very much in the race. But as is the case with the Patriots, his focus is on the suddenly monumental division rivalry game against the Jets. Nothing but a vintage Brady outing will do. 

3. Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals

I know this is the 2015 season award we are talking about but it's hard not to look at the way Palmer's ACL tear last season completely derailed the Cardinals' season.

They were playing fantastic football and looked like a Super Bowl favourite, never mind contender, but his injury saw the Cardinals limp into the playoffs before going out with a whimper against the Panthers.

This year Palmer is back and is playing the best football of his seasoned career. His Cardinals are the most fun team to watch in the league and their offence lights up the field like fireworks with their aerial displays.

His stats (64.3 percent completion rate, 4,277 passing yards, 32 passing TDs, 9 INTs, 106.7 passer rating) speak for themselves

He also leads a team with the most realistic chance of knocking off the Panthers' quest to crash the '72 Dolphins' annual perfection party - unless you've already fastened your seatbelt on the 'Seahawks Are Back' bandwagon, that is.

Palmer faces two big challenges to close out the regular season with home games against the Packers and the Seahawks, and huge performances in both games may just be enough to get him crowned as league MVP. 

Worthy mentions: Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks; Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers; Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots.

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Topics:
Cam Newton
NFL
Carolina Panthers
Tom Brady
Arizona Cardinals
New England Patriots

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