10 weeks into the 2016 season the race for the right to be called the Most Valuable Player in the NFL is heating up, and there are plenty of fresh faces in the discussion.
Whilst last season's winner, Cam Newton, has seen both his play and his team's play regress, others have taken huge leaps catapulting themselves and their franchises into the spotlight.
Here's a look at the five front-runners for the MVP award at this stage of the season:
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The 9-year veteran is having his best season as a pro, posting statistical highs in passer rating, yards and touchdown passes after nine games. The Falcons quarterback leads the league in passing yards (3247) and touchdown passes (24), and is second only to Tom Brady in passer rating amongst players who have started more than two games.
'Matty Ice' has led his Atlanta squad to a division leading 6-4 record including impressive wins at high-flying Oakland and up against the stoic Broncos defense back in week five.
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The former first-round pick out of Boston College has displayed his usual calmness under pressure all season, none more so than in his team's epic fourth quarter comeback against the Packers in week eight. Ryan led the 32nd game winning drive of his career in the 33-32 home victory, and his team would certainly be struggling without the numbers he has posted this year, especially with their 26th ranked total defense.
Sure, the two-time league MVP has only featured in five games this stanza due to his Deflategate suspension but Brady is posting historic numbers.
Since returning in week five to torch the Browns for 406 yards and three touchdowns, Brady has completed 72.9 percent of his passes. averaging 327 yards a game with 12 touchdowns and only one interception. His 125.4 passer rating leads the NFL and would set a league record if he maintains this pace.
The absence of a standout frontrunner almost makes his suspension a non-factor in the MVP race and if the 39-year-old keeps posting these kinds of numbers, and the Patriots keep soaring toward yet another Super Bowl appearance, it's hard to see the award going anywhere else.
To make his case seem even more set in stone, New England plays the 49ers, Jets and Rams in its next three games and those teams have a combined record of 8-20, so it's not likely that Tom will be slowing down any time soon.
The rookie sensation just keeps rolling after posting yet another big game at the Steelers in week ten including the game-winning 83-yard score. Elliott leads the league in rushing with 1005 yards through 9 games and is well on his way to breaking Hall of Famer, Eric Dickerson's, leading rookie rushing mark of 1808 yards.
The former Buckeye has lit the league on fire alongside fellow rookie Dak Prescott and the pair have led the Cowboys to a league leading 8-1 record. Elliott has scored 10 total touchdowns and his 250 receiving yards in addition to his rushing haul means he also leads the league in total yards from scrimmage.
Jim Brown was the last rookie to win the MVP award back in 1957 and whilst some of Elliott's success owes to his outstanding offensive line, the first year standout is having an enormous impact on his team.
The Raiders signal caller is in his third season out of Fresno State and the former second round pick is excelling. Carr has led one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL to a 7-2 record and is fast becoming one of the elite passers in the game.
Armed with dangerous receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, and behind one of the better lines in football, Carr is compiling his best season in the professional game. He ranks in the top ten in the league for passing yards, touchdowns and passer rating whilst recording an unbeaten 5-0 record away from home.
Carr led his team to their first win over division rivals Denver since 2011 in week nine and his side boasts the sixth-ranked passing attack in the NFL. All this with a leaky defense that is ranked 28th overall and 30th against the pass.
His statistical achievements aside, Carr might define the term 'most valuable player' as his intangibles have assured a team with limited defensive capabilities is firmly in the playoff picture.
He may not be the best player in the league, though he's not been far off, but he may be the most valuable to his team's success.
Fox Sports' Colin Cowherd has championed this view saying: “If you sit there as a Raiders fan, that New Orleans game you would have lost without Derek Carr. And the Baltimore game you would have lost without Derek Carr. And [The San Diego] game, forget the whiff on the field goal. You would have lost that game without Derek Carr, because San Diego scores 30 points a weekend. Derek Carr, to me, if you’re asking, “Most Valuable Player”? Derek Carr is the most valuable player in the league right now.”
No defensive player has won the MVP award since the great Lawrence Taylor in 1986, not even JJ Watt's monster production has ever managed to crack that run, but Miller could be in with a shout if he continues his dominant play.
The reigning Super Bowl MVP is a game wrecker, and constantly comes up trumps in key moments, just as he did in Santa Clara where he terrorised Cam Newton. Miller has 9.5 sacks through ten games despite facing double and triple-teams on a regular basis and without one of last season's standout interior pass rushers, Malik Jackson.
Denver's top-ranked pass defense begins with Miller the pass rush and Denver also leads the league with 29 sacks, owing much to the attention being on the former Aggie allowing others like Shane Ray and Derek Wolfe to get in on the act.
He is the most disruptive and best edge rusher in football and the leader of the best defense in football, something that can only boost his MVP claims.
Others with an outside chance
Dak Prescott, Matthew Stafford, Julio Jones and the entire Cowboys offensive line could walk away with top honours if they see a spike in their play and their teams make it deep in to the post-season.
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