The fans' Top 5 NFL MVP candidates
1. Peyton Manning, QB, Colts
After starting the season 3-4, Peyton Manning led the Colts on an amazing run as they won their final nine regular season games. Manning threw for 4,002 yards, the ninth time he's reached the 4,000 yard mark in 11 seasons. He also tallied 27 touchdowns during a season in which he had a beaten up offensive line, a floundering running game and an underperforming Marvin Harrison. The performance notched the older Manning brother his third MVP trophy. He's also a 9-time Pro Bowler and a Super Bowl MVP (XLI).
2. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
Big Ben may not put up the most eye-popping numbers in the NFL, but the fans obviously appreciate his ability to just flat out win games. Roethlisberger has an amazing 51-21 regular season record in games he's played and is 8-2 in the playoffs including 2 Super Bowl wins. With weapons like former Super Bowl MVPs Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes at his disposal, there's no reason to doubt his production will fall off. Roethlisberger finished 2008 with 3,301 yards and 17 touchdowns.
3. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
The last season Tom Brady played more than one quarter of football, he won the NFL MVP in 2007. Since Brady missed nearly the entire 2008 season due to a knee injury, it's not a given that he will return to MVP form. But with a resume including four Pro Bowls, three Super Bowls, two Super Bowl MVPs, one NFL MVP and a career QB rating of 92.9, he gets the benefit of the doubt until he proves otherwise. It also doesn't hurt to have dangerous weapons like Randy Moss and Wes Welker at your disposal.
4. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
Adrian Peterson wasted no time proving he was the real deal, rushing for 1,341 yards in his rookie season in 2007. Last year he avoided the sophomore slump, tallying 1,760 yards. He has notched 22 touchdowns in two seasons and rushed for more than 100 yards 10 times in 2008. He's been to the Pro Bowl each season and was the game's MVP in 2008. If...or when...Brett Favre officially becomes a Viking, it could greatly help Minnesota's passing attack, making "All Day" even more dangerous.
5. Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles
Last season a roller coaster for Donovan McNabb as he got off to a horrible start, was benched, and then somehow managed to sneak the Eagles into the playoffs and into the NFC Championship game. In the offseason the Eagles took care of McNabb's contractual concerns, bolstered the offensive line, drafted a new target for him in Jeremy Maclin and added depth at running back with rookie LeSean McCoy. Even with the ups and downs of 2008, McNabb still finished with 3,916 yards and 23 touchdowns.