NBCSports.com's Top 5 NFL MVP candidates
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
Larry Fitzgerald was arguably the most important cog in Arizona's offense last year that lifted them to an unlikely Super Bowl apperance. He's recorded more than 1,400 yards receiving and 10 or more touchdowns in three of the last four years. Fitzgerald recorded season highs in 2008 in receiving yards (1,431) and touchdowns (12). The Cardinals offense is still intact and has even added rookie running back Chris "Bearnie" Wells, so Fitz should be primed for another monster season.
4. Drew Brees, QB, Saints
Despite the Saints' offense dealing with injuries to top targets Marques Colston and Reggie Bush throughout the year, Drew Bress put up monster numbers in 2008, falling just 15 yards shy of breaking Dan Marino's record for passing yards, finishing with 5,069. He hurled 34 touchdowns and finished with a QB rating of 96.2. He's a two time All Pro and was named the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year in 2008. Brees threw for more than 300 yards 10 times last year and cracked 400 yards twice.
5. Andre Johnson, WR, Texans
Andre Johnson finished the 2008 season recording career highs in receptions and receiving yards totaling 115 receptions for 1575 yards (both of which lead the league) and tied his career-high in TD receptions with 8. It was the third time in five years that Johnson surpassed the 1000 yard mark. Johnson is a three time Pro Bowler and a two time All Pro (2006 and 2008). Johnson hauled in 10 or more passes six times last season and broke the 200 yard mark for the first time during Week 15.