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NFL MVP Forecast: J.J. Watt, Percy Harvin on the rise

After five weeks, the best players of 2012 have started to emerge. It's looking very unlikely we'll have a repeat winner of the NFL MVP award this season. 


1. J.J. Watt, Houston Texans

We asked last week if Watt possibly could keep up his pace. And then he dominated yet another game against the pass and run on "Monday Night Football" against the New York Jets. Defensive players never get considered for MVP awards, but they should. Watt has put up the most singular season in the NFL thus far.

2. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Ryan overcame a relatively slow start for the second consecutive week to perform fourth-quarter heroics again. With a home date against the Oakland Raiders before a Week 7 bye, it's safe to say Ryan will remain in our top two contenders for at least a few more weeks.

3. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

Brady's ability to run any kind of offense is rare. The Patriots mix up what they do each and every week, much less each season. The team's No. 1 running game goes back to Brady, who has been very accurate this season.

4. Eli Manning, New York Giants

Eli was far better in 2011 than he had ever been in his career. It was natural to wonder if he'd maintain those gains. Instead, he has taken things to another level. Advanced metrics peg Eli as the top quarterback in the NFL. He passes the eyeball test, too.

The Giants put more on Manning's plate than ever now. Up 34-20 last week, the Giants had a drive with seven passes and no runs. Never say Tom Coughlin can't change.

5. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

We had Big Ben in our top five last week when the Steelers were 1-2, so he's not dropping far after a terrific game-winning drive. Let down by his offensive line and running backs for most of this season, Roethlisberger overcame a number of drops from his receivers against the Philadelphia Eagles. He has eight touchdown passes and one interception during what could be his best year.

6. Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings

Harvin makes his first appearance on the list. With running back Adrian Peterson still rounding into shape, Harvin is the key to the Vikings' 4-1 start. He's their most explosive offensive player and a huge difference maker on special teams. He leads the NFL in all-purpose yards. He's a power runner. There simply isn't another player like him.

7. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals

Green defines value. The Bengals' offense isn't very good, and it might be among the NFL's worst if not for Green. He has made strides in his second season and already could be the best receiver in the league.

8. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans

He's coming off his worst game of the season, which wasn't even that bad.

9. Cameron Wake, Miami Dolphins

Wake quietly has been the best overall pass rusher in football, including Watt. It's not just the sacks. Wake gets a ridiculous amount of hurries and hits.

With apologies to Reggie Wayne, we're capping the list at nine this week. Anyone else felt like a stretch.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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