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NFL MVP forecast: Peyton Manning leads Tom Brady

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are battling for a potential MVP award. Welcome to five years ago. There are other quality candidates for the honor, but the top two on our list just happen to be the best two players of the last decade.

1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

Manning was good against the Kansas City Chiefs, but not great. The performance wasn't enough to knock him out of our top spot. For all the talk about Manning's arm strength, he is tied for the NFL lead in plays over 20 yards this season.

2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

Brady's Patriots pasted Manning's Broncos head-to-head, which could help Brady's case among voters if New England wins a few big primetime games against the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers down the stretch.

His 24-to-3 TD-to-INT ratio is starting to look like his ridiculous 36-to-4 number from 2010, the last time Brady won the MVP.

3. J.J. Watt, Houston Texans

I'm fighting a losing battle with Watt's MVP candidacy, but his Thanksgiving performance helped his case: Five QB hits, four tackles for loss, three sacks and two passes defended. People still don't appreciate the season he's having.

4. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

He rushed for 100 yards against the great Chicago Bears defense after a slow start to the game, which included another lost fumble. Peterson probably needs a huge game in an upset over the Bears or Green Bay Packers in the next two weeks for a realistic chance at the MVP.

5. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts

Another 100-yard game for Wayne, this time against the Buffalo Bills. The variety of his routes are amazing. Coach Bruce Arians and rookie quarterback Andrew Luck have revived Wayne's career. Yahoo's Doug Farrar smartly pointed out that Arians is using Wayne in a similar fashion to how Hines Ward was used in Pittsburgh.

6. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons: Four incompletions. 353 yards. One interception that led to points. Another last-minute win. Ryan's season in a nutshell.

7. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: He might not be able to overcome his offensive line enough to win MVP in back-to-back seasons.

8. Von Miller, Denver Broncos: His play against the run lifts him over Aldon Smith on our rankings.

9. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints: His pick six against the 49ers turned that game around. Brees never saw linebacker Ahmad Brooks.

10. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins: He's back on the list after back-to-back near flawless performances. He's fifth in ESPN's QBR rating. Andrew Luck is fourth.

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