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NFL MVP forecast: Robert Griffin III climbs the ranks

Some years, there aren't a lot of great MVP candidates. Some years, the choice is obvious. This year, we really believe the first six players below all have a legitimate argument to win. The next month should be a lot of fun.

1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

He's making it look too easy, week after week. And that's before facing the Oakland Raiders. Manning now is atop ESPN's QBR ranking, which we've warmed up to. No. 2 in their stats also is No. 2 in our rankings.

2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

The Miami Dolphins' defense did a nice job disrupting Brady, although the two-time MVP also missed a few open throws. Brady can make a huge push for the MVP award with prime-time games against the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers the next two weeks. If he can dominate those matchups, he deserves the award.

3. J.J. Watt, Houston Texans

Watt has been on top of our MVP list for much of the year and remains in our top three. We're happy to see national voices like Jason Whitlock start to support defensive players in the MVP race. Fifteen and a half sacks and 15 passes defensed is outrageous. Watt could dominate against a banged-up Patriots interior front Monday night.

4. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

Peterson has a realistic chance to reach 2,000 rushing yards. If he averages 138.5 rushing yards per game over the last quarter of the season, he would do it. His pace over the last six weeks is far higher.

5. Von Miller, Denver Broncos

The pace that Watt and Miller continue at is remarkable. Miller had three hurries, a sack, a quarterback hit and a pick six against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Miller's matchup against underrated Raiders offensive tackle Jared Veldheer should be a good one.

6. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: He followed up one of his worst games against the New York Giants with a terrific performance against the Vikings.

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7. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins: RG3 is higher on our list than he has been all season.

8. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons: Ryan is lower than he has been all season. Just too many down weeks, like the game he had against the New Orleans Saints.

9-10. Andrew Luck + Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts: Luck is back on the list. You have to take a little bad with a lot of good in Luck's rookie season, but his aggressiveness is what makes him so great.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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