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MVP rankings: Who's leading race for top honor in Week 16?

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Now that we've hit the stretch run for the 2016 NFL season, Gregg Rosenthal will handicap the MVP race each Friday until the end of the regular season.

Note: Arrows reflect changes from last week's MVP Ranking.

RANK

1

Tom Brady, QB, Patriots

Brady played a better game in Denver than the numbers show, adjusting to the Broncos' game plan in the second half like few other quarterbacks can. He is set up for a strong closing MVP statement against the Jets and Dolphins, the same division rivals that ruined New England's bid for the AFC's No. 1 seed a year ago. Brady and his offensive line are playing too well to let that happen again.

RANK

2

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons

Ryan throwing for 286 yards on 22 attempts against the 49ers might be his defining box score of the season. No quarterback better combines big plays and efficiency. Yet, the country yawned, because it's the Falcons (and because they were playing the 49ers). This week's matchup against the Panthers gives Ryan a chance to slay the three-time defending division champions, while possibly clinching the NFC South for Atlanta.

RANK

3

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys

Zeke's Salvation Army bucket list moment, not to mention his 42-yard scamper in the fourth quarter, should leave an impression with MVP voters. Elliott needs 258 yards to break Eric Dickerson's all-time rookie rushing record. That's the type of shiny achievement that could help Elliott in such a tight race.

RANK

4

Le'Veon Bell, RB, Steelers

We were worried about how Bell would hold up after 42 touches against the Bills, but he dropped 131 yards from scrimmage in 28 touches in Week 15 against the Bengals. How insane has Bell's season been? That's actually his lowest output since Week 9.

RANK

5

David Johnson, RB, Cardinals

Johnson is a prime candidate to win one of sport's strangest awards: Offensive Player of the Year. In this case, that award would essentially mean: "Best player on a losing team."

RANK

6

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers

1

The Bears called the perfect blitz more than once against Rodgers and he still made them pay with pinpoint throws down the field. Perhaps more than any quarterback, Rodgers makes it obvious when he's feeling it. On days like that, he will try any throw and probably make it. He's been feeling it for a month straight.

RANK

7

Derek Carr, QB, Raiders

1

Carr played better than his numbers indicated in the victory over San Diego, but he had a curious red-zone interception with no pressure around him. Voters remember how you finish, so Carr could use a big game after a relatively sluggish December.

RANK

8

Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions

2

One trademark to Stafford's season: His "bad" games haven't been that bad. Detroit couldn't come up with answers to the Giants' blitzes, but Stafford was unlucky not to score more against the Giants. He's probably the last guy on this list with any chance left to actually win the MVP award.

RANK

9

Andrew Luck, QB, Colts

1

His performance against the Vikings is what happens when Luck is protected well. And it's a joy to watch. Luck will try to keep the Colts' season alive this week against Carr in a sneaky-fun Week 16 matchup.

RANK

10

Odell Beckham, WR, Giants

NR

Receivers like T.Y. Hilton have better numbers, but consider where this Giants offense would be without Beckham bailing out Eli Manning so often. It's not that crazy to imagine their wins and losses being flipped.

Dropped out: Von Miller, LB, Broncos (Last week: 9).

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