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Antonio Smith: J.J. Watt deserves NFL MVP honor

It's hard to imagine where the Houston Texans would be this season without J.J. Watt's stellar play.

Watt is tied with Aldon Smith for an NFL-leading 19.5 sacks -- three shy of Michael Strahan's league record of 22.5 -- and the Texans know his value extends far beyond takedowns.

Watt's teammates are making a push for the pass rusher to be seen alongside the league's top-flight quarterbacks as legitimate MVP material. Watt clearly is the Defensive Player of the Year barring a stunner -- nobody is close -- but defenders rarely are players in the MVP race.

"Frankly, I'm just tired of everybody thinking that only offensive players can be MVP," fellow pass rusher Antonio Smith told the Texans' official website. "Get out of the old, step into the new. Vote J.J. Watt."

Not to toot our own horn here, but Gregg Rosenthal has talked up Watt as an MVP candidate all season long. He's not alone on that front, but Smith makes a strong point. There hasn't been a defensive MVP since Lawrence Taylor won the award in 1986.

Offensive game plans are shaped around Watt and disrupted by Watt in a way that recalls the havoc wreaked by L.T. more than a quarter-century ago. It might time to rethink the MVP award and what it means here in 2012.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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