J.J. Watt or Aaron Rodgers for MVP? You can make a strong argument for either star: Watt just put the finishing touches on one of the most dominating seasons by a defensive lineman in NFL history while Rodgers is widely recognized as the greatest quarterback on the planet guiding one of the league's best teams.
In Around The NFL's latest wholly organic email exchange, we debate who deserves the hardware.
Dan Hanzus: No defensive player has won the MVP award since 1986. That was the year of Lawrence Taylor, a Hall of Famer with whom Watt shares the same defining characteristic: No defensive player since L.T. has dominated the game quite like Watt, a game-plan wrecker for the ages who already looks like a Canton lock at age 25.
Gregg Rosenthal: Rodgers had the best season by any quarterback since ... Aaron Rodgers in 2011. J.J. Watt had the best season of my lifetime. I don't think you can go wrong with the pick, but Watt gets my vote because he did more than anyone I've ever seen at his position. Yes, quarterbacks are always going to play a more important position. But Watt carried what was otherwise a completely mediocre defense.
Marc Sessler: Zero drama here. This award is engineered toward quarterbacks. Watt might nab MVP honors in a season when no signal-caller stood out, but Rodgers did the opposite. He'll win it.
I'd love to see Watt take this, because we could travel decades before seeing another defender dominate matchups so completely week after week. He willed the Texans to multiple victories and sets an example inside the locker room as the team's hardest worker.
But the quarterback position is the toughest in sports, and Rodgers makes it look easy. Trying to force someone else onto the throne is the equivalent of voting for Lyndon LaRouche.
DH: "We could travel decades before seeing another defender dominate matchups so completely week after week." That's exactly why there is plenty of drama this year. This is indeed an award engineered toward QBs, but Watt turns the whole conversation on its head.
Chris Wesseling: Everything I know about football and have seen on game film this year tells me that Rodgers is the best player in the league and easily the most valuable. He's playing the most important position in sports -- so important that Vince Lombardi used to tell cronies that the overinflated value of the position was football's lone flaw -- at the highest level it has ever been played.
Don't punish Rodgers for being too dominant for his own good. If his home games weren't laughers by halftime, he would have had a chance to reach those "magical" marks of 50 touchdowns and 5,000 yards. His value has been plain to see every time the Packers are forced to play without him, such as the seven-game stretch last season, his momentary absence vs. the Lions last week and even the hamstrung offense late in the loss to the Saints. Without Rodgers, this team has no prayer of going to the playoffs much less competing for a Super Bowl.
CW: All of this talk about Watt's rare dominance as if he didn't have a strikingly similar season in 2012. He was the best defensive player in football last season, and the Texans finished 2-14. His team went a pedestrian 9-7 this year against one of the softest schedules we have ever seen. Is that more valuable than what Rodgers brings to the table as a quarterback? Negative.
None of this is to diminish Watt's accomplishments. In my mind, his past three seasons are the most impressive by any defensive lineman in NFL history. He'll be rewarded with another Defensive Player of the Year award and a first-ballot bust in Canton someday. Recognition of a unique level of achievement is not an issue with Watt. It's common knowledge that he's already a legend in his time.
Don't cry for Watt. As special as he is, it's not out of the realm of possibility that he breaks Michael Strahan's sack record en route to leading the Texans to the AFC South title and an MVP award in 2015.
Conor Orr: Is it just me, or does it feel like we want another defensive player to win this award, sort of in the way we wanted a pitcher to take home a Cy Young and an MVP? Don't get me wrong, J.J. Watt is fantastic, and, unless he can duplicate this performance again next year, will probably be the last great chance we get to have this spirited debate. But I have to wonder what the Packers would be like without Aaron Rodgers this year, and in turn, how good the Texans would be without Watt. My guess would be that Green Bay would miss the playoffs (hot take, right?) and Houston would still be out, too.
GR: I can't force anti-Rodgers sentiment. He's had an incredible season. But he did have a few more stinkers (Seattle, Detroit and Buffalo) than we remember. So if we're splitting hairs, that's another reason to roll with Watt.
I like that both players essentially excel because they do things others at their position can't. No one is better at throwing across his body than Rodgers. No one is better at creating pressure from the inside than Watt. They are two generational players.
I suspect Watt won't get more than a few votes in the end. This is like when everyone debated Tom Brady or Michael Vick in 2010, and then Brady got every single vote.
DH Seriously though, there's a serious upset possibility in play. I agree with Conor's thought: It feels like a lot of people want Watt to win, perhaps out of the misguided notion that it makes us feel like smarter football fans and analysts to pick the charismatic D-lineman who dominates and bleeds a lot instead of rolling with another quarterback. Rodgers is the logical choice given the criterion involved, but something tells me he won't run away with this. This is one year where I'd be totally fine with a share of the award -- something we haven't seen since Peyton Manning and Steve McNair sawed the trophy in half in 2003.
CW: Never underestimate the sportswriter's need to feel like a smarter football fan.
DH: Wait, who's Lyndon LaRouche?