Heading into "NFL Honors", a two-hour primetime awards special airing nationally on Feb. 4, from 9-11 p.m. ET on NBC, we've asked our analysts to chime in with their own selections for the league's most prestigious individual accolades.
Today's topic of debate is NFL MVP. Not surprisingly, the quarterback position is well-represented in this race. While Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers set an NFL record with a passer rating of 122.5 in 2011, New Orleans Saints signal-caller Drew Brees countered with a single-season record of 5,476 passing yards. And the two quarterbacks facing off in Super Bowl XLVI (the New England Patriots' Tom Brady and New York Giants' Eli Manning) enjoyed prolific seasons, as well. Of course, there are other positions on the field, too. Freakish wide receiver Calvin Johnson comes to mind, as he helped carry the Detroit Lions to their first playoff berth since 1999.
So, let's take it to the panel: Who was the NFL's Most Valuable Player this season?
I'm rolling with Aaron Rodgers. Drew Brees broke records and shattered defensive coordinators -- two within his division, Buccaneers head coach/defensive coordinator Raheem Morris and Atlanta's Brian VanGorder, are no longer with their teams. Rodgers, though, was staggering with the plays he made and how he carried a team with a shaky defense and barely any semblance of a running game. OK, he has a sweet stable of receivers that rarely let him down, but his evolution into a total quarterback, and the fact that he got the Packers to 15-1, make him The Dude.
- Jason Smith NFL.com
No one was more indispensable than Houston's Foster
The MVP of the NFL this season was without a doubt Arian Foster. Yes, a bunch of quarterbacks put up video game numbers, but take a closer look at Foster's immense value. After Matt Schaub went down, you thought Houston was done. But in the second half of the season, Foster put the team on his shoulders and guided the Texans to the franchise's first ever AFC South title. Over 1,800 total yards of offense, despite missing nearly three full games? With Matt Leinart, T.J. Yates, Jake Delhomme and Dan Pastorini playing QB for Houston? No one was more indispensable.
Aaron Rodgers is MVP. He had one of the best seasons in NFL history at the quarterback position, while leading a first-place team. The Packers went 15-1, with Rodgers throwing 45 touchdown passes to a minuscule six interceptions. Drew Brees and Tom Brady certainly merit consideration, but this was Rodgers' year.
There are a lot of great candidates -- including Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady -- but I like Eli Manning because his team is in the Super Bowl and he's been brilliant all season long, especially in the fourth quarter when his team needed him most.
It IS a legitimate debate. And frankly, Tom Brady needs to be in the discussion, too. I'm not quite sure why, but sometimes we seem to take "Tom Terrific" for granted. For me, though, despite Drew Brees breaking Dan Marino's record for yardage in a season, Aaron Rodgers' season was phenomenal. Numbers? Check. Wins? Check. Overall feel of how he played? BIG check.