November 11, 2008
The weeks are in the double-digits now, and I feel like that makes it entirely appropriate to begin talking about the race for NFL MVP. Or, way less importantly, the race for Shutdown Corner MVP.
The Shutdown Corner MVP is a lot like the NFL MVP, only no one gets a real trophy, and if they did, it would be something like the cheap effeminate darts trophy above that I purchased at a garage sale, and then crudely duct taped and wrote on with a magic marker.
The other difference is that there are no defined, standard criteria ... actually, I guess that isn't really a difference, though, it's a similarity. Another similarity is that I'm not going to bother with any charade that a defensive player or a lineman, despite the fact that they might be extremely valuable, could ever win this award.
That said, here's the short list for Shutdown Corner MVP:
1. Kurt Warner. He's got the league's highest QB rating, and an absurd completion percentage of 70.6. Lest you think that's the product of some dink-and-dunk system, he's also 4th in the league in average yards gained per attempt. The Cardinals have a dominating four-game lead in the NFC West. Anyone think that's happening with Matt Leinart under center? Put your hand down, Leinart. Your vote doesn't count.
2. Brandon Jacobs. I love the 5.3 yards per carry, which happens to be the highest among anyone with 100 carries or more. I love the nine touchdowns, second in the league. But what I love most of all is that when a man tries to tackle Brandon Jacobs, he knows damn well afterwards that he just tried to tackle Brandon Jacobs. It hurts. Seventeen times a game, it hurts. In the fourth quarter, that matters.
3. Drew Brees. Two biases exist here in the Shutdown Corner MVP chase. 1) Players on winning teams get the nod over players on teams that aren't so winning. And 2) Quarterback is the most important position on the field. This second bias is why I have Drew Brees (first in passing yards, 4th in passing TDs, and a 66.6% completion percentage with an 8.2 yards-per-attempt average) ahead of Clinton Portis.
4. Clinton Portis. Second in the league in rushing yards, a robust 5.0 yards per carry average, and an all-around game that includes superior blocking and receiving ability. Also has his pockets straight.
5. Andre Johnson. There are nine receivers in the league with 50 or more receptions. Andre Johnson leads them all with 67. But that's not the impressive part. Of all the 50+ reception guys, most of them aren't even close to Johnson's 900 yards. Larry Fitzgerald has 791 and Roddy White has 801, but that's the closest anyone comes to sniffing Andre's jock. He's also got 10 more receptions than either of them. That's dominant.
On the periphery...
Tony Romo. Third in the league in QB rating, but otherwise not all that notable. He does have a unique opportunity, though. If he comes back from injury, and the Cowboys immediately get their swagger back and start tearing up the league again ... that would make him pretty valuable, right?
Philip Rivers. Leads the league in touchdown passes, and is just a tiny, tiny, tiny little fraction beneath Kurt Warner's lead-leading QB rating. The fact that the Chargers aren't very good cripples him, but consider that they've had very little running game, and very little defense, and they're still just a game under .500.
Adrian Peterson. Leads the league in rushing and rushing attempts, but is going to have to pull off something mind-blowing in the second half to become a serious candidate.
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