Top Three NFL MVP Candidates

2011 is destined to be remembered as the year of the quarterback. Never before have so many QBs put up such staggering numbers, broken so many records or taken to the air so consistently. Aaron Rodgers broke Peyton Manning's passer rating record. Both Drew Brees and Tom Brady shattered Dan Marino's 27-year-old, single-season passing yards mark. And now, the three are in a race for NFL MVP.

Below you'll find opinions from different writers and bloggers as well as former players and coaches on the MVP debate:

Drew Brees

The Drew Brees-for-MVP campaign has been growing ever since Brees passed Marino for the all time single-season yards record. Yahoo! Sports Blogger MJD makes his case in his blog, Shutdown Corner:

"* Brees had significantly more passing yardage than Rodgers: 833 yards on the season.

* Brees also had more completions, more attempts, threw for more first downs, and had more completions for 20 yards or more.

* Completion percentages: Brees, 71.2 percent; Rodgers, 68.3%.

* You could argue that Rodgers is blessed with a better supporting cast. His team had the better record, after all, and the Green Bay Packers have the best wide receivers in the league. Brees has pretty good weapons, too, but if you wanted to, there's a supporting cast argument to be made.

* Along those same lines, the argument emerged yesterday that since Matt Flynn was able to be so successful for the Packers, Aaron Rodgers must be a "system quarterback", racking up huge numbers only because of the offensive scheme and players around him. You could make this argument, too, if you're into making really, really silly arguments."

* CBS analyst Bill Cowher: Drew Brees is "without doubt the Most Valuable Player in the National Football League."

Aaron Rodgers

Early in the 2011-12 season, Rodgers was considered the frontrunner and seemed poised to break most single-season QB records. Eventually, Rodgers would lose some ground to Brees and Brady near the end of the season, but still led his team to a nearly undefeated record and posted machine-like numbers.

* ESPN's Trent Dilfer: Rodgers is "only (quarterback) I've ever seen who can beat you four ways. … He beats you with his mind - his decision-making; he beats you with his release; he beats you with his speed and rotation on the ball - he can change speeds and locate; and he beats you improvising - with his legs."

* John Saraceno from USA TODAY: "A key statistical advantage Rodgers has over Brees is yards per attempt (9.2 to 8.2), an often-overlooked statistic that indicates passing proficiency. … Thanks to Rodgers' steady stewardship, Green Bay won a franchise-record number of games this season. For the first time since 1996, the Packers march into the playoffs as the NFC's No. 1 seed."

* ESPN's Cris Carter frames his pro-Rodgers MVP argument this way: "Tom Brady lost at home (24-20 to the New York Giants). Drew Brees got humiliated on the road - at St. Louis (a 31-21 defeat). Aaron Rodgers does not have a weakness."

* Jeff Howe of NESN.com: "This just happens to be Rodgers' year, and the voters have already spoken in his favor. Rodgers received 47 1/2 of the 50 votes for All-Pro (Brees got the other 2 1/2), and that should provide a major indication of which way the MVP will shake out when it's announced the day before the Super Bowl."

Tom Brady

Reigning MVP and future Hall of Famer Tom Brady is always in the mix.

* Pats' Blogger Christine Roy: "Don't forget about Tom Brady. After all, he was named the AFC Player of the Month for December/January. … We saw in Green Bay last week that the Packers offense is pretty stacked. Backup quarterback Matt Flynn was able to throw six touchdowns against Detroit. His TDs and 480 passing yards broke team records. Almost every time Patriots backup quarterback Brian Hoyer comes in, he hands it off and then takes a knee. … MVP stands for most valuable player and there's no denying Brady is the backbone of the Patriots. When he struggles, the team struggles. Rodgers and Brees have the stats over Brady but they don't have the impact."

* Jeff Howe of NESN.com: "Brady threw for 5,235 yards, the second most in history, and 39 touchdowns, the second highest output of his career. And he led the Patriots to a 13-3 record, which was the best mark in the AFC. Statistically, in terms of yards and touchdowns, Brady and Saints quarterback Drew Brees (5,476 yards, 46 touchdowns) were in a world of their own in 2011."

More from the Yahoo! Contributor Network:

Top Four Reasons the Green Bay Packers will not repeat as Super Bowl champions

Aaron Rodgers losing ground to Drew Brees in the NFL MVP race

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Green Bay Packers passing defense may cost them the Super Bowl

Tim Tebow makes life stranger than fiction

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Charles Joel is a member of the Yahoo! Contributor Network.
Updated Monday, Jan 9, 2012