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NFL MVP candidates so far

Anthony Fletcher discusses his opinion of the best NFL MVP candidates so far. (photo/ ESPN.com)

How do you determined the NFL MVP? Is it the best player on the best team, or is it the best player regardless of his team's record? In my opinion, it lies somewhere in between. I believe that it should go to the best player on a team that is at least competitive, and that is usually how it works. Look at every MVP from years past and look at their team's record; it is always no less than contending for a playoff spot. With that said, it is time to take a look at which players are in the discussion for the 2013 NFL MVP. Here are my top four players halfway through the season in no particular order:

The first player that comes to mind, and rightfully so, is Peyton Manning. His stats on a weekly basis are stellar and he is considered by many as the greatest regular season quarterback in NFL history. His arm strength has improved from last season but his effectiveness is due to his high football IQ, which is second to none. His ability to read defenses and audible to the correct play is like watch an artist at work. His stats on the season are astonishing, he has already thrown for numbers that most quarterbacks cannot accumulate in a season. Through eight games the Denver Broncos are 7-1, and Manning has thrown for 29 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, and 2,919 yards with a quarterback rating (QBR) of 119.4.

Second is New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. The Siants were 7-9 last season and quite simply, didn't look the same as years past. So far this season, New Orleans is 6-2 and in prime position to win the NFC South; much of that is due to the play of Brees. Through eight games, he has thrown for 21 TDs, 7 INTs and 2,672 yards, with a QBR of 104.5.

The third person on my list is none other than the man known as 'Megatron.' With his unbelievable size (6'5 and 240 lbs.), his blistering speed (4.3 40 yard dash) and his leaping ability (40 inch vertical), Calvin Johnson is virtually uncoverable. This has proven to be the case season-after-season, as it is once again in 2013 for the Detroit Lions wide receiver. Johnson is fresh off a 14 catch, 329 yard, and 1 TD performance against the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 27. On the year, he has 47 receptions for 821 yards and 7 touchdowns, and Detroit is in the hunt for a playoff spot at 5-3. Teams continue to double-team Megatron, which is opening opportunities for other Lions players like Reggie Bush and Chris Durham. Johnson seems guaranteed to provide a couple eye-popping highlights every week and he surely hopes that translates to a playoff berth.

My final mid-season MVP candidate is Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles. Charles has been the Chiefs most effective and dependable offensive player, while also being their biggest home run threat as well. The Chiefs are 9-0 so far, the only undefeated team left and in first place in the AFC West. Charles is not necessarily a big back at 5'11" and 199 lbs., but he runs extremely hard and is a reliable option in the passing game for QB Alex Smith. Up to this point, he has rushed for 725 yards on 170 carries and scored 6 TDs rushing. He has added 47 catches for 389 yards in the passing game. The Chiefs have yet to play their divisional foes, the Denver Broncos, so it will be interesting to see how those games turn out for Charles and the Kansas City Chiefs.

We still have about half of the regular season to go and as the weeks unfold, other candidates will emerge. As of right now, these are the four players who stand out the most and who lead the pack in the race for league MVP. There is still a lot of football to be played and the MVP race is another interesting sidebar to the drama that is the NFL. Here's to hoping the second half of the season is as fun to watch as the first.

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