Mike Sando's MVP Watch

October, 20, 2010
10/20/10
12:00
PM ET
The call for not-so-obvious MVP Watch candidates went out Tuesday afternoon.

There were well-reasoned responses, such as the one from erik22lax nominating running backs Chris Johnson and LaDainian Tomlinson for flourishing without the benefit of polished passers.

Ericw_82 wondered why it mattered, figuring Peyton Manning would win a fifth MVP award pretty much no matter what.

A Seattle Seahawks fan, xea76, nominated safety Troy Polamalu despite a declared disdain for the Pittsburgh Steelers, while a St. Louis Rams fan found other Pittsburgh players worth a mention (not to overlook running back Rashard Mendenhall, either).

An Atlanta Falcons fan pointed to receiver Roddy White, while a few others agreed with RylanM in nominating Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews. San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates drew support from trevorjohnson1. TylerHanley went with Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub. Rams rookie Sam Bradford doesn't have the stats, but his impact has helped the team to a 3-3 start after years of futility, drawing a mention from jmssilva1221.

There were a couple of nominations made in jest, none more biting than sobek42's suggestion that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith deserved consideration because he had "won a game for five different teams." Another joker, ghosthoffa, thought Kurt Warner should win the award retroactively.

Support for Polamalu in particular convinced me to rank him 10th, where I once had Roddy White. I've tried to find worthy representatives for the teams with the best records, but there are also players from less successful teams. It's still early enough in the season for teams to rebound from disappointing starts.

After going through Twitter responses, I asked my fellow ESPN.com divisional bloggers for names of less obvious players to watch as the season progresses. Some pointed to Kevin Kolb, Ahmad Bradshaw, Osi Umenyiora, Hakeem Nicks, Eli Manning, Mathews, Philip Rivers, Gates, Kyle Orton, Schaub, Julius Peppers and Brandon Lloyd.

In the meantime, I'll submit the following 10 for discussion. Thanks to all who made suggestions.

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