NFC West MVPs

December, 11, 2008
12/11/08
4:19
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The division with the fewest combined victories -- 17, one fewer than the AFC West -- has managed to produce an MVP front-runner. Kurt Warner isn't the only NFC West player proving his value this season. A quick look at my MVP for each team:

Warner

Arizona Cardinals, QB Warner:
Skeptics wondered if Warner might be too old to play at an MVP level. Entering Week 15, age falls well down the list of numbers most closely associated with this two-time former award winner.

Warner has a realistic chance at 5,000 yards passing. He has the Cardinals in the playoffs for the first time since 1998. He is also in the running for a third career league MVP award and his first since 2001 with the Rams.

"I think I've played as well as I have ever played this season," Warner told reporters Wednesday. "I'll never say that I am playing better than I did in some of those years with the Rams because we played at an extremely high level, but I feel like I am playing just as well at this stage of my career."

Carlson

Seattle Seahawks, TE John Carlson:
The rookie second-round choice needed 13 games to tie the single-season franchise record for receptions by a tight end. Carlson leads the Seahawks in receptions, receiving yards and total touchdowns. He bulls over defenders with the ball in his hands and can make difficult catches against tight coverage.

Carlson's efforts, though impressive for a rookie, wouldn't be enough to earn team MVP honors in most seasons. The Seahawks simply lack worthy candidates during this 2-11 season.

Carlson's 46 receptions match the total for Itula Mili in 2003, when Mili set the franchise record for tight ends. Jerramy Stevens caught 45 in 2005.

Jackson

St. Louis Rams, RB Steven Jackson:
Jackson isn't enjoying a strong season by his standards, but at 2-11, the Rams aren't exactly stocked with worthy candidates.

Jackson missed training camp during a holdout, missed games after suffering a bruised thigh and lost two critical fumbles against the Cardinals in Week 14.

He's still the easy choice as the Rams' MVP.

The Rams are 1-1 when Jackson rushes for 100 yards this season. They are 1-10 in the other games. They lost by a combined six points in the two other games when Jackson topped 70 yards rushing.

Gore

San Francisco 49ers, RB Frank Gore:
Gore was the most important and valuable player on offense before and after the 49ers switched coaches and offensive philosophies. He has ranked among the league leaders in yards from scrimmage most of the season.

Gore leads the 49ers in rushing with 978 yards and a 4.3-yard average. He ranks second in receptions with 42 and first in touchdowns with eight.

Gore is also a willing pass blocker. He runs hard, breaks tackles and punishes defensive players far more than most running backs his size.

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