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Wednesday, December 16, 2009
An early look at AFC East MVPs

By Tim Graham

Wes Welker, Darrelle Revis & Ricky Williams
Wes Welker, Darrelle Revis and Ricky Williams are in the running for AFC East MVP.
With three games remaining in the regular season and the AFC East standings so crammed, there are a lot of monumental plays to be made.

Even so, let's take a look at the top five candidates for the division's MVP -- at the moment. I will update the list each week until the season is over.

You'll notice there are no Bills on the list. I considered running back Fred Jackson and rookie safety Jairus Byrd. Either would be the team's MVP, but the best player on a losing club doesn't make my list ahead of the best player on a postseason contender.

1. Wes Welker, Patriots receiver: He missed two games with an injury but still leads the NFL with 105 catches and is second with 1,158 receiving yards. He is Tom Brady's go-to target and makes the offense hum.

2. Darrelle Revis, Jets cornerback: He's the best defender on the league's best total defense and best passing defense. Revis has evolved into one of the game's top two or three shutdown cornerbacks. He might be best of them all. His coverage allows the Jets to take risks elsewhere on the field.

3. Ricky Williams, Dolphins running back: When top running back Ronnie Brown suffered a broken foot in Week 10, everyone assumed the Dolphins' offense was doomed, that a 32-year-old wouldn't be able to shoulder the load. Williams has rushed for over 100 yards four times in his past five games and is 25 yards away from a 1,000-yard season.

4. Thomas Jones, Jets running back: He's the foundation for the NFL's top-rated rushing offense. Jones is second to Chris Johnson in AFC rushing with 1,167 yards. Jones is tied for third in the league with 11 rushing touchdowns.

5. Vince Wilfork, Patriots nose tackle: It's difficult to measure the worth of an elite nose tackle. They don't record many tackles or sacks. They're often occupying two, sometimes three blockers. Without Wilfork, however, the Patriots' defense would be a disaster.