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Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Mike Sando's MVP Watch

By Mike Sando

A message for the roughly 1,696 players on NFL rosters at any point during the season: This concludes the meaningful portion of the MVP race. Thanks for playing.

New England's Tom Brady, the NFL's highest-rated passer for the team with the league's best record, became the obvious choice Tuesday night without even playing. His only legitimate competition for the award, Michael Vick, took a physical pounding in defeat and barely finished the Philadelphia Eagles' game against the Minnesota Vikings.

Brady would join Joe Montana, Steve Young and Kurt Warner as two-time winners. Four-time winner Peyton Manning and three-time winners Johnny Unitas, Jim Brown and Brett Favre would stand as the only players with more.

Quarterbacks have won the award 35 times in 55 chances. Running backs have won 17 times. Alan Page (defensive lineman), Lawrence Taylor (linebacker) and Mark Moseley (kicker) are the only players from other positions to win the award.

That helps explain why quarterbacks and running backs -- OK, only one running back -- account for all 10 spots on my latest MVP Watch list.

San Diego's Philip Rivers fell off the list despite impressive numbers. MVP quarterbacks have posted a 12-3 record on average over the years (teams played fewer than 16 games before 1978). Rivers can finish no better than 9-7 after his Chargers lost by two touchdowns at Cincinnati with their season on the line.