Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL Nation [Print without images]

Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Mike Sando's MVP Watch

By Mike Sando

Aaron Rodgers deserves his own special MVP Watch category as the prohibitive favorite for the annual NFL award.

The rest of the field shouldn't even inhabit the same paragraph, let alone the same sentence.

Out of respect for Rodgers, I'll stall a little longer before addressing the other candidates.

Rodgers could conceivably take off the month of December and still command more votes than the others. Seriously.

Take away the Green Bay Packers' four December games and Rodgers' projected season totals would include 12 victories and nearly 4,000 yards, with 36 touchdowns and less than five interceptions. Brett Favre averaged 12 victories and about 4,000 yards during his three MVP seasons, with 37.7 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

OK, enough stalling. On to the rest of the MVP Watch list heading into Week 10.

I moved up the San Francisco 49ers' Frank Gore to No. 2 after Gore set a franchise record with his fifth consecutive 100-yard rushing performance. With arguably the NFL's best defense and special teams, the 49ers haven't needed or even sought to field a dynamic offense. Gore's tough, consistent running has largely been enough. He's averaging a career-best 19.9 rushing attempts per game despite dealing with ankle injuries that have limited his playing time occasionally.

There is still no viable comparison between the season Gore is enjoying and the seasons put forth by the two running backs to win MVP honors most recently.

Shaun Alexander was the 2005 MVP with 370 carries for 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns for a 13-3 team. LaDainian Tomlinson was the 2006 MVP with 348 carries for 1,815 yards and 28 scores, breaking Alexander's record for touchdowns in a season. Both played for dynamic offenses featuring Pro Bowl quarterbacks. They carried their offenses and also benefited from them.

As impressive as Gore has been lately, he's on pace to finish with 318 carries for 1,564 yards and 10 touchdowns. That would constitute a very good season, not a great one. He's largely carrying the offense, but there's a lot less offense to carry.