OK, so it’s time we have the J.J. Watt talk.
It’s similar to the discussion we had about Rob Gronkowski a couple of weeks ago. Watt is the best football player in the NFL right now. That’s a tough thing to define given how many different and collective skills are needed to win football games, but the Houston Texans defensive end brings more to the table than anyone else.
He shows off those skills on a weekly basis. He’s got freakish size, which is complemented by otherworldly athletic ability. His motor is second to none.
This all manifests itself in different ways. Sometimes, it’s when Watt comes around the edge in a blink of an eye for a sack. Other times, it’s when he’s able to scoop up a loose ball and take off running all in one motion. And as we’ve seen this season, he’s also a legitimate red-zone threat when lined up as a tight end for the Texans.
Sometimes, as was the case in Week 13, all of those things come together in a dominant performance like Watt had against the Tennessee Titans.
The question as it pertains to the MVP is clear, though: Watt might be the best football player, but is he the most valuable player?
To the MVP power rankings we go …
1. Aaron Rodgers, Quarterback, Green Bay Packers (Last week: 1)
What can you say about Rodgers that wasn’t said after his Packers slowed down the Patriots? Rodgers is the best quarterback in the league and in his prime. He has picked it up a notch since a loss to the New Orleans Saints a few weeks back, leading the Packers to four consecutive wins while completing 83 of 130 passes for 1,233 yards and 13 touchdowns with no interceptions. That’s decent.
Week 13 stats: 24-of-38 passing for 368 yards and two TDs with no INTs in 26-21 win over Patriots
Season stats: 9-3 record, 32 TD passes, three INTs, 8.8 yards per attempt, 66.3 percent completion percentage
2. J.J. Watt, Defensive end, Houston Texans (Last week: 5)
Last week’s No. 5 ranking looks a little ridiculous at the moment. The thing about Watt’s MVP candidacy is that when he has an incredible game, it looks so more impressive than just, say, a “good” game from one of the top quarterbacks. So how do you rank Watt’s (growing) collection of “Holy (expletive)” moments and games against quarterbacks on the NFL’s best teams? It’s not easy. It’s also perhaps the best argument to be had to add a “defensive MVP” award. If that existed, you might as well name it after Watt.
Week 13 stats: 2.0 sacks, fumble recovery, receiving TD
Season stats: 11.5 sacks, one INT (for TD), five fumble recoveries (one for TD), three receiving TDs
3. Tom Brady, Quarterback, New England Patriots (Last week: 2)
A win over the Packers likely would have landed Brady in the top spot. Instead, he’s leap-frogged after Watt’s ridiculous performance. However, it sure wasn’t Brady’s fault the Patriots left Lambeau Field with a loss. Brady was fine — not bad, not great — and made a couple of great red-zone throws for touchdowns.
Week 13 stats: 22-of-35 passing for 245 yards and two TDs with no INTs in 26-21 loss to Packers
Season stats: 9-3 record, 28 TD passes, six INTs, 7.2 yards per attempt, 64.8 percent completion percentage
4. Peyton Manning, Quarterback, Denver Broncos (Last week: 3)
The Broncos now have a running game with the emergence of C.J. Anderson, and that could do wonders for Manning. Game-planning for the Broncos is even more difficult when you have to take time away from trying to slow down all those weapons and account for Anderson, too. As for Manning, he was just OK (very relative) against the Chiefs, but he did more than enough in a big divisional road win.
Week 13 stats: 17-of-34 passing for 179 yards, two TDs and no INTs in 29-16 win over Chiefs
Season stats: 9-3 record, 36 TD passes, nine INTs, 7.9 yards per attempt, 66.8 percent competion percentage
5. DeMarco Murray, Running back, Dallas Cowboys (Last week: 4)
Murray had a golden chance to impress in front of a national TV audience on Thanksgiving. Unfortunately for him and the Cowboys, it was a forgettable afternoon. The Cowboys were blown out by the Philadelphia Eagles, which certainly wasn’t Murray’s fault. However, if he’s going to be a serious MVP contender among these franchise quarterbacks and Watt, he’ll need to put up record-breaking numbers down the stretch and propel the ‘Boys to the playoffs. Good luck with that.
Week 13 stats: 20 carries for 73 yards, one TD in 33-10 loss to Eagles
Season stats: 288 carries for 1,427 yards, 5.0 yards per carry, eight TDs
6. Rob Gronkowski, Tight end, New England Patriots (Last week: 6)
The bar for Gronkowski is set so darn high. He caught seven passes for 98 yards Sunday in Green Bay, and you could make an argument that the Packers did a really good job of slowing him down. Again, he almost had 100 yards receiving on the day.
Week 13 stats: Seven receptions for 98 yards in 26-21 loss to Packers
Season stats: 65 receptions for 910 yards, nine TDs
Thumbnail photo via Troy Taromina/USA TODAY Sports Images