The Arizona Cardinals own the NFL's best record at 9-1 thanks to some strong individual performances, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a league MVP candidate on the roster. As any coach will tell you, football is the ultimate team sport. Seven other teams with winning records fell by the wayside when I pulled together my list of 10 leading MVP candidates through Week 11.
The five quarterbacks on my list are playing at a high level lately for teams that are winning and could not come close to contending without them. Two of the running backs have led revolutions on their own teams, setting them apart from others at a position that remains valuable even as the singular workhorse back becomes more scarce. The defensive players making the cut -- even though no defender has won the award since Lawrence Taylor in 1986 -- have disrupted opposing offenses consistently for teams that have won more with defense than offense.
Aaron Rodgers was an easy choice in the top spot, but some of the other picks were tougher to make. Take J.J. Watt, for instance. He might be playing his position as well as it has ever been played. At what point does the best player at a position other than quarterback become the most valuable one as well?
1. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers: Rodgers leads the league in yards per attempt, passer rating and Total QBR for an offense ranked first in expected points added, one of my favorite barometers for reasons explained here. When Rodgers won MVP honors in 2011, the Packers were undefeated through their first 10 games. Rodgers had 31 TD passes with four INTs during that 10-0 start in 2011. He has 28 TDs with three INTs while posting a 7-3 record this season.