Aaron Rodgers. Raymond T. Rivard photograph
It appears the 2014 NFL MVP Award race has come down to these two highly different, incredibly productive players.
Being from Wisconsin, the choice either way would be a good one, given that Aaron Rodgers plays for the Green Bay Packers and J.J. Watt is a home state boy … hailing from Pewaukee and playing for the Badgers at UW-Madison.
It’s an intriguing choice, to be sure, but an easy one in my mind.
Rodgers, despite what some say about his inability to play big in the big games, played as well in a single season as anyone in 2014 – and if the Green Bay Packers did not have him on the field as their quarterback, they wouldn’t have come close to even being in Seattle for that bizarre championship game.
Tonight, the night before Super Bowl XLIX, the NFL does its best to emulate Hollywood with its fourth annual NFL Honors program where all the stars come out for the presentation of the league’s most prestigious awards, including Most Valuable Player.
The event, which will kick off at 7 p.m. CST on NBC with the red carpet coverage, will move into the awards portion of the program at 8 p.m.
The Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers have already been named the winner of the Never Say Never Moment of the Year with the Packers last-second win over the Miami Dolphins in Week 6 of the regular season.
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It’s the second straight year Rodgers and the Packers have won that award.
You might remember the winning play from 2013 when Rodgers hit wide receiver Randall Cobb for the game-winning touchdown over the Chicago Bears to not only win the game, but it also gave the Packers their third straight NFC North Division title and a trip to the Playoffs. The Bears went home.
But when you consider the MVP Award, one has to define the award: Which player is most valuable to their team? In other words, if that player was not on the field, how would their team fare?
Well, for the Packers, it’s pretty clear that Rodgers drives the team from the game’s most important position – quarterback.
Conversely, how would the 9-7 Houston Texans have fared without Watt? Well, maybe a game or two difference?
Rodgers led the Packers throughout 2014 – including back-to-back games where the team put up 50-plus points. He led the Packers to huge wins over the New England Patriots and then, once again in the season’s final game against the Detroit Lions with the NFC North Division title once again on the line. Rodgers overcame a torn calf to lead the Packers to an impressive win and a home Playoff game.
Aaron Rodgers helped lead the Packers offense to incredible heights in 2014. Raymond T. Rivard photograph
Yes, Watt had an incredible personal season, but his play really didn’t help his team to greater heights – such as a playoff berth.
He recorded his second straight 20-sack season – a statistic that boggles the mind. But when one considers that half of his sacks came against Tennessee and Jacksonville, one wonders about overall consistency.
Yes, if one looks at any player’s statistics, you could point to specific teams that they do well against. You could argue the same thing about Rodgers and his career and season stats.
However, take a look at Rodgers’ play spread across 2014. Yes, he struggled against good defensive fronts; yes, he played well against poor defenses, but isn’t that what you want from your MVP? A player who can play just well enough to get wins against tough opponents and the player who can dominate when he’s supposed to dominate?
That’s what you get with Aaron Rodgers.
And he played the last few games on a gimpy left calf that immobilized his game … a fact that he most surely overcame during the playoffs.
One can only imagine what he would have done had he been healthy during that stretch of games.
J.J. Watt. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports photograph
On top of that, he is the face of the Green Bay Packers … and the best player in the NFL.
Better than Brady. Better than Manning. Better than Wilson.
And better than J.J. Watt.
However, there are those who feel that J.J. Watt should be the first defensive player since Lawrence Taylor to win not only the Defensive Player of the Year, but the MVP.
I’ll let them speak for themselves.
On the following pages, you will find the opinions of experts from around the media and how they feel tonight’s MVP Award should go … check it out.
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