There is no question Peyton Manning is the frontrunner for MVP through the first five weeks of the season, but who would be the challengers to Manning if he fell off his historic pace? This is a question ESPN tackled last week and the list of candidates includes a familiar face.
From ESPN’s article by KC Joyner (insider required):
[Jamaal] Charles is the most likely candidate to replicate Peterson’s in-season production boom. According to ESPN Stats & Info, so far this year Charles ranks second in the league in yards from scrimmage (647), leads the league in first downs (36) and is fifth in rush yards after contact (186).
At minimum, Jamaal Charles is the MVP of the Chiefs. Dontari Poe fans could make a solid argument why he is the MVP, but many would probably select Charles as the MVP overall given his importance to the offense. Voters love numbers they trust and those numbers suggest that Charles is not only the leading rusher for the Chiefs but also the second leading receiver on the team. While the defense has been the catalyst for the Chiefs, Charles is the guy who has made that defensive prowess valuable.
The competitors for Charles’ throne would be quarterbacks Drew Brees and Andrew Luck, both of whom are worthy of the title of “Contenders to Peyton Manning’s MVP Lordship.” Any of those three players would be worthy of an MVP award, it is just a matter of how one defines MVP. However, Charles has the least to work with and has the least control over his situation than any of the other players mentioned. Charles has fewer chances to make big plays, but he is still comparable to the players who have more chances to make them. In short: Charles is a beast.
Whatever your standing is with Charles in the MVP race one should know this: Kansas City would be in a ton of trouble if Charles were not around.