Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson are engaged in a two-man race for the NFL Most Valuable Player award. But Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt thinks it should be a three-man race.
Watt, a heavy favorite to win the Defensive Player of the Year award, told Mike Garafolo of USA Today that he believes he’s deserving of MVP consideration.
“Being a defensive player, I want a defensive player to win it, and I think I have as good a chance as any,” Watt said. “And if I’m not even in the discussion, I think it’s going to be tough for anybody to ever get into the discussion again. I would love to be a representative for defensive players.”
An Associated Press panel has voted on the NFL MVP since 1957, and in that time, only two defensive players have won it: Vikings defensive tackle Alan Page in 1971 and Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor in 1986. Quarterbacks have won it 35 times and running backs have won it 15 times. Based on that history, it seems awfully unlikely that Watt could top Manning and Peterson in the AP voting. And Watt realizes that.
“There’s obviously a strong lean toward the offensive players, which is understandable. I mean, quarterbacks and running backs touch the ball a lot more,” Watt said. “But when you look at a dominant year from a defensive player, I think they can affect the game just as much as an offensive player.”
Watt also said his first priority is to earn home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a win over the Colts on Sunday, and his second priority is to get at least 2.5 sacks: That’s how many he needs to break Michael Strahan’s single-season record of 22.5.
“I’m thinking about the win first and the record second,” Watt said. “It’s obviously on my mind, but I want a win. If I get the sack record along with the win, it would be a great day.”
Watt will probably have to satisfy himself with those two accomplishments, because an MVP is likely out of reach. But if the Vikings lose to the Packers while Peterson has a bad game on Sunday, and the Broncos lose to the Chiefs while Manning has a bad game on Sunday, and Watt breaks the sack record while the Texans win? If all that happens, Watt would have a strong case that he deserves to be the MVP.