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How NFL MVP Voting Works, And Why J.J. Watt Won't Win It This Year

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Rare is the defensive player that thrusts himself into legitimate contention for NFL MVP. J.J. Watt has done it. See why that's the case, as well as why the voting system will likely prevent him from winning, on Battle Red Blog.

M-V-P!  M-V-P!  M-V-P!
M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

It's all the (wholly justifiable) rage to suggest that J.J. Watt is the most valuable player in the NFL this year.  First, there's no real argument to be made that a better defensive player exists on this earthly plane. While only two other defensive players have ever won NFL MVP honors (the last one being  Lawrence Taylor nearly thirty years ago), J.J. Watt's 2014 season has been so freakishly unique that he's forced himself into the conversation.

3-4 defensive ends don't intercept passes. J.J. Watt does, and then he returns them 80 yards for a touchdown (note that we're not even counting this moment in Texans history for the purpose of this conversation).

3-4 defensive ends don't return fumbles for touchdowns. Sure, maybe there's the odd fumble recovery every once in a blue moon, but that's extraordinarily rare. This? Doesn't happen, unless J.J. Watt is involved.

3-4 defensive ends certainly don't catch passes for touchdowns. J.J. Watt does. Three times. And counting. If you're into this sort of thing, you can check out all five (5!) of J.J. Watt's touchdowns this season here.

Yet while Watt almost surely has his second NFL Defensive Player of the Year award already sewn up, it's equally unlikely he'll be named MVP by the Associated Press.

At the end of the regular season and before the playoffs begin, fifty (50) people vote on the award.  The vote is not done Heisman Trophy style, where voters fill out a ballot with players listed in first, second, and third place, with each spot objectively being assigned a certain number of points and the total tallied afterward.

Determining the Most Valuable Player in the NFL is done in the most simple way possible: Each voter has a single vote. He picks a single player. Voting process concluded.

Thus, while can argue where J.J. Watt stacks up against Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, DeMarco Murray, and Peyton Manning, the system doesn't really allow us to see how the voters answer that question.

For example, some voters may well think that J.J. Watt is the second most valuable player in the NFL, barely behind Rodgers in excellence for the 2014 regular season, but we won't see that. Instead, we'll just see that Rodgers got 40+ votes and was the runaway winner of the 2014 MVP award.  There are no points for second place.

With the Houston Texans currently sitting at 6-6, with the natural inclination to glorify quarterback play, with the history of defensive players being snubbed for the award, with legitimately deserving alternatives (Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady in particular), with the voting system being set up the way it is, do you really think J.J. Watt has a shot of being named 2014 NFL MVP?

I don't.

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