I love offensive linemen. Maybe it's because I was once an undersized guard at the same high school that produced Minnesota's All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson (hey, Steve, how's it feel to be the second-best lineman from that school?).
|The interior three: Rich Seubert (69), Shaun O'Hara (60) and Chris Snee. (US Presswire)|
They're not flashy and they don't cry out for attention. They don't scream Look at me! They just practice, play, hang out together, and sit back and watch as the others on the team bask in the limelight.
So I'm about to change that.
In my third-quarter NFL report, I'd like to give the MVP award to five men: The starters on the New York Giants offensive line.
The Giants, at 11-1, have the best team. They lead the league in scoring offense. They lead the league in rushing. None of the line starters has missed a game the past two seasons and Eli Manning has been sacked only 15 times, which ties the Giants with Cleveland for fifth best in the league.
So who are these five guys? The best player, right guard Chris Snee, is the son-in-law of Giants coach Tom Coughlin. The left tackle, David Diehl, is a converted guard who many questioned last season. The left guard, Rich Seubert, has started the past 28 games after Diehl moved to tackle. He also overcame a serious leg injury in 2003 that threatened his career.
Center Shaun O'Hara, is an undersized fighter who happens to be the old guy at 31. Right tackle Kareem McKenzie signed as a free agent in 2005 after starting his career with the crosstown Jets, where he was considered an underachiever.
These five have developed into the best line in the NFL.
So with no other real dominant candidates, the Giants line wins my three-quarter MVP award.
Your choice for NFL MVP so far?
Giants offensive line
Total Votes: 42,594
See what I mean?
So I'm bucking conventional thinking here and going with the Giants' starting five up front. They've all vowed to take the others to the Pro Bowl if one of them gets selected.
Snee's a lock, so he's buying. A couple of the others might join him, which might lessen the pain of paying.
After all, don't MVPs usually get to go to Hawaii?
MVP: The five Giants linemen will key their second Super push.
Runners-up: Giants QB Eli Manning, Redskins RB Clinton Portis, Cardinals QB Kurt Warner, Titans DT Albert Haynesworth, Saints QB Drew Brees, Broncos QB Jay Cutler.
Offensive Player: Brees. With little help from the running game, he's on pace to break Dan Marino's record for passing yards in a season.
Runners-up: Portis, Texas WR Andre Johnson, Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, Warner, Falcons RB Michael Turner.
Defensive Player: Haynesworth. The man is about to get paid as an unrestricted free agent. He can't be blocked. Runners-up: Cowboys LB DeMarcus Ware, Packers CB Charles Woodson, Jets DT Kris Jenkins, Giants DE Justin Tuck, Harrison, Ravens LB Ray Lewis, Titans CB Cortland Finnegan, Dolphins LB Joey Porter, Steelers S Troy Polamalu.
|Matt Ryan's an easy choice, even in a great year for rookies. (Getty Images)|
Runners-up: Titans RB Chris Johnson, Ravens QB Joe Flacco, Broncos WR Eddie Royal, Eagles WR DeSean Jackson, Bears RB Matt Forte, Texans RB Steve Slaton, Broncos OT Ryan Clady, Dolphins OT Jake Long.
Defensive Rookie: Jarod Mayo, Patriots. The linebacker flashes star ability when it comes to making plays. His speed really helps the defense.
Runners-up: Chiefs CB Brandon Carr, Chiefs CB Brandon Flowers, Redskins S Chris Horton, Falcons LB Curtis Lofton, Panthers S Charles Godfrey.
Coach: Mike Smith, Falcons. He has a team many picked to win two games already with eight victories and a good chance to make the playoffs. Unreal.
Runners-up: Jeff Fisher, Titans; Coughlin; Tony Sparano, Dolphins; John Harbaugh, Ravens.
Assistant: Dick LeBeau, defensive coordinator, Pittsburgh Steelers. The man is a coaching legend. He invented the Blitzburgh defense and it continues to play well under his guidance.
Runners-up: Jim Schwartz, defensive coordinator, Titans; Steve Spagnuolo, defensive coordinator; Giants; Kevin Gilbride, offensive coordinator, Giants; Rex Ryan, defensive coordinator, Ravens; Todd Haley, offensive coordinator, Cardinals; Mike Munchak, offensive line coach, Titans; Mike Mularkey, offensive coordinator, Falcons.
Most Improved: Carlos Rogers, CB, Redskins. He has developed into one of the better cover players in the league.
Runners-up: Cowboys DT Jay Ratliff, Cutler, Browns CB Eric Wright, Cardinals WR Steve Breaston, Titans S Michael Griffin, Jaguars WR Matt Jones, Falcons G Harvey Dahl, Bucs DE Gaines Adams, Packers S Nick Collins.
Comeback Player: Antonio Bryant, WR, Bucs. He was out of football in 2007 and now leads the Bucs in receiving with 57 catches for 736 yards and three scores. He always had the ability, but attitude issues held him back.
Runner-up: Patriots DE Richard Seymour, Dolphins S Yeremiah Bell, Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown, Panthers QB Jake Delhomme.
Best offseason acquisition: Turner. He's on his way to a Pro Bowl and has outplayed former teammate LaDainian Tomlinson.
Runners-up: Jets QB Favre, Jenkins, Vikings DE Jared Allen, Bucs C Jeff Faine, Dolphins QB Chad Pennington.
Worst free-agent pickup: Jerry Porter, WR, Jaguars. He has 10 catches. Yecch.
Runners-up: Raiders WR Javon Walker, Dolphins WR Ernest Wilford, Browns WR Donte Stallworth.
Best game: Denver 39, San Diego 38 in Week 2. Most will remember that game for the Ed Hochuli blown call that gave Denver the victory. Lost in that was a terrific game that saw the Chargers rally to take the lead in the second half.
Runners-up: Denver 34, New Orleans 32 in Week 3; Dallas 41, Philadelphia 37 in Week 2; New Orleans 37, San Diego 32 in Week 8; Arizona 30, Dallas 24 in Week 6; Minnesota 28, Green Bay 27 in Week 10.
Worst moment: Plaxico Burress bringing a gun to a club -- and then shooting himself. How dumb can you get?
Runners-up: Hochuli blowing the call in the Denver-San Diego game, costing the Chargers a victory and setting the tone for their season; Tom Brady going down with the knee injury in Week 1.