Not everyone spent their weekend in a turkey coma - these NFL stars did their best to boost their MVP credentials as we head into the 2014 season's stretch run. The field is narrowing, and at this point we can see only seven players with a legitimate chance at winning MVP honors...let's take a look at how they did in Week 13:
7. DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys RB
Stats: 20 carries for 73 yards and a TD, 6 receptions for 40 yards in a 33-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles
Stock: Down. Murray had a very good game for Dallas, but the way they lost hurts his MVP stock, fair or not. Murray is only a viable MVP challenger as long as the Cowboys play like a real contender...and they failed to look like one against the Eagles on Thursday. The Cowboys' stretch run - at Chicago, at Philadelphia, home vs the Colts, at Washington - will be absolutely crucial for both Murray and his team.
6. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots TE:
Stats: 7 receptions for 98 yards in a 26-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers
Stock: Unchanged. Gronk was his usual beastly self today, but the lack of touchdowns - and a win - don't help him much here. It's hard to see Gronkowski gaining ground without two or more monster performances down the stretch - we're talking 150+ yards and multiple touchdowns. It might not be fair, since so much of Gronkowski's value lies in his dominance as a blocker, but that's just how it is for position players trying to win an award that strongly favors quarterbacks.
5. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts QB
Stats: 19/27 with 370 passing yards, 5 TDs and 1 INT in a 49-27 win over the Washington Redskins
Stock: UP. Luck lost a fumble and threw a pick on his first two drives of the game...but effectively pitched a shutout from there. The Stanford product carved up the Redskins secondary today, gaining some vital ground on the competition. Washington's defense might not be the best indicator, but Luck certainly looked like an MVP against them.
4. Tom Brady, New England Patriots QB:
Stats: 22/35 with 245 passing yards, 2 TDs and no INTs in a 26-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers
Stock: Down. It's not like Brady was bad today - you really can't pin this loss on him - but his stock will slip nonetheless. Losing to one of your main competitors for the MVP title hurts no matter what the circumstances were, and Brady will need to clean up against his remaining opponents (San Diego, Miami, NY Jets, Buffalo) if he wants to rebound.
3. J.J. Watt, Houston Texans DE
Stats: 3 tackles (3 solo), 2 sacks, 6 QB hits, 1 1-yard TD reception in a 45-21 win over the Tennessee Titans
Stock: UP. The more the Texans feature Watt on offense, the better his chances get...and he hauled in yet another touchdown pass, which gives him 5 total TDs on the year. Watt is fighting an uphill battle as a defensive player gunning for the MVP award, but having more touchdowns on the year than some of the league's most famous offensive players certainly can't hurt his case.
2. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos QB:
Stats: 17/34 with 179 passing yards, 2 TDs and no INTs in a 29-16 win over the Kansas City Chiefs
Stock: Unchanged. Manning was solid in a crucial win over a divisional opponent, but Denver's game plan saw him take a back seat to running back C.J. Anderson (32 carries, 168 yards). You won't see Manning throw for under 200 yards often, and fortunately for his MVP candidacy, it came in a big win.
1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers QB:
Stats: 24/38 with 368 passing yards, 2 TDs and no INTs, 5 carries for 22 yards in a 26-21 win over the New England Patriots
Stock: UP. In a rare head-to-head matchup with fellow MVP candidate Tom Brady, Rodgers came out on top thanks to another excellent performance. Rodgers continue to get production out of new and different receivers - this time, it was Davante Adams with six catches for 121 yards - and the Packers are 8-1 since he told fans to 'relax' back in September. With remaining games against Atlanta, Buffalo, Tampa and Detroit, Rodgers has the smoothest path to the MVP trophy.
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