Super Bowl XLIV Preview: 5 Potential MVPs not named Manning or Brees

As part of our ongoing coverage of Super Bowl XLIV, here are five potential MVP candidates outside of Peyton Manning and Drew Brees.

1. Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts
Wayne only caught three passes for 55 yards in the AFC title game, but that was because he was locked up with stout corner Darrelle Revis, who has a habit of limiting a receiver’s impact. But Wayne caught eight passes for 63 yards and a touchdown against the Ravens in the Divisional Round and Revis won’t be anywhere near the field come Sunday. Wayne has five 100-plus yard receiving efforts this season and one more could earn him the Super Bowl’s highest achievement (outside of a ring of course). He only caught two passes against the Bears the last time he played in the NFL title game, but they went for 61 yards and a touchdown. If his quarterback doesn’t yank the award away from him, then Wayne could be taking home the MVP hardware come Sunday night.

2. Marques Colston, WR, Saints
In an era dominated by diva receivers, Colston is one wideout that is easy to root for. He’s quiet, unselfish and brimming with talent. He’s also reliable and if he gets enough opportunities, he might explode on Sunday and earn the MVP award in his first ever trip to the Super Bowl. In the Divisional Round, Colston hauled in six passes for 83 yards and a touchdown, and seems to save his best performances for top competition. In Week 6 of the regular season against the Giants, he caught eight passes for 166 yards and a touchdown, and in Week 12 against the Patriots he hauled in four passes for 121 yards and a score. Even in a losing effort against Dallas in Week 15, he caught five passes for 86 yards, including a 35-yard strike that led to a Saints’ field goal early in the second quarter. Outside of Brees, the only reason Colston might not have a fair opportunity to win the MVP award is because he’s on a team that is loaded with other receiving weapons. This is where the aforementioned unselfishness comes in, because there’s no doubt that Colston would rather catch one pass for 10 yards and win, than catch 10 passes for 150 yards and lose.

3. Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints
For all intents and purposes, Thomas didn’t have the year that many expected. He battled a knee injury earlier in the year and then lost carries to Mike Bell when the backup exploded for 143 yards in Week 1. But in the Saints’ two playoff wins, Thomas has averaged 16.5 touches per game with two touchdowns. He carried rib and ankle issues into the postseason, but he’s expected to be 100% and should play a key role for the Saints on Sunday. While Sean Payton loves to throw the ball, he also understands the importance of establishing the run and the Colts’ smallish front seven has been vulnerable on the ground in the past. Thomas could surprise come Super Bowl Sunday and be the true backbone of the Saints’ offense.

4. Dallas Clark, TE, Colts
After Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon burned the Jets in the AFC Championship Game, the Saints can’t prepare to defend the Colts the same way. That means Clark could have a field day if Indy’s offense is clicking on all cylinders. He’s a mismatch against linebackers and after Visanthe Shiancoe racked up four catches for 83 yards in the NFC title game, the Colts should have no problem figuring out ways to utilize Clark against the Saints’ pass defense. Outside of Reggie Wayne, Clark is Peyton Manning’s favorite target in the red zone and a multi-touchdown game out of the tight end is certainly a possibility, as is the MVP award. The only reason he isn’t higher on this list is because tight ends have taken home the award precisely zero times in the past 43 years. But hey, there’s a first time for everything.

5. Darren Sharper, S, Saints
Only four defensive players in the last 25 years have taken home the MVP award in the Super Bowl, but if there were any defender to do it this year, I’d put money on Sharper. The Vikings wanted to get younger at the safety position, which is why they didn’t re-sign the then 33-year-old Sharper last offseason. But the Saints had no problem handing Sharper a two-year contract in March of last year and all he’s done since then is given them a great return on their investment. In 14 games this season, Sharper registered 71 total tackles and nine interceptions, three of which he returned for touchdowns. He’s also coming off an 11-tackle effort against the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game and should have fresh legs with two weeks off to rest. Seeing as how this could be his last opportunity to play in a Super Bowl, Sharper will probably leave everything he has on the field and he might turn in one of those once-in-a-lifetime performances.

Comment Fodder: Considering the other candidates that weren’t listed (Reggie Bush, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, Jeremy Shockey, Joseph Addai, etc.), who do you think will win the MVP award outside of Manning and Brees?

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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