MVP Rankings: David Johnson joins the race

Mark J. Rebilas / USA TODAY Sports

There's no one who has the unanimous nod for this year's MVP award, so the final quarter of the season will be crucial for the league's top players to set themselves apart.

With every team having completed their bye and ready to sprint towards the season's end, here are the five stars with the best shot at taking home some personal hardware after the games have been played:

1. Derek Carr, QB, Raiders
3,375 passing yards, 65.5 completion percentage, 24 TDs, 5 INTs.

Through 12 games this season, the Raiders have scored at least 30 points eight times. There's a pretty good reason for that trend; its name is Derek Carr.

Carr led the Raiders to 28 straight points in the second half of Sunday's win against the Bills in his latest of high scoring victories, despite a fractured pinky finger. Carr's leadership skills have far outweighed his stats - which are still quite impressive - as players on both sides of the ball have credited him as a main reason for the Raiders' success.

2. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys
1,285 rushing yards, 12 TDs. 28 catches, 322 receiving yards, 1 TD.

It wasn't pretty, but there's no way the Cowboys would have extended their 11-game winning streak without Elliott last Thursday. The rookie runner continued to push his offense along, racking up 105 total yards and a touchdown against a stingy Vikings defense.

While the Cowboys may not believe it exists, the rookie wall looks like the only thing potentially capable of slowing down the Ohio State product. Elliott holds a 242-yard lead for the league's rushing title and while he runs behind the league's best offensive line, it was proven last year that blockers alone cannot build an offense.

3. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
2,470 passing yards, 68.9 completion percentage, 19 TDs, 1 INT.

If Brady was playing this way without that four-game suspension, there's no doubt he would be at the top of this list.

We all got a reminder of Brady's age and accomplishments on Sunday as he became the all-time winningest quarterback while his 2001 teammates celebrated the anniversary of their Super Bowl - which only made this year's performance all that much more amazing. At age 39, Brady looks as good as ever and proved that he didn't need his All-Pro tight end to maintain an explosive offense. Without Rob Gronkowski down the stretch, Brady's eliteness could become even more evident through December.

4. David Johnson, RB, Cardinals
1,005 rushing yards, 11 TDs. 64 catches, 704 receiving yards, 4 TDs.

The Cardinals have not been good this season, but they have found a way to keep their playoff chances alive. How? David Johnson, mostly.

Few running backs have ever displayed the receiving skills that Johnson has this season, while still sitting third in the rushing race. The second-year runner accumulated 194 receiving yards over the past two weeks, exploiting any team willing to cover him like a typical running back. Through 13 weeks, he leads the league in total touchdowns (15) and yards from scrimmage (1,709).

5. Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
3,142 passing yards, 65.3 completion percentage, 12 TDs, 5 INTs. 188 rushing yards, 1 TD.

The number aren't necessarily eye-popping for Wilson this season, on pace for the least amount of touchdowns in his career, but he's getting the job done.

Wilson leads one of the few championship-caliber teams this season despite a suspect offensive line and little consistency in a running game that dearly misses Marshawn Lynch. After battling lower-body injuries through the first stretch of the season, the former third-round pick led the team to a dominant win over the Panthers Sunday night 40-7.

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MVP Rankings: David Johnson joins the race
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