2011 NFL Predictions: Chargers QB Philip Rivers Will Win MVP Award

San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers never gets the credit he deserves. Whether it be his loudmouth attitude or playing on the West Coast, Rivers gets overlooked in any discussion about the best QBs in the NFL. That will all change this season because Rivers will win the Most Valuable Player Award.

Rivers has started every game over the past five seasons, a streak bettered by only the Manning brothers among active quarterbacks. Over the past three seasons, he has accumulated nearly 13,000 yards and thrown 92 touchdowns despite a receiving core that lacks depth. He has had a QB rating over 100 in each of those seasons.

The most impressive stat for Rivers is his yards per attempt. Since the Chargers only pass on 54 percent of their plays, as opposed to 58 percent for Aaron Rodgers and 63 percent for Peyton Manning, Rivers' numbers are a result of his league-leading 8.7 YPA.

If the Chargers were to ramp up the passing game to a Colts-like level, which would give Rivers an extra 130 attempts to work with, his numbers would be mind-boggling. Assuming he was able to maintain his YPA pace over those extra 130 passes, Rivers would have thrown for over 5,800 yards in 2010. That would've broken Dan Marino's record by 800 yards.

As Manning would attest, however, the more you pass the more prepared the defense is to stop it. Nevertheless, Rivers would have easily broken Marino's mark with a more air-oriented offensive gameplan.

Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert give Rivers a useful running game that allows for more open lanes, especially on play action. The offensive line struggled last season, giving up more than two sacks per game, but Rivers was able to stay healthy and showed no fear in the pocket.

Malcom Floyd's decision to return to San Diego provided a significant boost to Rivers' MVP hopes. Floyd gives San Diego the receiving depth that was missing while he was testing the free agent market. Patrick Crayton, Seyi Ajirotutu and Laurent Robinson are more suitable for third and fourth receiving jobs as opposed to being starters.

Rivers connection with main target Vincent Jackson, who will be aiming for a big contract in free agency after the season, will allow him to put up gaudy stats again in 2011. And you can never forget about Antonio Gates either, even though he does battle nagging injuries seemingly ever week.

It's time for the football writers to take notice of Rivers' amazing ability. He'll likely complete nearly two-thirds of his passes, approach or surpass Marino's passing yards record, throw more than 30 touchdowns and lead the Chargers to the playoffs.

While those may seem like lofty expectations, it is pretty close to what Rivers did last season. If the Chargers overtake the Chiefs in the AFC West, which they should, Rivers should finally win the MVP Award he could have easily won in any of the past three seasons.

--Tim Daniels

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