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Pro Football Weekly

When push comes to shove, which NFL players will push their games to MVP-type heights in 2004? Here, we project the players we believe will be the the most valuable performers on both offense and defense for each team this coming season.

Arizona Cardinals

Offensive MVP: WR Larry Fitzgerald

With WR Anquan Boldin sidelined until at least Game Five, the team's No. 1 pick figures to be the offense's featured attraction. Fitzgerald is familiar with Dennis Green's offensive philosophy from his days as the Vikings' ball boy, and he has been working at all three WR positions in training camp.

Defensive MVP: DE Bertrand Berry

Obtained in free agency in the hopes of bolstering Arizona's weak pass rush, Berry has quickly won the respect of his new teammates, working as hard as any player in training camp while displaying the skills that produced 111z2 sacks for the Broncos last season.

Atlanta Falcons

Offensive MVP: QB Michael Vick

Vick showed just how valuable he is when he was injured last season, and the Falcons' 2004 season hinges on just how well he adjusts to the team's new offense. Vick still is the most electric player in football and is the catalyst for Atlanta.

Defensive MVP: DT Rod Coleman

Coleman is an anchor in the middle who has to set the tone for the Falcons' run defense. Without Coleman creating havoc in the middle of the line, the Falcons will go nowhere.

Baltimore Ravens

Offensive MVP: RB Jamal Lewis

The focal point of the Baltimore offense -- end of story. If Lewis runs like he did a season ago, when he was oh-so-close to breaking the single-season rushing record, QB Kyle Boller can take his time learning on the job.

Defensive MVP: LB Ray Lewis

He sets the tone for the defense, the team, the franchise. Maybe he's lost a step, but the rare anticipation skills are still there, and there isn't a better leader in the game.

Takeo Spikes will be the leader on Buffalo's defense.

Buffalo Bills

Offensive MVP: QB Drew Bledsoe

He's out to prove that his dismal 2003 season was an aberration, not a trend. A deep, talented group of skill-position players should help him do just that.

Defensive MVP: LB Takeo Spikes

Spikes is a fast, physical and hardworking player who should take his game up a notch in his second year in the Bills' aggressive defensive scheme.

Carolina Panthers

Offensive MVP: WR Steve Smith

The Panthers will lean on RB Stephen Davis heavily, but Smith is the real playmaker for Carolina. His speed can change the game on any given play, and his new attitude should make him a leader.

Defensive MVP: DT Kris Jenkins

DEs Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker get all the press, but Jenkins is the key cog in the Panthers' defense. He collapses the pocket and forces quarterbacks into the waiting arms of the DEs, which forces bad throws that lead to turnovers.

Chicago Bears

Offensive MVP: RB Thomas Jones

Jones has been cast in the role that helped make Priest Holmes an All-Pro for Kansas City. If he holds up physically, Jones will have every chance to make a big impact.

Defensive MVP: MLB Brian Urlacher

Urlacher has everything Lovie Smith wants on defense -- size, speed and talent.

Cincinnati Bengals

Offensive MVP: WR Chad Johnson

He emerged as one of AFC's best wideouts in 2003. Johnson's immaturity can be frustrating at times, but he is committed to his craft. He is expected to take another step forward this season.

Defensive MVP: CB Tory James

The tall, rangy James was everything the Bengals hoped he would be when they signed him away from Oakland before last season. James and Deltha O'Neal form potentially one of the better CB tandems in the AFC.

Cleveland Browns

Offensive MVP: QB Jeff Garcia

Garcia is expected to give the Browns the consistency and playmaking ability Tim Couch was supposed to bring to the position. The key for Garcia comes down to how a somewhat shaky offensive line protects him.

Defensive MVP: LB Andra Davis

Of the three linebackers (Kevin Bentley and Ben Taylor being the others) Butch Davis drafted in 2002, Davis has emerged as the star of the group. Davis' aggressiveness and productivity go a long way on a defense that sometimes lacks those attributes.

Dallas Cowboys

Offensive MVP: OLT Flozell Adams

He was the team's best offensive player last season for a unit that averaged only 18 points. The veteran additions of RB Eddie George, WR Keyshawn Johnson and QB Vinny Testaverde all will have an impact, but none dominates at his position like Adams.

Defensive MVP: DT La'Roi Glover

The problem last season - and it's not like Glover did not have a good year - was that Glover did not have a lot of DL help except for DE Greg Ellis. Now, with decent depth, Glover should dominate the inside again.

Denver Broncos

Offensive MVP: QB Jake Plummer

With RB Clinton Portis in Washington, the onus for productivity and balance will fall on Plummer, who had a solid first season in Denver. The Broncos were 9-2 when he started in 2003 and 1-4 when he didn't.

Defensive MVP: MLB Al Wilson

A case could be made for new CB Champ Bailey, but we're going to stick with Wilson, a vicious hitter and the heart and soul of a defense that finished fourth in the league last year.

Detroit Lions

Offensive MVP: QB Joey Harrington

The pressure is on Harrington to improve his accuracy and make more plays, helping turn the Lions into a contender.

Defensive MVP: CB Dre' Bly

A Pro Bowler in 2003, Bly has asserted himself as a leader of the Lions' defense and gives Detroit a good No. 1 cornerback.

Green Bay Packers

Offensive MVP: RB Ahman Green

Green has set 2,000 rushing yards as a goal. With the Packers' offensive line, he has a chance.

Defensive MVP: DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila

Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila has to produce better than 10 sacks, his total in 2003, but he's the most talented player on the Packers' "D."

Offensive MVP: QB David Carr

Entering his third season, Carr is expected to take a major leap forward in terms of productivity and leadership. He has his best supporting cast yet, led by emerging star WR Andre Johnson.

Defensive MVP: DE Gary Walker

When healthy, Walker is capable of a Pro Bowl-caliber season in the Texans' 3-4 scheme. Walker is the team's best pass rusher from the end spot, and having former Titans DT Robaire Smith playing opposite him at right end should give him a boost.

Indianapolis Colts

Offensive MVP: QB Peyton Manning

He shook the big-game monkey and landed co-MVP hardware in 2003. Manning is the star of a brilliant cast.

Defensive MVP: DE Dwight Freeney

Freeney battled double-teams and injury last season and still managed 11 sacks.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Offensive MVP: RB Fred Taylor

He's played injury-free for two seasons and helped Jacksonville go 5-1 when he carried 23 or more times in 2003.

Defensive MVP: DT Marcus Stroud

Stroud is perhaps the biggest reason the Jaguars' run defense is among the best in the league.

Kansas City Chiefs

Offensive MVP: RB Priest Holmes

Since signing with the Chiefs to be the centerpiece of their offense three years ago, Holmes has averaged 1,530 rushing yards, 658.7 receiving yards and 20.3 touchdowns per season. Need we say more?

Defensive MVP: FS Jerome Woods

Woods may not rack up the stat lines of some other safeties in the league, but he is the glue that holds the defense together. And with Gunther Cunningham's aggressive tactics back in K.C., expect bigger things from Woods.

Miami Dolphins

Offensive MVP: WR Chris Chambers

The top playmaker on a mediocre offense has two big problems -- little help from the Dolphins' other WR spots, and the fact that he depends on either Jay Fiedler or A.J. Feeley to get him the ball.

Defensive MVP: DE Jason Taylor

Taylor is as complete an end as there is in the league. A pass-rushing demon, he can also cover the field and stop the run.

Minnesota Vikings

Offensive MVP: WR Randy Moss

Randy Moss was unstoppable last season (111 catches, 1,632 yards and 17 touchdowns), when the Vikings didn't have all their offensive weapons.

Defensive MVP: SS Corey Chavous

The leader of a talented secondary, Chavous has the versatility to be a real weapon.

New England Patriots

Offensive MVP: QB Tom Brady

Brady is clutch, commanding and accurate, and his arm's feeling great after offseason shoulder surgery. The heart and soul of the defending champs.

Defensive MVP: DE-DT Richard Seymour

Arguably the best D-lineman in the league, Seymour dominates no matter where he lines up in the Patriots' changing defense.

New Orleans Saints

Offensive MVP: RB Deuce McAllister

McAllister is a do-everything back who leads a power running game and is a serious threat out of the backfield as a receiver. He draws the focus of opponents and opens the offense for his teammates.

Defensive MVP: DE Darren Howard

Howard's speed and quickness allow him to get to the quarterback, which will take pressure off the Saints' DBs. He's a leader who will push his teammates to feel a sense of urgency this year.

New York Giants

Offensive MVP: RB Tiki Barber

Ron Dayne looks like he'll play more, and there's no real consistent offensive threat on the team. But Barber has been committed to holding on to the ball better (so far he has), and he did combine for 1,677 yards last season.

Defensive MVP: DE Michael Strahan

Even in his 12th season (he turns 33 in November), Strahan is one of the most dominant linemen in the league, using his leverage moves in Tim Lewis' defense -- one that Strahan has said he is falling in love with in camp.

New York Jets

Offensive MVP: QB Chad Pennington

Jets fans are crossing their fingers that Pennington stays healthy because if he goes down, New York's season likely goes down with him.

Defensive MVP: DE Shaun Ellis

Ellis emerged last year and, entering the final year of his contract, he wants to prove he's an elite pass rusher deserving of big bucks.

Oakland Raiders

Offensive MVP: WR Jerry Porter

An abdominal injury that cost him the first five games and a lackluster passing game without Rich Gannon kept Porter's numbers down last year, but the immensely talented Porter should be in line for big things in Norv Turner's more vertical passing game.

Defensive MVP: CB Charles Woodson

Provided he ends his holdout sometime soon, Woodson's skills will be on display even more in 2004 with a more reliable pass rush and the continued improvement of CB Phillip Buchanon.

Philadelphia Eagles

Offensive MVP: QB Donovan McNabb

Throw out the first half of last season, and McNabb might have been the MVP of the league. WR Terrell Owens might be the best player on the field most games, but even with the Eagles' good QB depth, they can't win without a healthy McNabb.

Defensive MVP: DE Jevon Kearse

How many times has a 12-win team added two players the next season who became their MVPs on each side of the ball? Kearse's edge speed is exactly what the team lacked down the stretch when Jim Johnson's blitzes became predictable.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Offensive MVP: RB Duce Staley

The Steelers were the league's second-worst rushing team in 2003, and they were one of the AFC's biggest flops. Staley was signed away from Philadelphia to inject some life into a backfield that lacked it last season. If he is as advertised, the Steelers will be contenders in the AFC North.

Defensive MVP: LB Joey Porter

Porter's speed off the edge is essential to Pittsburgh's defense. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau undoubtedly has concocted some schemes to put him in a position to get to the quarterback.

Offensive MVP: WR Torry Holt

Coming off a career campaign, Holt could be even better this season. Rams No. 2 WR Isaac Bruce is feeling healthier and should pose a more dangerous complementary threat, and the anticipated crackdown on pass interference five yards beyond the line of scrimmage could open things up for both receivers.

Defensive MVP: SS Adam Archuleta

Entering his fourth season, Archuleta hits like a young John Lynch, provides excellent run support and is the defense's most dangerous blitzer aside from DE Leonard Little.

San Diego Chargers

Offensive MVP: RB LaDainian Tomlinson

What Tomlinson has been able to accomplish in his three years despite a lackluster passing game and offensive line in San Diego is nothing short of spectacular. It's scary to think how effective he could be with a stronger surrounding cast.

Defensive MVP: LB Donnie Edwards

The athletic Edwards had 65 more tackles than his closest Chargers teammate last season and should adapt well to his new role inside in Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme.

San Francisco 49ers

Offensive MVP: RB Kevan Barlow

With so much uncertainty at the other positions, Barlow is being counted on to carry the offensive load to the tune of 25 touches per game. Niners GM Terry Donahue believes Barlow can be one of the 10 best backs in the NFL.

Defensive MVP: OLB Julian Peterson

Peterson said recently he had no intention of sitting out the season due to a prolonged contract squabble, which is a good thing for the Niners, who badly need his versatility in a defensive scheme looking to feature more 3-4 sets.

Seattle Seahawks

Offensive MVP: QB Matt Hasselbeck

Posting impressive numbers in his first full season as a starter, Hasselbeck has become increasingly comfortable in a system that is aiming to be even more wide open than it was last season.

Defensive MVP: DE Grant Wistrom

Although he has yet to make his presence felt because of a foot injury, Wistrom is being paid handsomely to improve the Seahawks' pass rush and provide the same kind of locker-room leadership he gave to the Rams in his first six seasons.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Offensive MVP: QB Brad Johnson

With the Buccaneers using so many by-committee approaches when it comes to the skill positions, Johnson's role becomes that much more important. Johnson is the calming force for a Bucs offense that needs his direction.

Defensive MVP: LB Derrick Brooks

Brooks isn't as fast as he once was, but as one of the Bucs' old guard, he's a leader who speaks with both his words and actions. He will set the tone for the defense by making big plays when his team needs it most.

Tennessee Titans

Offensive MVP: QB Steve McNair

If the Titans match their win total of last season or finish first in the AFC South, McNair should win the league's MVP -- by himself -- this year. His heart carries this team the same way Tom Brady's carries the Patriots.

Defensive MVP: OLB Keith Bulluck

His job gets tougher without a dominant D-line in front of him, but Bulluck's versatility and speed should allow him not only to lead the team in tackles but also in game-changing plays. CB Samari Rolle is a close second.

Washington Redskins

Offensive MVP: RB Clinton Portis

There's no way that Portis won't be a major force in this offense, assuming the offensive line jells. The Skins will ask Portis to carry the ball about 10 percent more than he did in Denver, and Portis' production should remain stellar.

Defensive MVP: LB LaVar Arrington

It's tempting to say that Marcus Washington, based on early returns, will be the MVP, but Arrington's production should go up in Gregg Williams' defense. He'll rush the passer a lot more, and it should add up to a big season.

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Originally posted by herrmag

How will Jamal Anderson be the Raven's offensive MVP when he'll be locked up half way through the season? I hate criminals; I especially hate criminals that think that just b/cuz they are star athletes, they are exempt from laws.

What!? The dirty bird is going to be locked up? ;)

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Originally posted by herrmag

How will Jamal Anderson be the Raven's offensive MVP when he'll be locked up half way through the season? I hate criminals; I especially hate criminals that think that just b/cuz they are star athletes, they are exempt from laws.

Wrong Jamal, and he hasn't been convicted of anything yet. If anything this latest charge leveled against him is an admission that the fed had nothing and they are just trying to get the man for anything.

On another note I don't support laws that get you for maybe thinking about doing something illegal. It's like being arrested for asking someone about drunk driving.

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Honestly, just seeing Priest Holmes' numbers freak me out.

Anyone remember when the undrafted Holmes ran for 1000 yards with the Ravens in an emergency starter role? Then he was castoff and nobody wanted him?!

Now look at what he's done with his career. I don't think ANYONE could have forecasted what he's done in K.C.

Great story.

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