Tom Brady aside, who merits OPOY love?

The Associated Press will announce its 2010 offensive player of the year on Tuesday.

Some might assume it's a foregone conclusion New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will win the award because he's virtually guaranteed to be named MVP on Sunday and, well, he plays offense.

Frequently, though, the MVP and the offensive player of the year do not match. The reason is that MVP is a more transcendent honor that goes beyond stats and includes team success, while the offensive player of the year award generally is based on prolific production.

Since the AP began naming a top offensive and defensive player in 1972, the OPOY and MVP have differed 16 times. They've differed 13 times since 1986 and six times since 1999.

For instance, quarterback Peyton Manning was voted MVP the past two seasons for guiding the Indianapolis Colts to dominant regular seasons. But Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson (record 2,509 yards from scrimmage) was OPOY for last season. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (15 yards short of Dan Marino's passing yardage record) was OPOY for 2008.

The last player to match? Brady in 2007.

There's a good chance he'll win both again for 2010 because he posted amazing personal stats while quarterbacking the Patriots to a league-high 14 victories. Brady led the NFL with 36 touchdown passes and a 111.0 passer rating (fifth all-time) while throwing a league-low four interceptions. He broke the record for most attempts without an interception.

The AP panel made Brady a unanimous selection at quarterback, but he'll probably lose some votes for OPOY. Top candidates to snag some include Houston Texans running back Arian Foster (led NFL in rushing yards and TDs), Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (6.4 yards per carry) and Atlanta Falcons receiver Roddy White (led NFL in receptions and second in yards).

Since nobody else in the AFC East deserves a look for OPOY, let's narrow the focus to the division only and set Brady aside for the sake of discussion.

Who had the second-best offensive year in the AFC East?

That's a tough call.

Patriots back BenJarvus Green-Ellis was the only 1,000-yard rusher, albeit barely, and scored 13 touchdowns.

Miami Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall tied Patriots receiver Wes Welker for the division lead with 86 receptions and gained 1,014 yards but scored only three touchdowns. Welker had 848 yards and seven touchdowns.

Buffalo Bills receiver Steve Johnson had a fabulous season with 82 receptions, 1,073 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The New York Jets spread the ball around so much, nobody recorded staggering numbers, but receivers Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards each had great campaigns.

Who do you think had the best season among those not named Brady?