My picks for midseason most valuable player for each team in the division:
The season started poorly for him and there were whispers about whether or not he had lost a step. Gore has put to rest those concerns emphatically. His five consecutive games with at least 100 yards rushing are a franchise record and the NFL's longest streak since Maurice Jones-Drew had six last season. The 49ers have cut back Gore's role as a receiver. They have also worked rookie Kendall Hunter into the rotation. Still, Gore is averaging a career-high 19.9 rushing attempts per game. Ankle injuries have threatened Gore more than opposing defenses have threatened him.
This was a tough call because free safety Earl Thomas carries quite a bit of value, too. Clemons stands as the best pass-rusher on a team that needs more of them. His toughness in playing well through injuries has commanded respect from teammates. Clemons remains on pace for his second consecutive season with double-digit sacks. Michael Sinclair was the last Seahawks player with at least 10 sacks in consecutive seasons. He accomplished the feat back in 1997-98. Jacob Green did it twice in the 1980s.
Peterson is the first player in NFL history with three punt returns for touchdowns in the first eight games of his career. His fourth-quarter return touchdown against Carolina and overtime return touchdown against St. Louis were directly responsible for the Cardinals' only victories of the season. On defense, Peterson is still getting acclimated to Arizona's scheme and those pesky NFL rules. Penalties have dogged him. He does have two interceptions, however, and continues to develop.
The Rams have been competitive in their past two games. Jackson's return to health has been the leading reason why. With 289 yards spread across games against New Orleans and Arizona, Jackson has put himself back on pace for a seventh consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season. The Rams will be Sam Bradford's team at some point in the future, but Jackson's profile in the locker room is unrivaled at Rams Park. He's the emotional leader of the team and the one player everyone on the roster can rally around.