You read that correctly. DeAngelo Williams is (and should be considered to be) the NFL MVP.
Williams, who leads all non-kickers in the NFL in scoring (14 rushing touchdowns, 2 receiving touchdowns and a two-point conversion), wasn't named to the NFC's Pro Bowl squad despite being one of the main cogs on one of the best teams in the NFL.
In fact, Williams has five touchdown runs of 30 yards or longer, which matches the highest total in any single season in the last 40 years. Three other players, Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis and Adrian Peterson hold the same record as Williams.
Yet, few fans and national pundits acknowledge just how good of a season and how instrumental Williams has been to the Panthers' success.
Williams doesn't care.
"I don't care about the Pro Bowl at all," Williams said Monday. "It's one of those things where it's name recognition, TV time, things of that nature. I don't really care about all that stuff. As long as our team is being productive, and we continue to win, it doesn't matter to me."
Last week, the Denver Broncos stacked the box defensively with four defensive linemen and four linebackers in an attempt to stop Williams and his running mate Jonathan Stewart. Usually teams gameplan to stop four-time Pro Bowl receiver Steve Smith. The Broncos set out to stop the run. Despite the roadblock, Williams still rushed for 88 yards on 12 carries, averaging 7.3 yards per carry against a defense that was stacked against him.
"It was a great run because they had it stopped to the left," quarterback Jake Delhomme said of Williams' 56-yard touchdown run against the Broncos on Sunday. "He started to cut back, and I took off running, thinking maybe I got in his way. Then he took a left turn and I hollered. It was a good move, keep going. It was a great job by him. The way he's finishing I think is huge. He's been doing it since August. It's a process. He's learning how to practice. When he runs in practice, he finishes. He goes to the end zone, and I think he's very strong on those runs when he breaks through. It's a credit to him."
This is the first opportunity Williams has had to shine in the NFL; His previous two seasons were spent playing in DeShaun Fosters' shadow. He's started every game for the Panthers this season and already has the second-best rushing season for any Panther running back since 1995. Only Stephen Davis, who amassed 1,444 yards rushing in 2003, has more yards rushing in a season than Williams' 1,229. Williams has a chance to break Davis' rushing record with two games remaining if he can average at least 108 yards per game in the next two contests against the New York Giants and the New Orleans Saints.
Williams already holds the Panthers' single season rushing touchdown record; Davis had 12 in 2005, Williams currently has 14.
And despite sharing carries with rookie sensation Jonathan Stewart (who ranks 20th in the NFL with 751 yards and has 9 rushing touchdowns himself), Williams is fourth in the NFL in rushing (ahead of AFC Pro Bowl starter Thomas Jones of the NY Jets despite having 40 less carries) and leads the NFL in yards per carry (5.5 ypc) for all backs that have at least 150 attempts.
So how does Williams stack up against another elite running back in the NFL?
Williams has 352 less yards than NFL leader Adrian Peterson, but has 96 fewer carries. Despite the carry discrepancy, Williams (14) has five more rushing touchdowns than Peterson (9). Williams has more runs over 40 yards (5) than Peterson (3), and 6-less fumbles than Peterson (Williams has 0 in 2008).
Sure, Peterson is a work horse -- there is no debating that at all -- but Williams has done more for his team than Peterson has for his -- with fewer opportunities.
Williams accounts for 40% of the Panthers' touchdowns, while Peterson has scored 27% of the Vikings'.
Williams has picked up tough yards to seal games for the Panthers when their passing game wasn't clicking. Williams has scored when the passing offense couldn't score. Teams knew the Panthers were going to run, yet they couldn't corral the tough-running back out of Memphis.
The Panthers have ridden Williams' back to an 11-3 record. Doesn't that account for something?
The NFL and its fans should take note of the next two weeks and Williams' performance during them.
They might just see the NFL's most valuable player emerge from obscurity.