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USA TODAY Sports' Lorenzo Reyes looks at the three biggest story lines heading into week 14 of the NFL season. USA TODAY Sports

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From Week 1 through Week 17, USA TODAY Sports' NFL staff will be handicapping the race for league MVP.

A first-place vote is worth five points, a second-place vote is worth three, and a third-place vote is worth one.

Our MVP tracker through Week 13's games:

1. QB Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders (31 points): After edging Zeke Elliott by one point last week to become our frontrunner, Carr opened up a significant lead heading into the first-place Raiders' AFC West showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night. Carr is on pace for his best statistical showing in the third season of his pro career, and his 24-to-5 TD-to-INT ratio would be the envy of most young passers. And there's this juicy nugget, courtesy of ESPN: Carr has 13 touchdown passes and zero picks when trailing in the second half or overtime in 2016. On the intangibles side, his leadership, humility and toughness all bolster his case. Last week: 1

2. RB Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys (14 points): Is the league rushing leader (1,285 yards) hitting the rookie wall? Elliott only has one 100-yard day in the last six games. But he maintains that wall doesn't exist, and the NFL's busiest back (263 carries) also has those same numbers in his favor, averaging 21 attempts and a more-than-solid 97 yards per game in that same stretch, when defenses have often loaded up to stop him. Elliott is on track to produce the fourth 1,700-yard season in franchise history, joining Emmitt Smith, who did it twice, and DeMarco Murray. Last week: 2

3. QB Tom Brady, New England Patriots (9 points): His statistical momentum was slowing even before he lost Rob Gronkowski. Brady's passer rating has dipped below 100.0 in three of the past four games — no shame in that, just below his standards — and he's only got three total TD passes in those three outings. But it's a team game, and the Pats are cruising toward their 14th AFC East title since Brady became the starter in 2001, a remarkable and underappreciated feat. The two-time MVP could also lead the NFL QB rating (113.1) for the third time in his career. Last week: 3

4. QB Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys (7 points): His sterling rookie season is highly reminiscent of Ben Roethlisberger's in 2004. Prescott's 2,974 passing yards and 19 TD passes have already surpassed Big Ben, who also had the benefit of a strong running game but was backed by a far better defense than Prescott is. Roethlisberger went 13-0 in his first regular season, then guided Pittsburgh to the AFC Championship Game. Prescott, who's 11-1, has a good shot to go even further. Last week: 4

5. QB Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (2 points): After 11 white-knuckle games (seven of them Detroit victories in which Stafford engineered a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter), he finally oversaw his first wire-to-wire win of 2016 during Sunday's upset of the Saints in the Superdome. With Calvin Johnson dancing his nights away, Stafford is having his most efficient season (100.5 QB rating) and has even flashed more athleticism, running for a career-best 178 yards and 11 first downs. Last week: Unranked

Dropped out: Matt Ryan

Week 12 MVP rankings (Derek Carr)
— Week 11 MVP rankings (Ezekiel Elliott)
— Week 10 MVP rankings (Ezekiel Elliott)
— Week 9 MVP rankings (Matt Ryan)
— Week 8 MVP rankings (Matt Ryan)
— Week 7 MVP rankings (Matt Ryan)
— Week 6 MVP rankings (Matt Ryan)
— Week 5 MVP rankings (Matt Ryan)
— Week 4 MVP rankings (Matt Ryan)
— Week 3 MVP rankings (Matt Ryan)
— Week 2 MVP rankings (Ben Roethlisberger)
— Week 1 MVP rankings (Antonio Brown)

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Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis

PHOTOS: Week 14 NFL games ranked by watchability

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