About the Author
Recent posts by Eli Kaberon
Week Five was not a great one for many of the players on the MVP Meter. Aaron Rodgers suffered a concussion, the same injury that forced Jay Cutler to the sideline the week before. Drew Brees threw a costly pick-six that ended the Saints' chances for victory. Arian Foster and Anquan Boldin had their worst games of the year. And even without playing, Tom Brady lost his most talented wide receiver and may have been told to get a haircut.
In fact, the reason there was so much movement on the Meter this week was not due to outstanding performances by elite players; it was because so many players and teams stumbled, causing a massive reorganizing of the list. With all the parity in the league, it is nearly impossible to determine which players will excel through the complete season. This week's rankings have a pair of familiar names at the top, but there are major changes below as we wait to see which candidates separate themselves from the pack in a crowded race.
(Last week's ranking in parentheses)
1. Colts QB Peyton Manning (No. 1) — How does Manning, after his worst game of the season, stay at the top of the list? By default mainly, as nobody has proven himself worthy of taking the No. 1 spot. Expect a great show on Sunday night as Manning, who always seems to thrive in prime-time games, faces a Redskins 'D' that ranks 30th in the league vs. the pass.
2. Patriots QB Tom Brady (No. 2) — Clearly, Brady's numbers will drop following the trade of Randy Moss, but it may help his MVP candidacy. If the Patriots can continue their winning ways, and Brady keeps the offense on track without the star wide receiver, it will prove how valuable the quarterback really is.
3. Redskins QB Donovan McNabb (NR) — With wins already over the Cowboys and Eagles, and an impressive OT victory in Week Five over the Packers, the Redskins seem to be a legit NFC contender. That's mainly due to their new QB, who is throwing for 263 yards a game and has another chance for a marquee victory this Sunday vs. the Colts.
4. Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall (No. 6) — He's not the fastest or strongest running back in the league, nor is he the best runner, receiver or blocker. But Mendenhall gets the job done week after week, and his numbers look to improve with the return of Ben Roethlisberger. Teams won't be able to stack the box to slow down the Steelers' run game with an elite QB under center, though to be fair to Mendenhall, that tactic didn't really work for opponents the first four weeks.
5. Jets QB Mark Sanchez (No. 8) — Monday night wasn't Sanchez's best game of the year, but he moved the ball when needed and led the Jets to another win. After Week Five, Sanchez is the only full-time QB to have not thrown an interception this season.
6. Broncos QB Kyle Orton (No. 5) — Numbers wise, Orton should be behind Philip Rivers on the Meter, as the Chargers QB has thrown for more yards and TDs on a team with the identical record as Denver's. But given the expectations, pedigrees and surrounding talent of the two players, Orton's 2010 performance is much more valuable to his team.
7. Bears DE Julius Peppers (NR) — Every week it seems the Bears star is making a new kind of impact. After injuring Lions QB Matt Stafford in Week One and causing a handful of holding and false-start penalties in Week Three vs. the Packers, Peppers added a pass interception to his arsenal in Week Five vs. the Panthers. During the first quarter of the game against his former team, Peppers leapt and swatted a pass at the line of scrimmage, then dove to catch the ball before it hit the turf. He also took on two blockers the entire game, allowing fellow DE Israel Idonije to record three sacks and a forced fumble.
8. Saints QB Drew Brees (No. 3) — How rare is it for Brees to throw three interceptions in a game? Before doing it in Week Five vs. the Cardinals, it had been 16 games (including the playoffs) since that had happened. The turnover-prone performance dropped the Saints to 3-2, but there is still plenty of time for the star QB and his offense to get back on track.
9. Titans RB Chris Johnson (NR) — On a Week Six slate featuring two playoff rematches (Ravens-Patriots and Cowboys-Vikings) and a meeting of two of the top three players on the Meter (Colts-Redskins), who would have guessed that Titans-Jaguars would be the most important game of the weekend? The Monday-night affair will determine a clear leader in the AFC South and could jet Johnson up the list in a rare prime-time performance.
10. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (No. 4) — Talk about adding insult to injury. Not only did the Packers lose in OT to the Redskins during Week Five, but Rodgers was decked on the team's final offensive play of the game, resulting in a concussion that may have him missing this Sunday's contest against the Dolphins. TE Jermichael Finley, Rodgers' favorite target, also was hurt and will miss 3-6 weeks after knee surgery.
Five on the cusp (in alphabetical order) — Texans RB Arian Foster, Packers OLB Clay Matthews, Ravens RB Ray Rice, Chargers QB Philip Rivers, Falcons QB Matt Ryan