In most seasons, Kevin Kolb would be an obvious choice to be among the league's top MVP candidates. After being Donovan McNabb's backup for the past three seasons, Kolb was handed the starting job over the summer when McNabb was traded to the Redskins. He suffered a concussion in the Eagles' Week One loss, but has rebounded since with back-to-back outstanding games, and is currently seventh in the league in passer rating.
Problem is nobody knows if Kolb will continue to be the Eagles' starting quarterback. As PFW senior editor Eric Edholm wrote earlier in the week, Andy Reid has a tough choice when fellow quarterback Michael Vick returns from injury, because he too was playing outstanding ball when healthy. Vick ranks first in the league in QB rating and has been the game-breaking player with both his arm and legs that he was earlier in his career with the Falcons.
If it was known which Eagles quarterback would start the rest of the year, that player would place highly on the Meter. But as we project who will end the year as the league's most valuable, it's difficult to differentiate which player helps the Eagles win games most. Through six weeks of the season, neither of them appears on the Meter, but once Reid makes up his mind, don't be shocked if the team's long-term starter ends the year in the top 10.
(Last week's ranking in parentheses)
1. Colts QB Peyton Manning (No. 1) — Following his 307-yard performance in Week Six vs. the Redskins, Manning now has 60 300-plus yard games in his career, according to ESPN Stats & Info. That's third on the all-time list, trailing only Dan Marino (63) and Brett Favre (61). Expect Manning to have the record to his own by the end of the season.
2. Patriots QB Tom Brady (No. 2) — Brady may be No. 2 at the moment, but he's gaining fast. Reunited with WR Deion Branch following a trade with the Seahawks last week, the two players connected on nine passes for 98 yards and a key fourth-quarter touchdown. Expect Brady to put up big numbers again in Week Seven, as he returns to his home state to face the struggling Chargers.
3. Saints QB Drew Brees (No. 8) — The Saints' offense had its best game of the season in Week Six, piling up 475 yards in a blowout victory over the Buccaneers. It was all started by Brees, who threw for three TDs and said after the game that his team is, "A confident group. We've got some swagger." Considering New Orleans already is tied for the best record in the NFC and is just now starting to get rolling, the rest of the league may want to watch out.
4. Jets RB LaDainian Tomlinson (NR) — Last week it was Mark Sanchez in the top five. Now the Jets' quarterback is out of the top 10 and their running back is on. Why? Because L.T. is more important to the team's success. Not to take anything away from Sanchez, who has been brilliant, but New York isn't 5-1 without the five-time Pro Bowl running back. Tomlinson ran for a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to help the Jets come-from-behind to beat the Broncos in Week Six.
5. Titans RB Chris Johnson (No. 6) — Bottled up for much of Monday night, Johnson finally broke out with a big run with a 1:48 remaining vs. the Jaguars, scampering for a 35-yard TD. Johnson finished the game with 111 rushing yards and will be depended on even more if QB Vince Young's injury keep him sidelined. Johnson faces the Eagles next week, who rank 22nd in rush defense.
6. Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (NR) — If the Vikings offense ever gets on track this season, it will be due to the tough running of Peterson. Leading the league with more than 110 rushing yards a game, the All-Pro seems to have put his fumbling problems behind, as he has not put the ball on the turf yet this season. With all the offensive weapons wearing purple, it will be up to No. 28 to carry the Vikings back into contention in the NFC.
7. Steelers SS Troy Polamalu (NR) — He doesn't lead the league in tackles, sacks or interceptions, but no defensive player is more vital to their team's success than Polamalu. Constantly around the ball, the star safety seems to always come up big when it matters most. He has 27 tackles and two interceptions through five games.
8. Giants QB Eli Manning (NR) — The leader of New York's 12th-ranked passing attack, Manning has been spreading the ball around to a variety of talented receivers. This week he takes on the Cowboys, who rank fourth vs. the pass.
9. Texans WR Andre Johnson (NR) — For the second time this year, Johnson came down with the big catch when his team needed it most. Opponents double-cover the star wideout on nearly every snap, but it doesn't seem to make a difference, as Johnson is averaging 97.6 receiving yards per game. The Texans are difficult to figure out on a week-to-week basis, but when they are playing well, it's often because Johnson is destroying opponents.
10. Redskins QB Donovan McNabb (No. 3) — Lost in the Kolb-Vick talk is how well the former Eagles quarterback is playing in Washington. Despite struggling for much of Week Six, McNabb nearly led the Redskins back in the fourth quarter, completing 10-of-11 passes for 88 yards on a 92-yard drive, including a eight-yard TD pass, that cut the Colts' lead to three with a little more than two minutes left. Just like Brady, McNabb comes home in Week Seven, traveling to Chicago to face the Bears.
Five on the cusp (In alphabetical order) — Texans RB Arian Foster, Broncos QB Kyle Orton, Bears DE Julius Peppers, Ravens RB Ray Rice, Jets QB Mark Sanchez