PFW associate editor Kevin Fishbain presents a running meter that indicates the Patriots' top five MVP candidates up through their most recent game.
1. QB Tom Brady: After completing 6-of-16 passing for 35 yards and one touchdown in the first half, Brady finally found his rhythm after halftime, at one point completing 10 consecutive passes. He was 13-of-16 passing for 124 yards in the second half. It was not Brady's best game and he was visibly frustrated at times, also pressured more than he has been this season, but he is still the most consistent MVP candidate for the Pats.
2. TE Aaron Hernandez: The rookie is a monster in between the 20s for Brady, but has yet to find the endzone. Hernandez led the Pats in receiving again on Sunday, with five catches for 54 yards on eight targets. On the season, Hernandez leads the Pats with 355 receiving yards and is second amongst all rookies. Fellow rookie TE Rob Gronkowski has become Brady's red-zone target, though, with three TD grabs.
3. ILB Jerod Mayo: Mayo paced the Patriots again with 11 tackles and a fumble recovery. He leads the team and the league with 72 tackles on the season. Mayo's linebacking corps is coming together as they held the Chargers to just 38 rushing yards on 19 carries — a paltry two yards per carry.
4. WR Wes Welker: Welker still leads the team with 37 receptions after catching 4-25 against the Chargers. We can give the Chargers' top-ranked pass defense some credit, but Welker has been slowed since Randy Moss left New England. He is also not at 100 percent after offseason knee surgery. Through the first six games in 2008, Welker had 47 receptions, and through his first six games in 2009 (he missed Weeks Two and Three), he had 55 receptions.
5. RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis: The "Law Firm" had a tough day against the Chargers' "D" on Sunday with just 24 yards on 11 carries, but he did find the endzone for his team-leading fourth TD of the season. He has 259 yards rushing this season but is gradually losing carries to RB-WR Danny Woodhead, who is a better pass catcher than Green-Ellis and is seeing more and more offensive snaps.