PFW executive editor and resident Packers expert Dan Arkush presents a running meter that indicates the Packers’ top five MVP candidates up through their most recent game.
1. OLB Clay Matthews: Matthews had to work very hard for his money against the Jets in Week Eight, as he was held in check practically the entire game by Jets OT Damien Woody. But still going nonstop on every play, Matthews registered five tackles and finally got the best of Woody when it counted most, breaking through for a sack on third down of the Jets’ final series of the game. His 9½ sacks leads the league — 1½ sacks more than his two closest pursuers — Giants DE Osi Umenyiora and Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware, who each have eight.
2. CB Tramon Williams: Williams is closing in on Matthews for the MVP meter’s top spot, which attests to how well he has been playing. Continuing to look more and more like a Pro Bowler, Williams had an outstanding effort against the Jets, coming up with a key interception that he wrestled away from Jets WR Jerricho Cotchery, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, two pass breakups and five tackles. No wonder the Packers reportedly are offering him a deserved contract extension.
3. QB Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers moves up the meter one notch this week despite his very ordinary numbers against the Jets. Rodgers completed only 15-of 34 passes (44.1 percent) — his lowest completion percentage as a starter. But a key to the win over the Jets was the offense avoiding turnovers, as A-Rod engineered the Packers’ first turnover-free game this season against a team that entered the game leading the league in turnover differential. Rodgers also won his second close game in a row after a very long losing stretch in squeakers, which bodes well for the second half of the season. He sprained an ankle in the fourth quarter as he was rolling out but was able to return after getting the ankle retaped and should not miss any practice time.
4. NT B.J. Raji: Raji had only two tackles against the Jets but continues to be a strong anchor on a depleted D-line that is currently missing Ryan Pickett and has lost Mike Neal and Justin Harrell for the season. The addition of ex-Jet Howard Green, who immediately made his presence felt, should help keep Raji fresh moving forward.
5. WR Greg Jennings: Despite having to contend with a tough pair of starting corners in Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, Jennings managed six catches for 81 yards against the Jets, including a long of 30, and has gotten more productive since TE Jermichael Fnley went down with a season-ending knee injury. Jennings has six catches in each of the last three games and has averaged 96 yards receiving in that span.