Here's a look at the Browns' top five team MVP candidates through eight games.
1. RB Peyton Hillis — Hillis was the catalyst for the Browns' 34-14 upset of the Patriots. He rushed for a career-high 184 yards on 29 carries, including TD runs of 35 and two yards. Hillis has rushed for 644 yards and seven touchdowns on 133 carries this season and has added 30 catches for 229 yards and a score. All told, he has scored eight of the Browns' 15 offensive touchdowns this season. One other interesting tidbit: the 240-pound Hillis is racking up an impressive 4.8 yards per carry.
2. OLB Scott Fujita — Fujita recorded six tackles in New England's victory Sunday. Overall, he has 50 tackles, 3½ sacks and two forced fumbles on the season. Given that he played a major role in the upset of New Orleans and also had a key sack and forced fumble in the win vs. Cincinnati, he's the club's defensive MVP at the midway point of the season.
3. WR-RS Joshua Cribbs — Cribbs simply makes this team more dangerous to defend whether he's returning kickoffs or punts or lined up at wide receiver or under center on offense. His marvelously deceptive handoff to WR Chansi Stuckey set up Stuckey's memorable 11-yard TD run on Sunday. That Cribbs is so dangerous with the ball in hands helped matters, too.
4. S T.J. Ward — Through eight games, Ward, a hard-hitting rookie from Oregon, is on pace for 134 tackles on defense. According to NFL statistics, that would be the fourth-most by any Browns defender since 2001. Ward, who notched six tackles in Week Nine, has started every game this season.
5. NT Ahtyba Rubin — Rubin, who has supplanted Shaun Rogers as the Browns' starting nose tackle, recorded his first career sack on Sunday and has 37 tackles in eight games this season. Cleveland has allowed just 126 rushing yards in its last two games and is surrendering just 3.89 yards per carry, and Rubin is a major part of its run-defense efforts.