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MVP Meter: Falcons' White pushes off, steps up

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Recent posts by Eli Kaberon

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Posted Nov. 16, 2010 @ 6:41 p.m. ET
By Eli Kaberon

Several great plays from Week 10 stand out, including Jaguars WR Mike Thomas' Hail Mary grab to win an important AFC South matchup against the Texans, Jets WR Santonio Holmes' improbable TD with just seconds remaining in overtime and just about everything Michael Vick did on Monday night. But perhaps no big play will resonate as long as the first game-winner Week 10.

WR Roddy White's 33-yard touchdown grab with 20 seconds left gave the Falcons a 26-21 victory over the Ravens on Thursday night. Atlanta improved to 7-2 and moved atop the NFC before a tough stretch that has the Falcons playing four of their next five games on the road.

Despite missing much of the team's Week Nine game due to a knee injury, which also slowed him in practice before the game against Baltimore, White finished with 12 catches for 138 yards and two TDs, launching him up the MVP Meter. He now ranks sixth, which is the highest point any wide receiver has reached on the list this season.

(Last week's ranking in parentheses)

1. Colts QB Peyton Manning (No. 1) — Is this Peyton's last week at the top? After throwing for a season-low 185 yards and no touchdowns in Week 10, Manning's grip on the No. 1 spot is getting loose. He has the perfect opportunity to strengthen it on Sunday, however, when the Colts will face off against the Patriots.

2. Patriots QB Tom Brady (No. 6) — Any questions about Brady's ability after a Week Nine loss to the Browns were answered emphatically with a dominating performance Sunday night vs. the Steelers. The quarterback threw for 350 yards and three TDs while firing up his teammates with an emotional spike after a rushing touchdown. New England has struggled in recent years vs. the Colts, dropping five of the past six meetings, but it heads into the game with plenty of momentum after the big win in Pittsburgh.

3. Saints QB Drew Brees (No. 2) — If Brees is going to end the season with the MVP, he'll have to pick up his play on the road. Following this Sunday's game vs. the Seahawks in the Superdome, the Saints will play four of their final six games away from home, including a tough stretch in Weeks 15 and 16 at Baltimore and Atlanta. So far this season, Brees is averaging 307 passing yards a game at the Dome, compared to only 262 yards in road games.  

4. Titans RB Chris Johnson (No. 3) Johnson had one of his best games of the season in Week 10, rushing for 117 yards on 17 carries (6.9 per attempt), but the quarterback situation in Tennessee is a major concern. Both Vince Young and Kerry Collins are banged up, and the attention defenses may have otherwise paid to Randy Moss could go to Johnson if the Titans' passing game cannot prove to be a viable threat.

5. Chargers QB Philip Rivers (No. 5) — A bye week is a great time for resting the body and no player needed it more than Rivers. The quarterback has thrown downfield as much as anybody in the league, averaging 8.9 yards per attempt. He also has the Chargers back in the AFC West race with seven games to go.

6. Falcons WR Roddy White (No. 10) — White's big game was not without controversy. The receiver may have pushed off Ravens CB Josh Wilson just a bit on the game-winning touchdown, but according to White, it's all part of the game. "Yeah, you've got to do whatever you've got to do to win," he said after the game. "(Wilson) was kind of flat-footed, and he tried to grab me, so I just pushed him down."

7. Eagles QB Michael Vick (NR) — Vick was on the cusp a week ago, but if there ever was a performance worthy of elevating a player into the top 10, Vick had it on Monday night. Three hundred thirty-three passing yards, 80 more yards on the ground and six total touchdowns in a romp over the rival Redskins. Vick turned in what was maybe the best single-game performance of the year by a quarterback.

8. Raiders RB Darren McFadden (No. 7) — With his Raiders in first place in the AFC West, McFadden faces a tough Week 11 test against the Steelers. Oakland vs. Pittsburgh is no longer the rivalry it was in the '70s, but Sunday's game is likely to include the big hits and tough running that Chuck Noll and John Madden's teams made famous back in the day. That could be trouble for McFadden, who has been fragile in the past. He may not welcome the sight of OLB James Harrison coming at him full speed.

9. Packers LB Clay Matthews (No. 8) — Matthews has destroyed many opponents during his 1½ seasons in the NFL, but he's never taken down Brett Favre and has zero sacks in three career games vs. the Vikings. He'll have maybe his final chance on Sunday when the Packers invade the Metrodome.

10. Giants QB Eli Manning (No. 4) — Throwing for 373 yards, as Manning did on Sunday, never looked so unimpressive. Much of that yardage came at the end of the game after the Giants had already fallen way behind the reeling Cowboys. Week 11 gives Manning, who threw two picks vs. Dallas, a chance to redeem himself in a huge primetime game against the Eagles with the NFC East lead on the line.

Five on the cusp (In alphabetical order) — Ravens QB Joe Flacco, Browns RB Peyton Hillis, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, Falcons QB Matt Ryan, Jets QB Mark Sanchez

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