PFW associate editor Kevin Fishbain presents a running meter that ranks the Patriots' top five MVP candidates up through their most recent game.
1. QB Tom Brady: It wasn't Brady's finest outing, especially considering how he had played the previous five games. It was the first game since a Week Nine loss to Cleveland that the Pats' offense struggled. Brady completed 15-of-24 passes for 163 yards and two scores. He has now thrown 292 consecutive passes without an interception. When New England needed him most though, Brady engineered a standard Patriots drive downfield, culminating in a 10-yard TD pass to Aaron Hernandez for the game-winning score.
2. WR Wes Welker: Like the rest of the offense, Welker struggled on Sunday night, catching just three passes for 42 yards, but one was a big 35-yard grab. He leads the team with 83 catches for 829 yards, and if he finishes strong, hitting 100-1,000 is not out of the question.
3. CB Devin McCourty: When has a rookie corner's rib been such a hot topic? When that rookie is anchoring a secondary. McCourty left the Pats' Week 14 game with a rib injury and was questionable for Sunday night. But he started and recorded 10 tackles including his first career sack. He added another tackle-for-loss and a pass defensed. The athletic rookie was beat on a double move by James Jones on a long touchdown play, but he made big plays again for the Pats' opportunistic "D."
4. RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis: Who thought the Law Firm would be close to 1,000 yards rushing and the Patriots' record for rushing TDs in a season? He added a 33-yard score to his breakout season on Sunday night, but didn't get going aside from that run. He has 824 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. Curtis Martin has the club record of 14 touchdowns in a season (twice).
5. WR Deion Branch: Branch also had a quiet game, catching just two balls for 33 yards. He has caught 46-681-5 in 10 games with New England. Added with the 13-112-1 he had in four games with Seattle, and his 59-793-6 receiving total is his most productive season since 2006. A Bills defense that ranks 23rd in the league should allow Branch and Welker to get back on track in Week 16.