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MVP Meter: Hasselbeck rising

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Recent posts by Eli Kaberon

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Posted Oct. 04, 2011 @ 3:27 p.m. ET
By Eli Kaberon

The Titans' signing of veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck this summer wasn't really under the radar, but it didn't create major headlines across the country either. Instead, news of the former Seahawk going to Tennessee was met with a giant yawn by many football fans. The 36-year-old QB was brought in to be a bridge from the Vince Young disaster to the Jake Locker era.

Few expected that RB Chris Johnson would be struggling and the Titans would still be 3-1 after four weeks. That's because of Hasselbeck, who has emerged as a serious MVP candidate early in the season. Even without a dynamic running game — or WR Kenny Britt, who tore his ACL in Week Three — the Titans are moving the ball well, thanks mainly to their veteran signalcaller.

In Week Four, Hasselbeck tossed three touchdowns in a 31-13 road win over the Browns, keeping the Titans in a tie with the Texans for first in the AFC South. Now the team travels to Pittsburgh to face the defending AFC champs and its physical defense. The Titans will head into their Week Six bye with a great chance to make a serious playoff run thanks to their QB.

(Last week's ranking in parentheses)

1. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (No. 1) — It must be noted that he was playing the lowly Broncos, but Rodgers was nothing short of amazing in Week Four, accounting for six total touchdowns in a 49-23 win. He threw a touchdown to four different receivers, and also ran for two scores during the blowout. This week Rodgers returns to the Georgia Dome to take on the Falcons, who last saw the Packers' QB account for four TDs in a dominating playoff win in January.

2. Patriots QB Tom Brady (No. 3) — Brady's two touchdown passes in Week Four vs. the Raiders gave him 274 for his career, moving him up to ninth on the all-time list. The man he passed? His hero growing up, legend Joe Montana. The Patriots QB would really like to tie Montana in another category, Super Bowl rings, at the end of the season.

3. Lions WR Calvin Johnson (No. 6) — With a pair of touchdown grabs on Sunday, Johnson became the first player to catch two or more scores in each of his first four games in a season. His eight touchdowns on the year are as much or more than 10 NFL teams have scored.

4. Saints QB Drew Brees (No. 2) — Some players are distracted when their contract is set to expire and their future is unknown, but Brees appears to be focused on football. Though talk of his deal has been in the headlines, the Saints QB is playing at a high level. His 120 completions in the first four weeks of a season is tied for second most since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. Brees drops two spots on the Meter, but only because Brady and Johnson had more outstanding games in Week Four.

5. Lions QB Matthew Stafford (No. 5) — Despite throwing for a season-low 240 yards in Week Four, Stafford and the Lions were still able to get by the Cowboys and improve to 4-0, rallying from a 24-point deficit in the process. This week, Stafford will get a chance to play in the national spotlight, appearing on "Monday Night Football" against the Bears.

6. Ravens RB Ray Rice (No. 6) — In a game marred by ugly performances by both quarterbacks, Rice was one of the lone offensive bright spots in the Ravens' Week Four victory over the Jets. The running back ran for a touchdown and gained 130 yards from scrimmage, helping Baltimore overcome QB Joe Flacco's two turnovers.

7. Raiders RB Darren McFadden (No. 4) — McFadden leads all running backs in rushing average (6.2 yards per carry) and he trails only Wes Welker and Matt Forté for the league lead in yards from scrimmage. He'll be looking to carry the Raiders above the .500 mark Sunday against the Texans.

8. Titans QB Matt Hasselbeck (NR) — The move to Nashville has been great for Hasselbeck, who is improving his stats across the board. He is completing more than 66 percent of his throws, and it would be the best mark of his career if he stays on that pace.

9. Bills RB Fred Jackson (No. 10) — Few people would have mentioned Jackson as one of the game's elite running backs at the start of the year, but few have been better this season. The Bills' back is sixth in the league in yards from scrimmage (516). Jackson is hoping that his impressive season will lead to a new contract from the team.

10. Patriots WR Wes Welker (NR) — From the random stat department: Welker has more first-down receptions (29) than the second-leading receiver, Panthers WR Steve Smith, in the league has total receptions (24). He is also on pace to catch 160 passes this season, which would shatter Marvin Harrison's single-season record of 143.

Five on the cusp (in alphabetical order) — Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bears RB Matt Forté, Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman, Giants QB Eli Manning, Texans OLB Mario Williams

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