MVP Meter: Eli Manning on the rise

Posted Nov. 08, 2011 @ 7:54 p.m.
Posted By Eli Kaberon

A few weeks ago, we noted that even without playing a game, Peyton Manning has a valid argument for the MVP Turns out he's not the only one in his family who can say that. 

His younger brother, Eli Manning, is putting up impressive credentials of his own, and he's actually throwing passes this season, unlike the injured Peyton. Against the Patriots on Sunday, the Giants' QB tossed two touchdowns in the final 3:03 of the game, including the game-winner with less than 20 seconds left, helping his team improve its record to 6-2. The Giants became the first team to beat Tom Brady in a regular-season game at Gillette Stadium since Chad Pennington did it with the Jets on Nov. 12, 2006.

Manning makes his season debut on the Meter this week for more than just beating Brady. He's cut down on interceptions and his Giants, despite losing the season opener to the Redskins and also falling to the Seahawks in Week Five, hold a two-game lead in the NFC East. With a tough schedule in the second half of the season and the health of his top wideout (Hakeem Nicks) and running back (Ahmad Bradshaw) in question, the former Super Bowl MVP will have a strong opportunity to add a regular-season award to his mantle if he continues his impressive play.

(Last week's ranking in parentheses)

1. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (No. 1) — Having thrown just three interceptions this season and none since Week Six, Rodgers, the best QB in the league, must have a strategy for preventing turnovers. "I just don't throw it to the other team," Rodgers told the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "Don't like to, never have. I don't think I'm coming very close either."

2. 49ers RB Frank Gore (No. 6) — Not even a sprained ankle could slow down Gore last Sunday. He gained 107 yards rushing in the Niners' victory over the Redskins, extending his streak of 100-yard rushing games to five. Despite the injury, Gore said he will be good to go for the team's Week 10 showdown with the Giants.

3. Lions WR Calvin Johnson (No. 2) — Gore's impressive play helped him move ahead of Megatron in the rankings, but Johnson has a chance to move up again in the coming weeks. Detroit's next three opponents — the Bears, Panthers and Packers — are ranked 13th or lower vs. the pass. There should be plenty of chances for Johnson, who had 11 touchdowns through eight games, to find the endzone on some big plays.

4. Bears RB Matt Forté (No. 5) — A pair of fumbles, including one that was returned for a TD, were a concern for Forté in Chicago's Monday night win over the Eagles. Yet, when it mattered most, Forté grinded out the tough yards the Bears needed. His 133 rushing yards were the most by a Bear on "Monday Night Football" since Walter Payton gained 157 in 1978.

5. Giants QB Eli Manning (NR)As Eric Edholm wrote in this week's "Shorts and Shells," Manning knows how to make plays when he needs to. His passer rating is at its highest in the final two minutes of each half, as is his completion percentage. When the score is within seven points in the fourth quarter, Manning has thrown seven TDs and just one interception this season.

6. Patriots QB Tom Brady (No. 2) — There's only so much Brady can do without much of a running game or defense to support him, and it's hard to say he is the reason the Patriots have lost two straight. Still, Brady's three turnovers Sunday were costly.

7. Saints QB Drew Brees (No. 7) — It seems like Brees is passing another legend in the record books each week. He extended his streak of games with at least one TD pass to 36 Sunday vs. the Buccaneers, tying him for second all-time with Brett Favre for the longest streak in NFL history (trailing only Johnny Unitas' 47 games in a row). Brees also passed Joe Montana on the all-time completions list and is in 10th place with 3,414.

8. Bills RB Fred Jackson (No. 4) — The Bills enter the second half of the season with dreams of breaking their 11-year postseason drought, and Jackson has the ability to lead them to the playoffs. As a runner, receiver and blocker, the running back is the key piece in Chan Gailey's offense. "(Jackson's) doing an amazing job for our football team right now," Gailey said last week. "We wouldn't be where we are without him, I know that."

9. Texans RB Arian Foster (cusp) — The Texans have leaned heavily on Foster since WR Andre Johnson was hurt against the Steelers in Week Four, and Foster, the league's leading rusher last season, has been a beast. Foster has rushed for 112 yards or more in four of the past six games, including Sunday's win over the Browns, when he ran for 124 yards. With Johnson expected to return soon and Foster running well, the Texans could have an unstoppable offense the second half of the season.

10. Steelers WR Mike Wallace (No. 9) — He was limited to just four catches for 68 yards Sunday against the Ravens, but Wallace still hauled in a touchdown and was a constant threat to the Baltimore secondary. With Hines Ward and Emmanuel Sanders hurt, don't be shocked if Wallace becomes an even greater part of the Steelers' offense.

Five on the cusp (in alphabetical order) — Eagles RB LeSean McCoy, Jets CB Darrelle Revis, Ravens RB Ray Rice, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, Panthers WR Steve Smith.

Follow Eli Kaberon on Twitter