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MVP Meter: The race for second place

Posted Dec. 06, 2011 @ 8:16 p.m. ET
By Eli Kaberon

Spoiler Alert: The MVP race is over. If Aaron Rodgers had not done enough to convince voters that he is the most valuable player in the league during his first 11 games, then he surely did Sunday, when he drove the Packers down the field against the Giants' defense in the final minute of the game to help Green Bay stay undefeated.

The only suspenseful battle left to wonder about is for second place behind Rodgers. Two contenders stand out among the pack: Saints QB Drew Brees and Patriots QB Tom Brady. Each has a valid argument as to why they should be the silver medalist, as their numbers are almost identical across the board:

 

Drew Brees

Tom Brady

Yards

4,031

3,916

Completion percentage

70.4

66.7

Touchdowns

30

30

Interceptions

11

10

Completions of 20+ yards

50

50

Completions of 40+ yards

8

8

Sacks

21

21

Passer rating

105.5

105.9

Team Record

9-3

9-3

In this week's Meter, Brees edges Brady by the narrowest of margins. The Saints have been outstanding lately, blowing out two playoff contenders (the Giants and Lions) and never trailing in either game. Brady hasn't really done anything to lose the No. 2 spot on the Meter. His counterpart's recent surge has moved him back by default.

(Last week's ranking in parentheses)

1. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (No. 1) — It's far from the best indicator of how a quarterback is performing, but QB rating is a relevant stat when comparing game-to-game numbers. Rodgers had 106.2 rating against the Giants Sunday, which was his lowest of the season despite 369 yards and four touchdowns. Insane.

2. Saints QB Drew Brees (No. 3) — Several quarterbacks are producing at a record-setting pace this season, but Brees leads the pack when it comes to yardage. With 4,031 yards passing through 12 games, the Saints' signalcaller is on pace to break Dan Marino's single-season passing record of 5,084 yards. Brees finished 15 yards shy of matching the record in 2008.

3. Patriots QB Tom Brady (No. 2) — Without Peyton Manning, this season's Patriots-Colts game lost much of its luster. That didn't stop Brady from reminding Indy fans what an elite quarterback looks like, though, as he threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns in New England's 31-24 win.

4. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (No. 4) — Big Ben surely has a smile on his face this week, as there is no opponent he enjoys seeing more than the Browns. Roethlisberger is 12-1 all-time against Cleveland, including wins in his two games against the team last season, where he threw a total of five touchdowns and just one interception.

5. Texans RB Arian Foster (No. 5) — The Texans keep rolling toward their first-ever playoff appearance with Foster leading the way offensively. Foster had 152 total yards, accounting for 45 percent of the team's entire offensive output, in the Texans' win over the Falcons in Week 13.

6. Cowboys QB Tony Romo (No. 8) — The Cowboys lost the game, but Romo was impressive in Week 13 against the Cardinals, throwing for 299 yards. He'll need to play up to that level again in Week 14, when the Cowboys face the Giants, who are their top competition for a division title.

7. Giants QB Eli Manning (Cusp) — The last five Giants opponents are a combined 45-16 this season — it's no surprise then that Big Blue went 1-4 in those games. The team's struggles are not Manning's fault, however, as he is in the midst of arguably his best professional season. He likely will set a new career high for passing yards in a season, and, perhaps most importantly, has drastically cut down on interceptions compared to last season.

8. 49ers RB Frank Gore (No. 7) — Gore became the 49ers' all-time leading rusher Sunday, passing Joe Perry. Head coach Jim Harbaugh said instead of honoring the back with a plaque or game ball, the team should do something bigger. "There should be a statue to Frank," Harbaugh said. "A life-size statue of him in one of those cool positions he gets in — about six inches off the ground, or a leg going one way, and the other going the other, twisting and turning. It's just so cool."

9. Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs (No. 9) — He recorded another sack in Week 13 against the Browns and has 10 on the year. Add that to his five passes defensed, two interceptions and three forced fumbles, and it's easy to see why he's not only an MVP candidate, but the favorite for Defensive Player of the Year.

10. Broncos QB Tim Tebow (No. 10) — A week after rushing a record 22 times, Tebow had just four carries in a Week 13 win. He had his best game of the season as a passer, completing 66.7 percent of his passes and throwing for a pair of touchdowns against the Vikings.

Five on the cusp (in alphabetical order) — Titans QB Matt Hasselbeck, Lions WR Calvin Johnson, Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch, 49ers DL Justin Smith, Falcons RB Michael Turner.

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