With only two weeks remaining in the regular season, the race for the MVP is getting closer. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers had his worst performance of the season in Week 15, and for the first time all year, the Packers lost. At the same time, Saints QB Drew Brees and Patriots QB Tom Brady each had impressive road victories and crept closer to the top spot in the Meter.
So how close is it really? In my estimation, not very.
Rodgers still has a wide lead on both Brees and Brady for a plethora of reasons. Despite having one subpar week (17-of-35 passing, 235 yards, one TD, no interceptions, one rushing TD), the full-season résumé of Rodgers still far exceeds the other two quarterbacks.
Brees, while throwing for more yards, has fewer touchdowns, almost twice as many interceptions and averages a yard less per attempt as his Green Bay counterpart.
Brady, the reigning winner of the award, has even fewer touchdowns and a lower completion percentage than both Rodgers and Brees.
Then there's the fact that both Brees (Week Six vs. the Bucs) and Brady (Week Three vs. the Bills) also have had bad performances this season in road losses. Losing to the Chiefs is no different for Rodgers than what either other of his foes experienced earlier in the year. Meanwhile, in their other 13 games, Rodgers consistently has been the best of the three.
The three QBs are making the MVP race interesting down the stretch, but it's still Rodgers checking his rearview mirror for the other two.
(Last week's rankings in parenthesis)
1. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (No. 1) — Even in a losing cause, Rodgers found his way into the record books in Week 15. His third-quarter touchdown throw to Donald Driver was his 40th of the season, setting the all-time Packers single-season record. Previously Brett Favre, who had 39 TD tosses in 1996 (en route to league MVP honors), was the franchise leader.
2. Saints QB Drew Brees (No. 2) — Based on passer rating, Brees had his best game of the season last Sunday when he torched the Vikings to the tune of 412 passing yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions while completing 80 percent of his throws. The 149.2 rating was the third-highest rating of any quarterback this season and the best of any for a player throwing more than 15 passes.
3. Patriots QB Tom Brady (No. 3) — Throwing a pair of touchdown passes is nothing new for Brady, as he seemingly does that every week. However, it was his rushing score — his first of the season — that made news. Brady threw down an emphatic spike once reaching the endzone and said after the game, "I don't get in the endzone very often — maybe once or twice per season — so when I do, I get pretty excited. It's nice to score."
4. Giants QB Eli Manning (No. 4) — The toughest call in this week's Meter was who to place at the fourth spot. Manning played awful in Week 15, with zero touchdowns and three interceptions in a home loss to the Redskins. However, his body of work throughout the entire season still eclipses the other candidates for this spot.
5. Cowboys QB Tony Romo (No. 6) — Turnovers always have been the Achilles' heel for Romo, but lately, he has done a terrific job in protecting the ball. He hasn't thrown an interception in six of the team's last seven games and has lost only two fumbles all season. Dallas has a chance to clinch the NFC East this week with a win over the Eagles and with a Giants loss to the Jets.
6. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (No. 5) — I doubt Roethlisberger or the Steelers want to face the Harbaughs anymore this season. In two games versus John Harbaugh's Ravens and one vs. Jim's 49ers, Big Ben has thrown two touchdown passes, seven interceptions and is 0-3. In his 11 other starts, Roethlisberger has 19 touchdowns to seven interceptions and a 10-1 record.
7. Texans RB Arian Foster (Cusp) — Even in a losing effort in Week 15, Foster showed his value to the Texans, gaining 167 total yards and scoring the team's only touchdown. The Texans still have a chance at a first-round playoff bye, something the running back — who is getting more than 25 touches per game — would likely appreciate.
8. Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs (No. 8) — The proud alum of Ball So Hard University didn't show up too much last week, registering only two tackles in the Ravens' loss to the Chargers. Expect a turnaround this Saturday against the Browns — Suggs has 13 sacks in 15 games against them in his nine-year career.
9. Broncos QB Tim Tebow (No. 7) — Still a work in progress as a passer, Tebow showed the Patriots in Week 15 that he is one of the NFL's top rushing quarterbacks. He gained 93 yards on 12 carries and scored two touchdowns, though it wasn't enough to lead Denver to a seventh consecutive victory in a 41-23 loss.
10. Lions WR Calvin Johnson (Cusp) — It had been a rough stretch for Megatron, as he went five games without eclipsing 100 receiving yards. That all came to a halt in Week 15 against the Raiders, as Johnson went off for 9-214-2 in a huge come-from-behind 28-27 win at Oakland.
Five on the cusp (in alphabetical order) — Eagles DE Jason Babin, 49ers RB Frank Gore, Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch, Ravens RB Ray Rice, Falcons QB Matt Ryan
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