It’s almost Week 14, and the NFL’s most impressive kid quarterbacks are not fading away down the stretch. In fact, a few of them are making cases for MVP consideration.
Two rookie signalcallers — Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson — are among our top 10 candidates on this week’s MVP Meter, and a third rookie quarterback — Andrew Luck — is on the cusp of breaking into the top 10.
With four games to play, the Redskins are in the playoff hunt, and the Colts and Seahawks would make the playoffs as wild cards if the season ended today. These quarterbacks are not just putting up impressive individual numbers — they are leading teams that are in playoff contention, which is why they have earned their respective spots on the Meter.
(Last week’s ranking in parentheses)
1. Broncos QB Peyton Manning (No. 1) — The Broncos dimmed the Bucs’ playoff hopes Sunday and clinched the AFC West title with their seventh consecutive win. Denver actually trailed Tampa Bay at halftime, but Manning sparked a comeback, throwing two third-quarter TD passes to WR Demaryius Thomas.
2. Texans DE J.J. Watt (No. 3) — Watt strengthened his MVP case even more in Houston’s Week 13 win over the Titans, recording a sack, forcing a fumble (his first of the season) and deflecting two passes, one of which was intercepted. He is the first player in league history to record 15 sacks (he has 15½) and 15 passes defensed in a season.
3. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (No. 4) — Rodgers, the league’s highest-rated passer (105.0), remains a top contender for the MVP award after leading the Packers to a bounce-back win over the Vikings after an ugly loss to the Giants.
4. Patriots QB Tom Brady (No. 2) — The Patriots clinched the AFC East title with a win Sunday at Miami, but Brady was off. He completed a season-low 60.0 percent of his passes, averaged only 5.95 yards per pass and threw one pick (only his fourth of the season).
5. Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (No. 6) — His passing production dipped considerably vs. the Giants on Monday night, but RG3 still posted a passer rating of better than 100 — the third game in a row in which he has accomplished the feat — and made enough plays with his arm and his legs (five rushes for 72 yards) for the Redskins to get a win and keep their playoff hopes alive.
6. Falcons QB Matt Ryan (No. 5) — We watched another so-so performance from Ryan in the Falcons’ win over the Saints. He threw for a season-low 165 yards and ended his streak of games with at least one turnover at three. Despite his recent ups and downs, Atlanta is still 11-1 and has clinched the NFC South.
7. Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (No. 9) — Peterson (210 yards rushing, TD vs. Green Bay) moves up on the Meter this week even though the team he plays for lost to the Packers, but he is probably close to his ceiling on the Meter barring a turnaround by the Vikings.
8. Broncos LB Von Miller (No. 10) — Miller’s 26-yard pick-six (his first career interception) sealed Denver’s win over Tampa Bay in the third quarter, but he didn’t let up. He also recorded his 15th sack with a strip-sack of Bucs QB Josh Freeman in the fourth quarter, slowing down the Bucs’ momentum after a 24-yard gain on the previous play, a play during which he appeared injured. He had a pass deflection in the game, too.
9. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (not ranked) — Wilson capped off his fourth straight game with a passer rating of 104 or better by leading the Seahawks on TD drives of 97 and 80 yards in their overtime upset of the Bears at Soldier Field.
10. Texans RB Arian Foster (No. 8) — He rushed for his league-leading 13th rushing TD vs. the Titans in the Texans’ sixth-straight win, but Foster was held to 38 yards on a season-low 14 carries (2.7 average). The Texans may get more conservative with their usage of Foster in games like Sunday's, when they hold a comfortable lead.
On the cusp (in alphabetical order): Bucs QB Josh Freeman, Bengals WR A.J. Green, Lions WR Calvin Johnson, Colts QB Andrew Luck, Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch, Bears WR Brandon Marshall, Bucs RB Doug Martin, Texans QB Matt Schaub, 49ers OLB Aldon Smith, Colts WR Reggie Wayne.