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MVP Meter: Circle the wagons

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Recent posts by Eli Kaberon

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Posted May 30, 2012 @ 2:15 p.m.

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Posted Sept. 20, 2011 @ 12:50 p.m. ET
By Eli Kaberon

Just a couple of weeks ago, few people would have predicted that Ryan Fitzpatrick would be an MVP candidate this season. Though the Bills' QB had a solid season in 2010 (3,000 yards, 23 TDs, 15 INTs), historically, voters don't hand out awards to signalcallers with those type of stats for a last-place team, which Buffalo was a year ago. And with a shaky offensive line in front of him and an inexperienced receiving corps — which lost veteran Lee Evans just a few weeks before the season began — there were plenty of people doubting if Fitzpatrick could even duplicate the stats he posted in 2010.

Through two weeks of the season, Fitzpatrick is making those doubters think again. Leading the league's highest-scoring offense, the former seventh-round pick from Harvard is torching opponents to the tune of seven touchdowns to just one interception and a 109.6 QB rating. More importantly, the Bills are 2-0 and tied with the Jets and Patriots for first in the AFC East, the major reason Fitzpatrick has earned an appearance on the MVP Meter. With New England and their own MVP candidate coming to Buffalo this week, the Bills' QB has a big chance to convert even more doubters.

(Last weeks ranking in parenthesis)

1. Patriots QB Tom Brady (No. 1) — The Patriots are not only airing it out, they are doing it with great success. Brady ranks in the top two in the league in attempts, completions, yards, completion percentage, touchdowns and QB rating. This week he faces the Bills, whom he is 17-1 against with 39 touchdown passes, the most of any opponent.

2. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (No. 2) — Famously passed over by the 49ers for the top pick in the 2005 draft, Rodgers has made it his mission to terrorize No. 1 overall selections ever since. Since becoming the Packers' starter in 2008, he has notched wins over clubs led by Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Alex Smith, Michael Vick and Matthew Stafford. Last Sunday, Rodgers added Cam Newton to the list, throwing for 308 yards and two TDs in a comeback win against the Panthers.

3. Saints QB Drew Brees (No. 4) — Brees and the fast-paced Saints offense are perfect for the climate-controlled conditions. That turns out to be a positive this season, as the Saints will play 10 of their final 14 games in domes. The only remaining outdoor games are in the not-so-hostile weather climates of Jacksonville, Charlotte, Tampa and Nashville.

4. Ravens RB Ray Rice (No. 5) — Week Two was rough not only for Rice, but the entire Ravens team, who were overwhelmed by the Titans in a 26-13 loss. The running back still managed 96 total yards and a receiving touchdown, however, and should be able to bounce back this Sunday against the banged-up Rams.

5. Lions QB Matthew Stafford (Cusp) — Injuries held Stafford back his first two seasons in the league, as he played just 13 games combined in 2009 and '10. This year he's staying healthy thanks in large part to improved play by the Lions' offensive line, which hasn't allowed an opponent to sack Stafford through two weeks.

6. Chargers QB Philip Rivers (No. 6) — Opponents have made it clear to Rivers: We're not going to let you have both WR Vincent Jackson and TE Antonio Gates at your disposal. In Week One, the Vikings focused on Jackson, limiting him to just two receptions, while Gates hauled in eight. The Patriots did the opposite in Week Two. Gates was thrown at only once — the pass was intercepted — while Rivers and Jackson hooked up 10 times for 172 yards and two TDs.

7. Lions WR Calvin Johnson (No. 8) — There are a lot of tough tasks in the NFL, but near the top of the list is for cornerbacks to keep Johnson out of the endzone. He has four TDs in two games this year, and 38 total in his career. Even a sore ankle doesn't seem to be slowing him down.

8. Eagles QB Michael Vick (No. 3) — Vick's return to the Georgia Dome didn't go as expected, as the QB threw an interception, lost a pair of fumbles, saw his defense give up a big lead and left concussed and bloody. He may miss this weeks big NFC East showdown with the Giants because of the hits he took vs. the Falcons.

9. Jets CB Darrelle Revis (No. 9) Why was Revis crying during the Jets' 32-3 thrashing of the Jaguars in Week Two? Because Jacksonville WR Jason Hill, the man who said that the All-Pro corner was "overhyped," was made inactive by Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio. "I was in tears that he didn't play," Revis sarcastically told ESPN New York. "If you're going to trash talk, at least show up and play so you can prove yourself, and he didn't."

10. Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (Not ranked) — Fitzpatrick had plenty of chance to be a hero in 2010, as the Bills often had chances to win games in the fourth quarter or overtime last season. That didn't happen too much, a major reason the team finished 4-12. Last Sunday, Fitzpatrick showed how much he's changed, going 8-for-13 on the final drive of the game, capping it with the winning six-yard TD to WR David Nelson, helping the team improve to 2-0.

Five on the cusp (in alphabetical order) — Bears RB Matt Forte, Bills RB Fred Jackson, Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, Texans QB Matt Schaub

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