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MVP Meter: Considering Manning's value

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Recent posts by Eli Kaberon

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Posted Oct. 25, 2011 @ 7:19 p.m. ET
By Eli Kaberon

There is one noteworthy name that has been absent from the MVP Meter this season. Colts QB Peyton Manning, a three-time PFW/Professsional Football Writers of America MVP award winner, has yet to play this season as he recovers from neck surgery. Without him, the Colts, who won 10 or more games nine straight years with Manning under center, are winless through seven weeks.

Should the fact that the Colts have been so good with Manning and are so bad without him make him a candidate for the MVP award this season? There are legitimate arguments to be made for both sides in this debate. One could say he should be an MVP because his team has shown how much they need him. Indianapolis ranks 30th in the league in yards per game, a shockingly low number given how much talent the Colts have at wide receiver and tight end. It's impossible to know where the Colts would rank if Manning was playing, but one has to assume they'd be a bit higher up if No. 18 was under center instead of Curtis Painter.

Then again, some feel the award should be given to a player who is actually playing.

Manning may be great and his talents are certainly being missed by the Colts, but he's not going to register on the meter if he's not playing.

While Manning is no doubt showing how tremendously valuable he is to the Colts, it is unfair to reward a player on the sideline over the ones who are showcasing their worth every weekend on the field.

(Last week's ranking in parentheses)

1. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (No. 1) — Rodgers enters the Packers' bye well ahead of everyone else in the MVP race. In a season full of brilliant performances, the Packers' QB may have had his best game of the year in Week Seven, completing 80 percent of his passes and throwing for 335 yards and three TDs against the Vikings.

2. Patriots QB Tom Brady (No. 2) — The Steelers have long had one of the league's top defenses, but the Steel Curtain has had no answers for Brady. In regular season play, Brady is 4-1 all-time vs. Pittsburgh and he's thrown 12 TD passes and only three interceptions in those five games. A win this Sunday vs. the Steelers will give Brady and head coach Bill Belichick 117 victories together, the most of any quarterback-head coach duo in NFL history.

3. Lions WR Calvin Johnson (No. 3) — What makes Megatron so dangerous? He's fast, tall and has more hops than a keg of beer, but it's his ability to reach any pass in his general vicinity that makes him so hard to defend. According to ESPN's Sports Science, Johnson has a catch radius of more than 4,000 cubic feet. Matthew Stafford can put the ball just about anywhere, and Johnson can go get it.

4. Saints QB Drew Brees (No. 4) — Against the Colts in Week Seven, Brees had more touchdown passes (five) than incompletions (four) despite not even playing in the fourth quarter of the 62-7 win. The game marked the fourth time he has thrown five touchdowns and no interceptions in his career, which ties him with Brady and Peyton Manning for the most in NFL history.

5. Bills RB Fred Jackson (No. 5) — Jackson has been dominant so far this season, but now he must take his show on the road to Toronto, where the Bills play a home game each year. In the last two seasons playing north of the border, the running back has struggled, gaining just 47 yards on 21 carries against the Jets (2009) and Bears (2010).

6. Bears RB Matt Forté (cusp) — With 672 rushing yards and 419 receiving yards through seven games, Forté is the first player since 2004 — when both Priest Holmes and Tiki Barber did it — to have more than 1,000 total yards in his first seven games. The number Forte is still looking to find is the one he and the Bears agree on when it comes to his salary on a new contract.

7. 49ers RB Frank Gore (No. 9) — How does Gore move up a pair of spots without even playing? Because after a further examination of his performance, it was obvious that he was undervalued last week. The Niners' workhorse is one of the few elite playmakers for a team that has the second-best record in the NFC. Gore has three rushes for 40 yards or more, which is tied for most in the league.

8. Patriots WR Wes Welker (No. 8) — Football is a game of matchups, and it will be interesting to see how the Steelers match up with Welker Sunday. Pittsburgh has the stingiest pass defense in the NFL, but it has yet to see a wideout like Welker, who is on pace to break Jerry Rice's record for receiving yards in a season.

9. Raiders RB Darren McFadden (No. 6) — The bye comes at the right time for McFadden, as a foot injury forced him out of the game early in Week Seven. He still has done enough this season to be a factor in the MVP race, thanks in large part to his 5.4 yards per carry and five total touchdowns.

10. Steelers WR Mike Wallace (No. 10) — When asked how he got so open on his 95-yard touchdown in Week Seven against the Cardinals, Wallace said it was fairly simple. "I saw they didn't have a safety in the middle of the field," the receiver said. "That's all she wrote." Just a suggestion, but it would be smart for future Pittsburgh opponents to double-team the wideout, who is averaging more than 20 yards per catch.

Five on the cusp (in alphabetical order) — Texans RB Arian Foster, Packers WR Greg Jennings, Giants QB Eli Manning, Jets CB Darrelle Revis, Ravens RB Ray Rice.

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