It's the Peyton Manning show until further notice.
You've already heard hundreds of writers and pundits singing Peyton's praises, so we won't bore you with more hyperbole. The dude is really good at throwing footballs - let's leave it at that. Instead, let's focus on the guys breathing down his neck - who could put together a good enough season to challenge Mr. Manning?
As a reminder, here are scientific, peer-reviewed criteria we’re using to predict the next NFL MVP:
- Statistical Contribution
- Team performance
- Game-changing plays
- Recent performances
- Intangibles & other contributions
Let's get down to business!
1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos QB
Last week: 1
Last game: 28-34, 327 yds, 4 tds in a 52-20 win over the Philadelphia Eagles
That was one heck of a game, but it's not like the Philadelphia secondary is that great (or even very good). Next up for Peyton? A Dallas secondary that made Philip Rivers look like...well, Peyton Manning. The Cowboys have been absolutely wrecked through the air so far this season, and unless Dallas clones and signs four Richard Shermans in the next two days, this is going to be ugly.
2. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints QB
Last week: 4
Last game: 30-39, 413 yds, 4 tds in a 38-17 win over the Miami Dolphins
Well, well, well - look who's undefeated and looking like the team to beat in the NFC? The Saints are back, and Drew Brees would easily be the front-runner in the MVP race if he wasn't looking up at that guy in Denver. Brees has had some help so far - Jimmy Graham went from 'who is this dude that Steve took in the second round of our fantasy draft?' to 'easily the best tight end in the NFL, and it isn't even close' in just five weeks of football. This weekend, Brees takes on Jay Cutler's Chicago Bears, who are allowing 277.8 yards per game through the air (especially unimpressive when they've played the Steelers and the Vikings already).
3. Tom Brady, New England Patriots QB
Last week: N/R
Last game: 20-31, 316 yds, 2 tds in a 30-23 win over the Atlanta Falcons
Brady's passing numbers haven't set the world on fire, but let's look at the numbers that really matter: 4 wins and 0 losses. Tom Brady has somehow engineered four wins over despite a receiving corps that consists of Julian Edelman and five guys who were selling peanuts at Gillette Stadium a few weeks ago. If the Patriots can win even without proven receivers, how good will they be when Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski return to action? (spoiler alert: probably really good)
The Brady Bunch play the Cincinnati Bengals, a team good enough to rally from 16 down to beat Green Bay but bad enough to put up 6 points against the Cleveland Browns. It sounds like Amendola will be ready for Sunday, and that can only help the Patriots (and Brady's MVP candidacy).
4. Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks CB
Last week: N/R
Last game: 4 tackles, 1 INT, 1 TD in a 23-20 overtime win against the Houston Texans
Yeah, that's right. The Sherminator is having an absolutely unreal season so far, and he's playing at an absolutely elite level. Sherman commands the same kind of respect guys like Darrelle Revis and Nnamdi Asomugha did when they were at their peak, and still makes plays even though very few QBs are willing to throw to his side of the field.
His pick-six against the Texans won that game for Seattle - there's no way they could made it to overtime without his poise and awareness. This Sunday, Andrew Luck will probably be smart enough to test Sherman, but there will be QBs over the course of the season who won't be able to help themselves. Just like he did against Matt Schaub, Sherman will have no problem making those guys regret testing him.
5. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers QB
Last week: N/R
Last game: 35-42, 401 yds, 3 tds in a 30-21 win over the Dallas Cowboys
Even without a receiver who can stretch the field like Vincent Jackson, the Chargers are looking like a competent NFL offense, something no one outside of San Diego expected before the season kicked off. The man making it happen is everyone's favorite Rick Santorum supporter - Philip Rivers. Rivers is making huge throws, yelling, angrily staring into the distance, and generally doing the things that made the Chargers willing to part with Drew Brees so they could keep him around.
Up next? An Oakland Raiders secondary featuring the 57-year-old Charles Woodson and three guys you've never heard of. Rivers' performance against Dallas was the most accurate by a QB throwing at least 400 yards ever (Yeah, ever. In the history of the NFL), and he'll be gunning for more against San Diego's hapless divisional rivals.
On the verge:
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings RB
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears QB
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles RB
Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints TE
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons WRBack to the NFL Newsfeed