With the Saints somehow finding a way to stay undefeated and quarterback Drew Brees continuing to have a passer rating higher than Adrian Peterson’s top cruising speed, Brees remains, in our estimation, the current favorite for league MVP.
Here’s our weekly look at our own list of the five most valuable players in the league.
1. Brees: He said last week that going undefeated is within the team’s grasp. Winning the last four games of the regular season is a far simpler proposition than erasing a 10-point deficit three different times against the Redskins, and somehow having the chip shot that would have delivered a fourth 10-point deficit sail wide.
2. Peyton Manning, Colts: On Sunday, Manning and his teammates defeated a better team in more convincing fashion. But his numbers slightly trail Brees (with the exception of passing yardage), and the apparent intention by coach Jim Caldwell to treat all post-clinch games like a late-season preseason will cause the gap to grow.
3. Brett Favre, Vikings: In most other years, a random bad game won’t derail a guy’s shot at the MVP award. In 1995, when Favre won his first, he had three multi-interception games, including passer ratings of 46.1, 60.6, and 62.5. In ’96, when he won MVP No. 2, Favre had three games with two picks. In ’97, when he shared No. 3 with Barry Sanders, Favre had four games with two or more interceptions. Still, given the unprecedentedly strong field of candidates in 2009, one bad game can kill a candidacy. For Favre, Sunday night’s two-pick showing against the Cardinals might have prevented him from landing in the top spot on enough of the 50 Associated Press ballots.
4. Chris Johnson, Titans: Even though Tennessee’s five-game winning streak ended, Johnson quietly added 113 yards to his total for the season. It gives him 1,509 with four games to play, and it still keeps him on pace for 2,000 -- and within striking distance of 2,105.
5. Charles Woodson, Packers: If Ndomakong Suh can finagle a trip to New York for the Heisman ceremony, then the only defensive player to ever win the thing deserves consideration for the NFL’s MVP award. Woodson already has been named the NFC defensive player of the month twice this year, and he arguably sealed last night’s win with a knifing lunge at Willis McGahee, which required us to inspect the replay for evidence that Woodson had a red cape tucked under his green jersey.