While our clear leader in the MVP race, Philip Rivers, is probably the odds-on favorite with the actual MVP voters as well, Tom Brady isn’t far behind in the eyes of the national media and fans.
But our analysts aren’t as sold. Only three of our 10 voters listed Brady on their ballot, with one first-place vote not even enough to get him in the top 10.
Ben Stockwell feels that Brady, who ranks outside our top 10 in QB grades, doesn’t have to make tough throws in the Patriots’ quick-pass offense — in other words, his success (four INTs,100.6 passer rating) is as much a product of the system then his own individual brilliance.
On to the top 10, which features five QBs but not the Pats’ future Hall of Famer.
1. Philip Rivers, San Diego (99 points, nine first-place votes)
The man’s numbers are ridiculous. In our three years of grading, he’s only had two negative games out of 47 — one of which was a Week 17 pull-the-starters early affair. He hasn’t been great under pressure this year, but when he’s had time (more and more of it as the season goes on), he’s been ridiculously productive no matter which targets were on the field.
2. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (68 points)
Manning’s performance vs. New England will go down as a three-interception failure, but it was really a return to form for the slumping Colts QB. His offensive line has been significantly worse this year than last, and Pierre Garcon in particular is having a brutal season, but Manning is doing his part to keep a pretty poor Colts team afloat.
3. Michael Vick, Philadelphia (59 points)
Vick had a poor game vs. the Giants (-1.0 pass rating), but he’ll need to show that this is the rule and not the exception before he loses favor here. His first six starts were about as good as they get.
4. Matt Ryan, Atlanta (53 points)
Ryan was efficient again on Sunday, throwing no picks in 39 dropbacks versus St. Louis, but didn’t really take advantage of a good day by his running game and pass-blockers to put the Rams away before late in the fourth quarter.
5. Trent Cole, Philadelphia (42 points)
It was the defense that won the Sunday night game for the Eagles, and again it was Cole leading the charge. His contributions don’t show up on the official stat sheet (no sacks, two tackles), but he had a team-high seven QB pressures and was his normal solid self in run D.
6. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (37 points)
With Rodgers’ ruthless play having helped get Wade Phillips and Brad Childress fired in successive games, the Packers QB has reminded any doubters that he is an elite quarterback. Still think the Packers should’ve kept Brett Favre?
7. Tamba Hali, Kansas City (29 points)
Hali didn’t do as much as you would have expected against the Cardinals’ brutal O-line (two hits, three pressures, no sacks), and he’s still a minor liability against the run. But the first-place Chiefs would be absolutely lost without his 10 sacks, 11 hits and 45 pressures on the year.
8. Peyton Hillis, Cleveland (25 points)
The Browns’ do-it-all back didn’t find much running room versus Jacksonville, so he found his way in the passing game (six catches, 95 yards). Hillis is doing it for a 3-7 team, but Sam Monson — who voted him No. 5 overall — said, “I’ve got no problem nominating a guy from an 0-16 team if he’s the only reason that team made each of those games close.”
9. Clay Matthews, Green Bay (22 points)
Matthews hasn’t been as dominant in recent weeks after his ridiculous start, but he is the unquestioned focal point of a Packers defense that has allowed 10 points over the past three games.
10. Julius Peppers, Chicago (20 points)
Peppers finally added some obvious numbers (three sacks) to go with his remarkably good run support and pressure numbers, and with the Bears’ defense contributing so overwhelmingly to the team’s 7-3 record he could rise higher on this list.
Others receiving votes: Brandon Flowers (17), Tom Brady (17), Roddy White (11), Cameron Wake (10), Brandon Lloyd (10), Kyle Williams (9), Adrian Peterson (6), D’Brickashaw Ferguson (6), Jamaal Charles (4), Ray Lewis (4), Carl Nicks (3), Justin Smith (2), Matt Schaub (2), Eli Manning (1), Drew Brees (1)