There was an elementary school campaign that some of us were treated to as kids that emphasized “The Three Rs,” namely Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic.
Well, this year’s MVP race is also shaping up as the Three Rs right now, namely Rivers, Ryan and Rodgers.
Philip Rivers retained the top spot by the cumulative voting of our 10 selectors, but lost two of his first-place votes to Matt Ryan (and one to Peyton Hillis. The football world is starting to catch up to our praise of Ryan (the No. 1 passer in our rankings), and a surgical effort vs. Green Bay in a big national game didn’t hurt.
Aaron Rodgers was similarly good in that NFC showdown, and moved up a spot this week despite the loss (and a key fumble).
1.Philip Rivers, San Diego (92 points, six first-place votes)
Rivers is coming off two good games (as opposed to the usual great); he hasn’t had that one unbelievable game all year, but no other player in the league is as consistently good as he is. His only negative is penalties; he’s taken nine this year, tied with Brett Favre and Alex Smith for most in the NFL.
2. Matt Ryan, Atlanta (73 points, two first-place votes)
Ryan is catching up fast here; he’s No. 1 in our grades, and over the past six weeks he’s been just spectacular. His most spectacular stat? In 124 dropbacks while facing pressure, he hasn’t thrown a single interception.
3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (59 points)
Another product of the Golden Age of Quarterbacks. He’s only thrown 25 incompletions over his last three games, and he’s averaged 9.3 yards an attempt to prove it’s no West Coast fluke.
4. Trent Cole, Philadelphia (54 points)
Cole was great in the Eagles’ loss to Chicago, terrorizing the Bears to the tune of two sacks and six pressures. Good to see him picking up the raw numbers (six sacks in six weeks) that will help him toward the Defensive Player of the Year award he still clearly deserves.
5. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (40 points)
Manning was the clear No. 1 choice just five weeks ago, but he fell completely off two of our ballots this week. But while his raw numbers (and interceptions) have gone in the tank over a five-game span, he’s continued to get very good grades from our analysts. In other words, he’s the same old Peyton. And just how bad would this team be without him?
6. Michael Vick, Philadelphia (33 points)
Don’t blame Michael for the loss to Chicago. Against a very tough defense, Vick graded at 5.1 and made plays all over the field.
7. Julius Peppers, Chicago (29 points)
Peppers wasn’t his best against the Eagles, as Jason Peters gave him a run for his money – Peters lost the battle, but Peppers didn’t go wild, either. But on a night when Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs were both off, Peppers gave them enough to win.
8. Peyton Hillis, Cleveland (28 points, 1 first-place vote)
He’s not the best back in the league, but he sure is playing like it. Great in all phases of the game this year for the Browns, and has 100+ yards from scrimmage four weeks running (with seven TDs).
9. Kyle Williams, Buffalo (27 points)
The defensive version of Hillis. He’s not on a good team, and he was no blue-chip talent, but this guy is absolutely tearing up the league. He looks like your buddy from the softball team, but he’s playing like Dan Hampton. He leads DTs in stops (39) and pressures (30), and is playing just about every snap.
10. Tom Brady, New England (26 points, 1 first-place vote)
Brady continues to be the center of debate both inside PFF and among our readers. He is only listed on four of our 10 ballots, with the consensus among our analysts that other QBs are simply having stronger seasons. They call them as they see them, whether it agrees with conventional wisdom or not.
Others receiving votes: Tamba Hali (20 points), Drew Brees (15), Brandon Lloyd (12), Brandon Flowers (8), Roddy White (8), Jamaal Charles (6), D’Brickashaw Ferguson (4), Clay Matthews (4), Bart Scott (4), Cameron Wake (3), Carl Nicks (3), Jake Long (3), Matt Schaub (3), Justin Smith (3), Dwayne Bowe (2), Ray Lewis (1), Maurice Jones-Drew (1), Sam Bradford (1).