Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/19/14
Peyton Manning shared the MVP award with Steve McNair in 2003, the first of the former Colts quarterback’s Hall of Fame career. Counting that season, either Manning or Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been named NFL MVP six times in those nine seasons. It’s beginning to look like it could be one of those two legends once again coming away with the trophy this season. Manning and Brady have us marveling over their play once again, and the two may be on a crash course to meet once again in the AFC Championship. If that does happen, there’s a good chance this season’s MVP will be on the field. Let’s get to this week’s NFL MVP power rankings. Tom Brady — New England Patriots quarterback  The Patriots keep on winning, and Brady keeps on impressing. New England has dominated the competition in the last two weeks, having torn up the Colts and Jets, helping the Pats to an unbelievable 108 points in just two weeks. In fact, the Patriots are averaging an unheard of 43.8 points per game in their five contests since losing to Seattle in Week 6.Brady has 14 touchdowns and no interceptions over that time, and he’s been surgical with the football. The fact that the Patriots have some horrible football teams — the Jets (twice), Rams, Bills and Colts — also helps out. So, too, does the fact that he had the best week of anyone on this list. But like we said last week, the Patriots’ offense is the league’s best, and that all starts with Brady. They’ve got some big games coming up (Miami, Houston and San Francisco are their next three opponents), and this is Brady’s award to win in those three games. Week 12 performance: 18/28, 323 yards, 3 TD (Win) Season: 105.0 rating, 64.3 completion percentage, 24 touchdowns, 3 INT Last week’s ranking: 3 Peyton Manning — Denver Broncos quarterback Manning was reminded on Sunday of just how difficult it can be to solve a Romeo Crennel defense, but give the Broncos quarterback credit for going into a hostile environment and getting the road win against a divisional opponent — even if that opponent was Kansas City. Even so, Manning still completed 22 of 37 passes with a pair of touchdowns in a 17-9 win over the Chiefs. He did make one ugly decision to throw deep into triple coverage resulting in his eighth interception of the season. However, manning’s passer rating still sits at 104.8 on the season, and the Broncos are 8-3 and running away with the AFC West. Manning stays at No. 2 on this list more in part to the play of the man at No. 1 and No. 3 rather than what he did this week against Kansas City. Week 12 performance: 22/37, 285 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, (Win) Season: 104.8 rating, 67.7 completion percentage, 26 touchdowns, 8 INT Last week’s ranking: 2 Aaron Rodgers — Green Bay Packers quarterback Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in the world, there’s no denying that. But he’s a human being, and human beings often have difficult times standing in the pocket and delivering accurate passes when there are even larger human beings chasing him down. The Packers were throttled 38-10 on Sunday night by the Giants in the swamps of New Jersey, and Rodgers never had any sort of rhythm going. It wasn’t entirely his doing, as the Giants pressured him all night long, with the Green Bay offensive line (which has allowed Rodgers to be sacked a league-leading 37 times this season) turning what had been an underperfoming Giants pass rush into the vaunted attack we had been accustomed to seeing from Big Blue. Rodgers is at his best when he’s able to go through his progressions and spread the ball around the field. The Giants gave him practically no time whatsoever to do so on Sunday night, and Rodgers and Co. struggled mightily because of it. The Packers are also banged up, which isn’t helping their case one bit. Rodgers is going to have to will this team to the playoffs at this rate, and he’ll have to get a start on that this weekend against a Vikings team that is only one game behind the Packers for a wild card spot in the NFC. Week 12 performance: 14/25, 219 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT (Loss) Season: 105.6 rating, 66.5 completion percentage, 28 touchdowns, 7 INT Last week’s ranking: 1 Matt Ryan — Atlanta Falcons quarterback  If there’s one thing =Ryan knows how to do, it’s win regular season NFL games. The Falcons starter is now 53-20 in his young NFL career in the regular season after eking out another victory, this time at Tampa Bay on Sunday. The Bucs are a tough football team, and Ryan did more than enough for the Falcons to win on Sunday. He was precise with the football, completing 81.3 percent of his 32 passes while adding 353 yards and a touchdown. Stats only tell part of the story with Ryan, and if the Falcons just keep winning and winning, it’s going to be extremely difficult to argue his credentials for the award. He finds ways to win football games, and there’s nothing more valuable than that. His five-interception game against Arizona in Week 11 is still fresh on the mind, but if he turns in another big showing this week against New Orleans and helps the Falcons to 11-1, Ryan could find himself moving at least one spot up this list. Week 12 performance: 26/32, 353 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT (Win) Season: 96.1 rating, 68.5 completion percentage, 21 TD, 13 INT Last week’s ranking: 4 J.J. Watt, Houston Texans defensive end It’s very  unlikely that Watt wins the award — a defensive player hasn’t won since Lawrence Taylor in 1986 — but he certainly deserves to make the list. Watt is the most important player on one of the best teams in football, and he had another big game on Thanksgiving in front of the country. The Wisconsin product had five tackles, three sacks and a pair of pass deflections in Houston’s overtime win at Detroit. Watt no longer leads the NFL in sacks (Aldon Smith has 16.5), but Watt’s 14.5 sacks are good for second in the league. When you factor in his ability to disrupt the passing game not only behind the line of scrimmage, but at the line with his 13 pass deflections, you get a real sense of how disruptive he is. Games are won on the line in December and into the playoffs, and the Texans have themselves arguably the best defensive trenches player in football right now. Week 12 performance: 5 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 pass deflections Season:  54 tackles, 14.5 sacks, 13 pass deflections Last week’s ranking: Unranked Most valuable notes: Ben Roethlisberger‘s injury almost all but takes him out of the conversation, but the Steelers’ play in their quarterback’s absence should tell you just how valuable No. 7 is to the black and gold. … Adrian Peterson fell off of our list after he coughed up a pair of fumbles against the Bears on Sunday. … Somehow you get the feeling that Robert Griffin III (Eight passing touchdowns and no picks as well as 113 rushing yards in the last two weeks) will find his way onto this list very soon, and not leave for the next 10-15 years or so.
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