MVP Meter: Brady takes slim lead

Dan Parr
December 12, 2012
Report: Patriots sign Brady to extension through 2017

With Tom Brady’s offense shredding J.J. Watt’s defense Monday night, Brady made a strong statement about where he belonged in the MVP race.

His dismantling of the Texans (296 yards, four TDs, no interceptions) set the table for a jump to the top spot on this week’s Meter. Brady was more impressive than Watt, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers in Week 14 in leading his team to a lopsided win over a Houston team that entered the game 11-1.

With three games to play this regular season, no quarterback has a higher passer rating than Brady (104.2). He has more passing yards (3,833) than Manning (3,812) and Rodgers (3,297). The only statistical area where Manning and Rodgers have significantly outdone Brady is in completion percentage, but their lead in that category is washed out by the fact that Brady has thrown fewer picks (four) than Rodgers (eight) and Manning (10).

What these numbers — individual statistics and team win-loss records (the Broncos and Patriots are 10-3 and the Packers are 9-4) — tell us is that the race is still very close.

Brady has the best chance to separate at least a bit from the pack in the final weeks of the season because of the competition he is facing. It appears he intends to make the most of that opportunity.

If he plays close to as well as he did against the Texans when New England hosts the 49ers in Week 15, the other top MVP candidates will have a tough time not losing ground in this battle.

(Last week’s ranking in parentheses)

1. Patriots QB Tom Brady (No. 4) — Brady punched the Texans’ in the mouth early in Monday night’s game, throwing three of his four TD passes in the first 19 minutes of regulation. Don’t forget, he’s doing this without injured TE Rob Gronkowski.

2. Broncos QB Peyton Manning (No. 1) — The Raiders actually did a decent job against Manning after the Broncos’ first drive of the game. They didn’t let him throw another TD pass after that drive and picked him off once. In a week where Tom Brady was close to perfect against the team with the best record in the AFC, Manning’s performance was good but didn’t measure up against lesser competition.

3. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (No. 3) — Green Bay’s running game came alive vs. the Lions on Sunday night and took a little of the pressure off Rodgers’ shoulders. Rodgers will welcome the help, but it doesn’t do much for his MVP chances. He was held without a TD pass for only the second time this season.

4. Texans DE J.J. Watt (No. 2) — Watt had three QB hits and forced a fumble that the Patriots recovered Monday night, but he was not the dominant force we have become accustomed to seeing this season in Houston’s blowout loss. He falls this week, but not too far — we’re not forgetting about those first 12 games of the season.

5. Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (No. 7) — Peterson, the league leader in rushing yards (1,600), carried the Vikings’ offense again Sunday. He rushed 31 times for 154 yards (5.0 average) and two TDs in Minnesota’s 21-14 win over the division rival Bears.

6. Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (No. 5) — With his status for Week 15 in question after suffering a right knee sprain Sunday, RG3 moves down a slot on this week’s Meter. Backup, and fellow rookie, Kirk Cousins came in and helped finish what RG3 started Sunday in Washington’s overtime win against Baltimore.

7. Broncos LB Von Miller (No. 8) — The fumble Miller forced set up Denver’s game-sealing TD in its win over the Raiders on Thursday night. His six forced fumbles are tied for second (with teammate Elvis Dumervil and the Panthers' Charles Johnson) behind Bears CB Charles Tillman’s nine, and Miller is third in sacks with 16.

8. 49ers OLB Aldon Smith (Cusp) — After recording two more sacks in the 49ers’ win over the Dolphins Sunday, Smith leads the league with 19½ and is only 3½ sacks away from breaking Michael Strahan’s record for most sacks in a season.

9. Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (Cusp) — Lynch set a new career high for rushing yards in a season (1,266) Sunday in Seattle’s shellacking of the Cardinals. He needed only 11 carries to gain 128 yards and score three TDs in the 58-0 rout.

10. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (No. 9) — The Seahawks didn’t really need all that much from Wilson Sunday given the way the Cardinals were playing and Marshawn Lynch was running. Coming off his impressive outing vs. the Bears, Wilson attempted only 13 passes.

On the cusp (in alphabetical order): Bengals DT Geno Atkins, Texans RB Arian Foster, Lions WR Calvin Johnson, Colts QB Andrew Luck, Bears WR Brandon Marshall, Falcons QB Matt Ryan, Texans QB Matt Schaub, Colts WR Reggie Wayne.