- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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Mike Sando's weekly MVP watch is up, and New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III make appearances in this week's top 10. Manning comes in at No. 8 after being ranked No. 2 last week. Griffin pops in at No. 10 after being unranked last week.
I think Manning's a fascinating case, because by the literal definition of the term "most valuable," he's No. 1 in the league. There's not a player in the NFL, in my opinion, more vital to the success of his team right now than Manning is for the Giants. I sincerely believe I am not overstating the case when I say they would be one of the worst teams in the league if he were to disappear from the lineup for the rest of the season. Not that they don't have other very good players, because they do. It's just that, over the past two seasons, it has been very clear that they are only capable of winning games when Manning is at his best and leading them. David Carr or any other replacement would be inadequate to the point of complete ineptitude, so closely tied have the Giants' fortunes become to the quality of Manning's play on a week-to-week basis.
Therefore, the question when it comes to including Manning on a list such as this is how he's played so far this year. Not great in Week 1 against Dallas, shaky and sloppy in the first half in Week 2 against Tampa Bay but brilliant and MVP-caliber in the fourth quarter. Outstanding in Week 3 in Carolina. Kind of up-and-down and a little bit mistakey in Week 4 in Philadelphia. And his team is 2-2. I think his obvious value to his team makes him worthy of this list, but if they start losing more than they win, that's the kind of thing that justifiably drops a guy from the conversation.
As for Griffin, I argued his case when Mike solicited input Tuesday night, and it appears I was persuasive. The Redskins look very bad on defense right now, and Griffin is directing one of the league's highest-scoring offenses with his arm and his legs. He's not turning the ball over. He's making smart decisions. He's acting as a leader. And yeah, if you want to talk "value," I think it's fair to say he's a bit of an upgrade over what they had at quarterback last year, and it's showing.
The Eagles, of course, are the only winning team in the division right now, but I didn't have an obvious candidate to give Mike for this list. Michael Vick has led three game-winning drives, which is great, but prior to Sunday he'd kind of done more harm than good with the turnovers. LeSean McCoy is clearly quite valuable but a bit underused. My feeling is that the Eagles' MVP is someone on defense, such as DeMeco Ryans, but I don't think there's anyone on that defense just yet who rises to the level of a league-wide top-10 MVP candidates list the way J.J. Watt does. So we'll keep watching that, especially if the Eagles keep winning.