Mike Sando's MVP Watch
It's just not feasible.
Of course, few can do what Tim Tebow is doing in Denver.
Rank 'Em: NFL MVP Candidates
Who tops your ballot for NFL MVP heading into Week 15? Consider the candidates and submit your rankings for NFL MVP honors.
The way the Broncos' second-year quarterback and all-purpose threat suddenly becomes dominant in fourth quarters continues to confound, as does Tebow's unconventional playing style.
I found Trent Dilfer's column helpful in making sense of the madness. The way Dilfer sees things, Tebow and Cam Newton threaten defenses far more than typical scrambling quarterbacks because defenses must respect them as primary runners, not just occasional ones.
"Defenses find themselves in the almost impossible situation of entering a three-reaction mode," Dilfer wrote. "They can't just react to the fake handoff, and they can't just second react to the threat of the pass. They have to react a third time to threat of the run by the quarterback."
As a result, coverages break down badly enough at times to leave receivers not just open, but completely uncovered. Even unrefined passers can complete passes in those situations. Tebow figures to have additional opportunities against the Patriots' weak pass defense. Count me among those who thinks the Broncos have a chance.
Rodgers has thrown an interception in back-to-back weeks for the first time since Oct. 2. Time for mass panic in Green Bay, right? Well, no. The Packers scored 84 points in those two games, with an occasional assist from their defense. Rodgers did finish a game with an NFL passer rating in double digits, something that had not happened all season. In fact, his ratings over the past two games were his lowest of the season.
Week 14 vs. OAK
2. DREW BREESQuarterback | New Orleans Saints ... Next Game: 12/18 at MIN ... Last Poll: 2
Brees draws plenty of attention for the passing yards he's racking up at a record pace. Let's consider some of the little things, too. Brees already has more rushing yardage (68) than he's had in any full season since 2004. He has a rushing touchdown for the first time since 2009. He has not fumbled once in 566 drop backs, despite taking nearly as many sacks (23) in 13 games as he took in 16 last season (25). Brees had 66 career fumbles in 10 previous seasons. His total interceptions (22) and fumbles (nine) last season are nearly triple his total through 13 games this season.
Week 14 at TEN
3. TOM BRADYQuarterback | New England Patriots ... Next Game: 12/18 at DEN ... Last Poll: 3
The interception Brady threw in the red zone against Washington was nearly as stunning as the pass Wes Welker dropped near the goal line. Brady still finished the game with a victory to go along with his second game in three weeks featuring at least 350 yards passing. Brady has taken only three sacks for minus-13 yards over his past three games, but his offensive line could not top the Redskins-Patriots officiating crew for the protection afforded the 2010 MVP. Brady is tough enough to defend without referees throwing flags for hits like the one London Fletcher delivered.
Week 14 at WAS
4. ELI MANNINGQuarterback | New York Giants ... Next Game: 12/18 vs. WAS ... Last Poll: 7
Any doubts about Manning's value to the Giants had to have disappeared after the quarterback's latest fourth-quarter comeback victory. Manning finished the game against Dallas with 400 yards passing and no sacks in 47 drop backs against a defense featuring DeMarcus Ware. That is sensational production. Two weeks earlier, Manning took only one sack and passed for 406 yards on 48 drop backs at New Orleans. His ability to strike deep downfield in the face of pressure stands out. Manning is tied with Brady and one behind Rodgers with 15 TD passes against five or more pass-rushers, albeit on about 45-50 additional attempts.
Week 14 at DAL
Roethlisberger continued producing and made game-winning plays against Cleveland even after suffering an ankle injury that could sideline him in the future. Manning surged past Roethlisberger on the MVP Watch list and appears close to joining the well-established top tier featuring Rodgers, Brees and Brady. There can be no doubting Roethlisberger's value to the Steelers, however. That will be apparent if Roethlisberger cannot play against San Francisco on Monday night. If Roethlisberger does play, he should have opportunities for big pass plays against a 49ers defense that is stronger against the run.
Week 14 vs. CLE
Those were Colts in that barrel, not fish, but it was tough to tell the difference. Suggs collected three sacks in a game for the second time in three weeks. He also forced three fumbles. Suggs has seven of his 13 sacks over the past three weeks. He faces an intriguing matchup in Week 15 against former Ravens teammate Jared Gaither, now the Chargers' left tackle. Familiarity should help, but Gaither has played well lately. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has taken only two sacks in 63 drop backs over the past two games. Rivers has six TDs with no INTs during those games, both San Diego victories.
Week 14 vs. IND
7. ARIAN FOSTERRunning Back | Houston Texans ... Next Game: 12/18 vs. CAR ... Last Poll: 5
The Texans keep winning despite losing key players. Losing defensive coordinator Wade Phillips to medical concerns stands as the latest challenge. Foster wasn't very productive during the Texans' victory at Cincinnati. He faces Carolina and Indianapolis over the next two weeks, however. The Panthers have not given much ground against the run over the past couple weeks, but that should change against Foster. As for the future matchup against Indy? Foster did not play against the Colts in Week 1, but he rushed for 335 yards and four TDs in two games against them last season.
Week 14 at CIN
Some resisted when the thought of a tight end joining the MVP Watch list in the No. 10 spot last week. Six receptions for 160 yards and two TDs against the Redskins only strengthened his credentials. And with Welker dropping a pass for the first time all season, Gronkowski moved past his teammate. Gronkowski has 11 total TDs over his last six games. He is averaging 15.3 yards per reception for the season. His size (6-foot-6, 265) makes him a threat to trample defenders in the open field.
Week 14 at WAS
9. WES WELKERReceiver | New England Patriots ... Next Game: 12/18 at DEN ... Last Poll: 6
Down week for Welker, right? Not exactly. His production against the Redskins would translate to 112 receptions for 1,376 yards and 16 TDs over the course of a full season. No player in NFL history has hit those three figures in the same season, according to Pro Football Reference. Jerry Rice came close in 1995 when he finished with 122 catches for 1,848 yards and 15 TDs. As for Welker, yes, he finally dropped a pass. He's been much more sure-handed overall, however. His drops are down from 11 last season to just that one in 2011.
Week 14 at WAS
10. MATT RYANQuarterback | Atlanta Falcons ... Next Game: 12/15 vs. JAC ... Last Poll: NR
Ten spots might be too many for the MVP Watch list given the number of truly viable candidates this season. Ryan has not been particularly consistent. He played poorly against Houston, then bounced back with a four-TD game against the Panthers' shoddy defense. Ryan remains on pace for career highs in passing yards and TDs. His team has an 8-5 record and has a good shot at double-digit victories. Ryan has started every game despite suffering an ugly looking ankle injury against Detroit. If it sounds like I'm not entirely sold on Ryan making the list, it's because I'm not entirely sold on Ryan making the list.
Week 14 at CAR