- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
That didn't take long.
Peyton Manning needed only three games to establish his 2009 credentials as the early MVP favorite. He threw six touchdown passes with only one interception during two prime-time road victories against two 2008 playoff teams, all in a six-day period.
The stats should keep piling up in Week 4 when the Seahawks' injury-depleted secondary visits Indianapolis. After feasting on Cardinals cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Manning takes aim against a Seattle secondary without top cornerback Marcus Trufant or third cornerback Josh Wilson. Starting corner Ken Lucas has been hurting. It's tough to imagine anything less than another stellar game from Manning.
Quarterbacks and running backs tend to win the MVP award, but I couldn't let the week pass without acknowledging Broncos pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil. Six sacks in three games -- all victories -- should count for something. I considered adding receiver Reggie Wayne to the MVP Watch, but anyone on the Colts other than Manning isn't going to have much chance.
I also question whether Brett Favre can continue his ironman streak through a full season. The punishment he took against the 49ers would have knocked out most quarterbacks, in my view. Favre is on pace to set a career-high for sacks with 48, more than his combined total for the previous two seasons.
Three-time MVP is averaging 10.2 yards per pass attempt, or about 2.5 more than his career average and 1.5 more than anyone else in the league. And he has only two interceptions. No player in the league is more valuable to his team.
The individual stats weren't there in Week 3, but Brees was still good enough to win for the third time in as many games. Brees has two more touchdown passes (nine) than any other quarterback.
His completion percentage is up and his interceptions are down. The trend should continue as an easy schedule gets easier with games against the Chiefs and Raiders next.
Talents were on display against the 49ers even though his stats were just so-so. Stud 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis held on tight during one run, but he couldn't bring down Peterson.
No quarterback in the league has thrown for more first downs this season. Few quarterbacks could throw so frequently -- 34.7 attempts per game so far -- and remain unbeaten.
The NFL's most prolific passer from a yardage standpoint is going to need more touchdowns to move up this list. Seventeen quarterbacks have thrown more than Rivers' three.
The big plays haven't been there so far. Ryan's longest completion through three games covered 27 yards.
Some scoffed when I included Favre on the list a week ago. Favre appeared pretty valuable when he completed the winning 32-yard touchdown pass with 2 seconds left.
The Patriots' passing game is not yet up to speed. Brady sounds confident the offense will improve, and it should.
No defensive player has won the award since L.T. in the 1980s. For the record, though, Dumervil is on pace to finish with 32 sacks for a 16-0 team. Not going to happen, but still ...