Mailbag: MVP Watch, power rankings fallout

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

James from New Orleans writes: So, you have Peyton Manning over Drew Brees right now for MVP. I just wanted to point out a few things. The defenses Manning has faced have given up an average of 257.5 passing yards per game (the three worst pass defenses in the league). These defenses are allowing an average passer rating of 97.5. The defenses Brees has faced have given up an average of 189.3 passing yards per game (four of the top eight pass defenses in the league). These defenses are allowing an average passer rating of 76.1.

Now, if you look strictly at the numbers of Brees and Manning, Drew has a higher passer rating, more TDs, and fewer INTs. Peyton has more yards, and three more nationally televised games thus far. And I think more people would take Reggie Wayne over the Marques Colston, and more people would prefer Dallas Clark to Jeremy Shockey. Peyton stole an MVP award away from Brees last year because the Saints didn't make the playoffs. If both make it this year, he better not steal another one.

Mike Sando: There can be no good case against Manning or Brees. You make a great case for Brees and I take it to heart.

Don't sell the Saints' receivers short, though. I watched every snap of Giants-Saints and those New Orleans receivers were catching everything. Brees was threading the ball through impossibly small windows and receivers were making the grabs, even on a tipped ball in one case.

The Saints look really, really good on both sides of the ball. Brees is in total command. His pass protection is good, too.

I thought Manning's performance in leading the Colts to victory over the Dolphins against seemingly impossible odds qualified as a unique performance in the NFL this season, but I also had Brees atop the MVP Watch for a couple of weeks. Both are special players and I'm open to moving Brees back up there.

Nick from Racine, Wis., writes: Can you please explain to me how you have Jay Cutler at No. 9 over Aaron Rodgers? Rodgers has better numbers in every category while playing without an offensive line, and the teams have the same record with the Packers beating the Bears head to head. I could understand Matt Schaub being higher than Rodgers on your list, but Cutler? Just no.

Mike Sando: I have a feeling we'll see Rodgers back on the MVP Watch list soon. He's terrific and I respect his game. Cutler has the victory over Pittsburgh on his resume and his team is 3-1 in its last four. Rodgers is 2-2 over his last four with victories over the Rams and Lions.

Chris from Newport, R.I., writes: Ben Roethlisberger drops to No. 7? Are you watching him at all -- especially this year? Besides the errant pass, the man is incredible. You don't believe it? Maybe you should look at his numbers -- even for his career, not this year only. Or just keep him at your spot in this ridiculous Top 10, and I'll watch him compile wins for the next decade. Realize you're watching greatness.

Mike Sando: There's no shame in ranking seventh on this list.

Kevin from Pittsburgh writes: Mike, I can understand Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, but how on earth do you have Big Ben so far down on your list? If you look at total body of work as an MVP for a team, he should be at the top of the list. If you look at the numbers, he is one or two higher than Tom Brady at four. Sorry to say it, Brett Farve isn't even the MVP on his own team. It is still the Beast, Adrian Peterson. Would like to know what you base your decisions on?

Mike Sando: I might like to see a little better touchdown-to-interception ratio, but that could be picking nits. There are probably 12 to 14 players I'd like to include among the 10 each week. You can bet Roethlisberger will charge up the list once he leads the Steelers over the Vikings, Broncos and Bengals in Pittsburgh's next three games. That will be more impressive than beating the Lions and Browns.

Kyle from Omaha writes: Why isn't Aaron Rodgers being even mentioned? His stats are comparable to every other quaterback on the list. Also, the Packers are 3-2 and according to you, a winning record means a lot.

Mike Sando: That was an oversight on my part. I should have mentioned Rodgers along with Schaub and Joe Flacco as guys deserving honorable mention. I could make a case for all three to be on the list, but the limit is 10 and someone has to be the odd man out.

Patrick from Pass Christian, Miss., writes: Why don't you have the Saints as the No. 1 team in the NFL?

Mike Sando: If they keep playing like this, I might have no choice. That was a very impressive performance against the Giants. The Saints have a tougher schedule than the Colts over the next couple of games. That could help them move past Indy, assuming the Saints keep winning. I was close to making the change this week.

Shane from Dayton, Ohio, writes: I don't understand your logic on the MVP? How does Brady having one good game against a crappy 0-5 team land him No. 4 in MVP talk? It takes more than one game. I say his defense did just as much. Matt Ryan is having a much better year as well. A bit one sided as usual in your post!!

Mike Sando: Brady didn't even play that great in Week 3 and his team still beat Matt Ryan's team by 16 points. Brady threw the only touchdown pass in that game. I like Ryan, too. We'll find out whether Brady's showing suggests he's hitting stride. The snowy weather did make Brady's performance tougher to grade.

Matt from Athens, Texas, writes: How can you rate the Cowboys 20 from 17 when they didn't even play? The Cowboys have only lost to Denver and the Giants, who both have top-notch records. You can say what you want about the teams they've beaten, but they almost beat the teams they lost to. I think after a few more weeks, you will have to get away from your bias and admit they're better than you thought. We'll see. If I am right, I expect a retraction.

Mike Sando: It's easy for a team to rise or fall without playing. That sort of thing happens all the time with statistical rankings. The other teams' performances change relative to the idle team's static rankings. I think the Cowboys are a decent team. They could be anywhere from, say, 15 to 20 and I wouldn't have a problem with it.