Mike Sando's MVP Watch
They have what stands as the easiest remaining schedule by the same measure (.339).
Manning's MVP credentials should only improve, as the Broncos, blessed with a Week 7 bye to tune up their passing game, better their 3-3 record as the season plays out. Those MVP credentials aren't exactly hurting at present, either. The comeback Manning led from a 24-0 deficit to beat San Diego on Monday night had a defining feel to it. Denver looks like the AFC West favorite. Manning has moved atop our MVP Watch list.
"In a stunning 30-minute whirlwind, Manning (who thrust himself into the MVP race Monday night) and his improving Broncos scored 35 unanswered points to shock San Diego," Bill Williamson wrote.
Manning has a league-high 984 yards over his past three games. He has nine touchdowns with one interception over that span. He's looking more like a four-time MVP than an aging player trying to regain past form following career-threatening neck surgeries.
Coming back from a 24-0 halftime deficit to beat San Diego added to Manning's legend. Manning completed all four passes traveling more than 20 yards past the line of scrimmage. Those passes covered 130 yards and scored two TDs. Manning's four TD passes on 20-plus throws ranks tied for second in the NFL behind Seattle Seahawks rookie Russell Wilson (five). Manning has completed 11 of his last 17 attempts on these throws after failing to complete his first five of the season (opponents picked off three of those five). Manning leads the NFL in Total QBR (79.4). He ranks second in NFL passer rating (105.0).
Week 6 at SD
2. ELI MANNINGQuarterback | New York Giants ... Next Game: 10/21 vs. WAS ... Last Poll: 5
Offensive lines sometimes get too much credit or blame for how many times their quarterbacks take sacks. The quarterbacks themselves are a big part of the equation. Manning has taken only four sacks this season, including zero against San Francisco's ferocious defense. For the season, he ranks third behind his brother and Tom Brady in Total QBR. They are the only three qualifying quarterbacks with scores higher than 75 out of 100. Third down would be one area for improvement. Manning has three TDs, three INTs and a 49.1 percent completion rate on those plays.
Week 6 at SF
3. MATT RYANQuarterback | Atlanta Falcons ... Next Game: 10/28 at PHI ... Last Poll: 1
Another week, another victory for Ryan and the Falcons. They're 6-0 for the first time in team history. They're the last unbeaten team in the league. Ryan dropped from first to third on the MVP Watch list after tossing three INTs and leading an offense that gained only 286 yards during a 23-20 victory over Oakland. Ryan did complete 5 of 6 passes for 43 yards in moving the Falcons into range for the winning 55-yard field goal in the final seconds.
Week 6 vs. OAK
There's nothing quite like a six-TD performance against one of the NFL's best defenses to remind the masses just how dominant Rodgers can be. Rodgers threw two scoring passes on short throws, two on intermediate throws and two on deep balls. He even scrambled twice for 17 yards and two first downs. The deeper passes -- those traveling more than 20 yards past the line of scrimmage, by this measure -- are the ones to watch. Rogers had completed two of them for TDs in the first five weeks of the season. Now he's got four. Rodgers threw 11 scoring passes on 21-plus throws last season (three in the first five weeks, two in Week 6 and six the rest of the way). Rodgers leads the NFL in passer rating (105.4).
Week 6 at HOU
5. TOM BRADYQuarterback | New England Patriots ... Next Game: 10/21 vs. NYJ ... Last Poll: 2
Even Richard Sherman would have to admit Brady still belongs on the MVP Watch list despite a rough game against the Seahawks. Brady tossed more interceptions against Seattle (two) than he had all season previously (one, against Arizona). Patrick Peterson, Earl Thomas and Sherman are the only players to pick off Brady on 257 drop backs this season. Brady ranks second to Peyton Manning in Total QBR (76.4). He leads the league in passing yardage (1,845) and is on pace for 4,920 yards for the season. That would be his second-highest total for a season.
Week 6 at SEA
6. PERCY HARVINReceiver | Minnesota Vikings ... Next Game: 10/21 vs. ARI ... Last Poll: 7
Harvin defies the usual positional descriptions. He's a wide receiver, yes, but he plays like a running back as well. The Vikings generally throw shorter passes to him, allowing Harvin to do the rest. That explains why Harvin's average target depth stands at only 4.1 yards, well below the 9.2 average for players with at least 10 receptions this season. Harvin leads the NFL in receptions and has a 409-295 lead over Wes Welker for most yards after the catch. He has 15 rushes for 63 yards (4.2 per carry) and a 37.1-yard average on kickoff returns. Harvin has only three total TDs, but he has scored them in three ways: receiving, rushing and in the return game.
Week 6 at WAS
7. A.J. GREENReceiver | Cincinnati Bengals ... Next Game: 10/21 vs. PIT ... Last Poll: NR
Green leads all NFL wide receivers with 628 yards. His six TDs rank tied for second. Green ranks tied for the lead in targets and tied for third in receptions. Green's average target depth (13.9) leads the 20 players with at least 30 receptions to this point in the season. None of the four players with as many or more receptions averages more than 9.7 yards for target depth. Green and Carolina's Steve Smith rank tied for second behind Brian Hartline with five receptions of at least 30 yards. Green has only two receptions on eight third-down targets, but with a 22.1-yard average target depth on these throws, it's clear the Bengals aren't relying on him to move the chains in those situations.
Week 6 at CLE
Griffin rejoins the list after completing 77.3 percent of his 22 pass attempts and rushing for 138 yards on 13 attempts during a 38-26 victory over the previously 4-1 Vikings. Griffin scored three TDs, one passing and two rushing. He took only one sack. The 97.6 Total QBR score Griffin posted against Minnesota was the third-highest by a rookie since 2008. Matt Ryan accounted for the other two.
Week 6 vs. MIN
9. J.J. WATTDefensive End | Houston Texans ... Next Game: 10/21 vs. BAL ... Last Poll: 8
The NFL lists Watt with 9.5 sacks and eight passes defensed through six games. That puts Watt on pace for 25 sacks over a 16-game season. Players have reached 20 sacks in a season eight times since sacks became an NFL stat in 1982. Michael Strahan set the record with 22.5 in 2001. Jared Allen had 22 last season, matching Mark Gastineau (1984) for second most in a season. Chris Doleman (1989) and Reggie White (1987) each had 21 in a season, a half-sack more than Lawrence Taylor had in 1986. Derrick Thomas (1990) and DeMarcus Ware (2008) each had a 20-sack season. White had his 21 sacks over 12 games in the strike-shortened 1987 season. That works out to 1.75 sacks per game. Watt is on a 1.58-per-game pace.
Week 6 vs. GB
10. MARSHAWN LYNCHRunning Back | Seattle Seahawks ... Next Game: 10/18 at SF ... Last Poll: 9
Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson broke out with a three-TD game against New England. Lynch had something to do with that, of course. Defenses must account for Seattle's running game, opening up opportunities down the field. Lynch ranks third in rushing yards (549) and second to Adrian Peterson (253-250) in yards after contact. The Seahawks figure to need more from Lynch against San Francisco's defense in Week 7. Lynch topped 100 yards against the 49ers in Week 16 last season, ending San Francisco's streaks for games without allowing a 100-yard rusher (36) and games without allowing a rushing TD (15).
Week 6 vs. NE