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Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Mike Sando's MVP Watch

By Mike Sando

Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan has thrown three touchdown passes in two of Atlanta's three games this season.
One quarterback stands tallest in production, results and overall value heading into Week 4.

He's our MVP Watch leader for the second week in a row.

Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons already own convincing victories over Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos (27-21) and Philip Rivers' San Diego Chargers (27-3). Games against Carolina and Washington over the next two weeks pit Ryan against two other high-profile quarterbacks in Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III, respectively.

Carson Palmer, Michael Vick, Tony Romo, Drew Brees (twice), Eli Manning and Matthew Stafford remain on the Falcons' schedule.

Matchups between teams featuring top quarterbacks aren't always main events, of course. The NFL has increasingly become a game of high-stakes power plays off the field: the lockout, the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal, concussion lawsuits and even officiating.

The ongoing power play between the NFL and its regular officials has vaulted longtime referee Ed Hochuli onto the MVP Watch list. Consider it a protest vote after replacement officials upstaged recent prime-time games featuring Tom Brady, Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers and the Seattle Seahawks' swarming defense. Hochuli is no longer president of the NFL Referees Association. Scott Green has that distinction at present. Few would recognize Green if we ran his mug shot, so Hochuli gets the call. He's one replacement fans wouldn't mind seeing again.