Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Mike Sando's MVP Watch
By Mike Sando ESPN.com
Brett Favre assumes the top spot on the MVP Watch list after turning a good team into a championship-caliber one.
The Vikings are 9-1 and gaining momentum.
Brett Favre has thrown just three interceptions in 310 pass attempts this season.
Favre has matched Peyton Manning with 21 touchdown passes, one off Drew Brees' league-leading total. Favre has six fewer interceptions than Manning or Brees while joining them among an elite list of quarterbacks averaging at least 8 yards per pass attempt.
Favre's ascension into the top spot after Week 11 sent me back through comments from the Sept. 23 edition -- the first one featuring Favre in any capacity (he was then eighth).
"Are you kidding me, take Favre off the list!" vman112012 wrote. "What has he done so far to warrant any mentioning? Adrian Peterson is the one carrying that offense."
The point had some merit and vman112012 was not alone.
"This love affair with Favre is absolutely out of control," Sphinn wrote. "Hey ESPN, the '90s have been over for almost a decade!"
Right. As if I automatically fell in love with Favre upon joining ESPN a couple of years ago. Hey, I was the guy who thought the Vikings were selling their souls for a washed-up quarterback. Favre, after all, had thrown more touchdowns than interceptions just once in his four most recent seasons.
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Another big game on the ground from Chris Johnson helped the Titans to another win, but is even a guy averaging better than 6 yards per carry in danger of being lapped by Brett Favre?
"Right now, I would have to give it to Brett Favre just because the Minnesota Vikings were not a clear-cut contender for the Super Bowl last year," Atogwe said. "They are now, and I think that largely has to do with the arrival of Brett Favre and him really being able to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers. He is also doing a great job taking care of the football."
Three-time MVP winner is on pace for 33 touchdowns and not quite five interceptions, all while averaging a career-best 8.0 yards per pass attempt. Tom Brady averaged 8.3 per attempt during his magical 2007 season. Favre leads the NFL in passer rating for a 9-1 team that is improving. The discipline he is showing in avoiding turnovers shows what he can do when backed by a strong running game.
Almost always a worthy MVP choice, Manning has tossed more touchdowns than interceptions just once in his last four games, unusual for him. The two picks he threw in Week 11 gave him more interceptions than touchdown passes in a game for the first time this season. That the Colts are 10-0 anyway stands as a tribute to him, and them. But Favre is producing at a higher level right now.
The overall numbers and 10-0 record make him an obvious MVP contender. I was surprised upon looking at his stats to discover that Brees has thrown more touchdown passes than interceptions just five times in 10 games and three times in his last eight. Beating the Patriots in Week 12 would certainly enhance his credentials. He does not play any cold-weather games over the season's final month. That should help.
The three-time Super Bowl winner has passed for at least 308 yards in each of his last five games, winning four of them and barely losing the other thanks to a certain fourth-and-2 failure. Brady has 20 touchdown passes, two off the league lead, and his passer rating would be the second-highest of his career, no small feat. Brady has eight touchdowns with one interception in the second halves of games this season. He has yet to throw an interception in the fourth quarter.
The NFL's most dangerous running back this season has averaged 161.5 yards rushing during the Titans' ongoing four-game winning streak. He has 774 yards rushing over the last five games, an incredible pace that shows few signs of waning. Any conversation about the best running back in the league now must include Johnson.
The Chargers' five-game winning streak demands recognition for one of the game's best leaders. Rivers has 14 touchdown passes and three interceptions in his last seven games. His completion percentage has hovered around 80 percent over the past two weeks. In Week 12, Rivers played efficiently while avenging the Chargers' loss to the Broncos, a critical victory for San Diego.
The three-time Super Bowl starter has posted a passer rating in triple digits for three consecutive games, the first time he has accomplished the feat since 2001. Warner's teams are 42-3 when his passer rating is 100.0 or better. He set the NFL single-game record for completion percentage (min. 15 attempts) earlier in the season. The Cardinals have been outscored 24-0 this season when Warner has come out of games.
The two-time Super Bowl winner must shake his recent concussion and help the Steelers get back on track to stay in the MVP race. His 398 yards against the Chiefs in Week 11 marked the third-highest total for his career and the second-highest total this season (he had 417 yards against the Browns in Week 6).
What's this about Chris Johnson possibly being the best running back in the NFL? Peterson has held that unofficial title for a while and it's not like he's dropping off. Peterson needs a single yard to reach 1,000 yards for the third season in a row. He ranks second in the NFL with 11 rushing touchdowns. Favre's emergence has taken pressure off Peterson, and vice versa. But Peterson remains plenty valuable no matter who is playing quarterback for the Vikings.
Back-to-back victories have revived the Packers and Rodgers' on-again, off-again candidacy. Only three quarterbacks have higher passer ratings. Rodgers is putting up elite numbers despite horrible pass protection. The Packers might be a lost cause without a quarterback as resilient.