Early three-man race for NFL's MVP honours

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers looks down field for a receiver during second half NFL against the Vikings...

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers looks down field for a receiver during second half NFL against the Vikings in Minneapolis on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011. (REUTERS/Eric Miller)

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:41 PM ET

TORONTO - Through only seven weeks and already it appears the National Football League MVP battle is down to a three-man race.

Aaron Rodgers may be the darling of the NFL right now, but Drew Brees isn’t exactly yesterday’s news. And Tom Brady isn’t beyond leap-frogging both for his second consecutive AP NFL MVP award and third in the past five years.

Really, all that is missing is Peyton Manning.

At the moment the award would undoubtedly go to Rodgers, who has his team off to a flawless 7-0 start and has the kind of quarterback rating for the season (125.7) most quarterbacks would gladly take every fourth or fifth week.

Watching Brees dismantle the Colts with such ease though reminded one and all how far from over this competition really is.

Brees was almost perfect on the night completing 31 of 35 passes for 325 yards and five passing touchdowns.

His passer efficiency rating of 144.9 actually didn’t do his night justice. Brees was on fire and has been for the bulk of the season.

Rodgers has thrown for more TDs (20) and fewer picks (3) than Brees (who has 18 and 8 respectively) but Brees is generating more scoring, averaging 34.1 points per game for his team to Rodgers’ 32.9.

Brady is no slouch either but having just won the award, the voters at AP, given the chance, will likely look elsewhere. Neither Rodgers nor Brees has won the award.

At this point in the year there is no running back worthy of the award and history suggests not even a monster season like the one Calvin Johnson is having in Detroit should have much of an impact on the voting.

A wide receiver has never won the award since its inception in 1957.

Quarterbacks have won the award 36 times, running backs 17 times and a linebacker (Lawrence Taylor 1986), a defensive tackle (Alan Page, 1971) and a kicker (Mark Mosley, 1982) have won it.

Twice the award was shared.

The difference this year is Rodgers has not even had what you could consider one mediocre game to date. All have been very good to great.

Brees stumbled last week against Tampa Bay and Brady’s performance against Dallas was just so-so.

But no one yet, not even Brady’s 500-yard passing game against the Dolphins in Week 1 has been as statistically near perfection as Brees’ was on Sunday night.

Brady though will have a good shot at it in Week 13 when his Patriots play those same Colts.

DEFENDING DONOVAN

Donovan McNabb may no longer be the starter in Minnesota, but Leslie Frazier will not have his veteran quarterback’s work ethic challenged the way it was on the weekend by NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi.

“Ridiculous,” Frazier said according to the Minnesota Pioneer Press. “Flat-out ridiculous. I don’t know where that would come from. I mean, this guy worked his tail off when he was the starting quarterback, staying after practice, throwing balls with receivers. When I heard about that: ‘Wow, where would that come from?’”

Lombardi said people in the organization told him McNabb was the last one in the building, the first one out. He was late for practice, late for meetings.

Either Lombardi is talking to someone intent on smearing McNabb or Frazier is protecting his former starter.

TOUGH WEEK FOR INJURIES

In a tough week for injuries, the Washington Redskins, who grace the Rogers Centre this weekend along with the Buffalo Bills were the most seriously affected.

Running back Tim Hightower is done for the season with a torn ACL. Wide receiver Santana Moss is also gone 5-7 weeks with a broken hand.

The Bills, on the other hand, are coming off a bye week and only got healthier.

Other injuries of note include a torn Achilles’ tendon suffered by Tampa’s Earnest Graham that ends his season. An ankle sprain by Detroit quarterback Matt Stafford that is “no more than day-to-day” according to head coach Jim Schwartz.

There was no rush to diagnose Matt Ryan’s apparent leg injury with the Atlanta Falcons enjoying the bye week. Ryan had one of those Joe Theismann-esque moments Sunday in Atlanta when his leg bent a way the human leg is just not supposed to bend. Somehow Ryan returned and led the Falcons on a scoring drive that would provide the winning points, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some lasting fallout from the injury.

Expect some sort of definitive word by mid-week.

Running backs Willis McGahee (Denver), Mark Ingram (New Orleans) and Beanie Wells (Arizona) all suffered minor injuries but all are considered short-term.

FOURTH AND GOAL

Here’s a stat your week would not be complete without courtesy of Bill Barnwell at Grantland. According to Barnwell the St. Louis Rams have not held a lead in a game this season since the 5:47 mark of the first quarter in a Week 2 loss to the New York Giants ... This was an ominous sounding tweet from Colts owner Jim Irsay who suggested “solutions in progress but complex in nature/better days will rise again” following the Saints pasting. That could mean anything from player changes to a coaching change to changes at the management level ... Even with an 0-6 record and a loss to equally woeful Denver at home this past weekend, Tony Sparano’s job seems safe for another week. According to the team website, team owner Stephen Ross is in Seattle on unrelated business while Sparano and his staff are preparing the Dolphins for a Week 8 tilt.


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