Falcons' Matt Ryan leads early contenders for MVP


It's ridiculously early to start thinking about the MVP award, but that's not going to stop us from trying. Each Wednesday, we'll take a look at the leading contenders for the year-end award.

Through three weeks, here's how our ballot would look:

1. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

He leads the league in quarterback rating. He's thrown eight touchdowns with one interception on a three win team. It's early, but Ryan sure looks like he's making The Leap.

2. J.J. Watt, Houston Texans

Defensive players never get MVP votes. We don't care. Through three weeks, Watt has been just as dominant as any quarterback from a position that usually doesn't get stats.

3. Eli Manning, New York Giants

Big drop to No. 3, but Eli played the last six quarters about as well as any quarterback can play. Six quarters is half the season at this point.

4. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

He lit up the Bengals and led an impressive comeback against an improved Patriots defense. Flacco is averaging over 300 yards-per-game without giving up any efficiency. He's fifth in yards-per-attempt on the season.

5. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

I don't care that the Steelers are 1-2. Watch Big Ben play. Like Tony Romo, he's carrying an awful offensive line.

6. Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers

He's done everything in his power to turn the Packers defensive fortunes around.

7. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans

I've watched every Texans game. The Texans don't always ask Schaub to do a lot, but he's essentially been flawless this year.

8. Tim Jennings, Chicago Bears

ProFootball Focus notes that quarterbacks throwing at Jennings have a 4.9 QB rating. That's QB rating, not yards-per-attempt. He has four picks, four passes defensed, and has only allowed a third of passes sent his way to be completed. That's silly.

9-10. C.J. Spiller and Reggie Bush, Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins

Both players will fall off this list because of injuries, but they have carried their respective offenses.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.