There were some more amazing performances at the quarterback position, and I would like to first address two honorable mentions who very nearly made the cut in New England Patriots QB Tom Brady and Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton. Brady led a great comeback victory over the Cleveland Browns, and he deserves praise for throwing for over 400 yards and leading his team to a win in the midst of adversity. He benefited from an awful pass interference call, but he still deserves to be praised for his performance. Meanwhile, Dalton dismantled the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday in a 42-28 win, and one can only wonder what Dalton could do if he were more consistent.
New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees
Brees gets my vote for being the best quarterback of the week, and it was incredible watching him dissect the Carolina Panthers in a key 31-13 win over the Saints division rivals. The Saints are in control of the NFC South now, and both Brees and the Saints bounced back in a big way following their primetime loss to the Seattle Seahawks the previous week. Brees was in control with 30-42 passing for 313 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. That’s one of the most efficient ballgames you will ever see, and he and Marques Colston were connecting with ease. Brees made a normally solid Panthers defense look silly, and he was an obvious inclusion on this list.
Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning
51 points is nothing to sneeze at, especially when going up against a Tennessee Titans defense that has star cornerback duo Alterraun Verner and Jason McCourty. What made Manning’s life a lot easier- and this negated the Titans CBs, really- was his offensive line, which has been terrific all year. Tackle duo Chris Clark and Orlando Franklin were lights out, and you can’t afford to not put pressure on Manning. As we saw on Sunday, he’ll beat you all day if that happens. Big praise goes to the line, but the fact that the Titans managed just one QB hit and zero sacks is absolutely pathetic.
Manning attempted a mind-boggling 59 passes, completing 39 of them for 397 yards and four touchdowns despite playing in frigid temperatures. Great work, Manning, because you managed to completely destroy an unfounded narrative.
San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers
When I tweeted that Philip Rivers deserves to be the MVP this season, I was met with a few disgruntled tweets. One fan said, “lol unfollow” and another asked me if I was high. Just because Rivers plays for a bad team doesn’t mean that he isn’t a legitimate MVP candidate. The Chargers are “only” 6-7, but could you imagine how bad they would be without Rivers? He leads the league in completion percentage and, statistically, only Peyton Manning has been better this year. Rivers led the Chargers to an impressive blowout over the New York Giants, and he also led the team to an incredible win over the Kansas City Chiefs recently due to an impeccable game-winning pass right between two defenders.
Rivers has been sensational all season, and he’s overcome one of the league’s worst defense (the Chargers can’t cover or rush the passer, with the exception of Eric Weddle and the now-healthy Melvin Ingram respectively) to help this team turn things around. On Sunday, Rivers was an exceptional 21-28 for 249 yards, an amazing 8.9 yards per attempt, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. It was another incredible performance from him, and he continues to play hyper-accurate football behind center; please don’t underrate him, and please don’t dismiss him as an MVP candidate without first going over his resume. Manning will almost certainly win the award, but Rivers deserves plenty of consideration.
Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer
Despite suffering an elbow injury last week against the Philadelphia Eagles and being clearly hobbled by it for the rest of the game, Carson Palmer played on Sunday. Although he was never expected to miss the game against the rival St. Louis Rams, it was terrific to see that Palmer flat-out dominated the Rams despite the elbow injury and the fact that talented No. 2 wideout Michael Floyd was severely hobbled by an ankle injury. Palmer’s rise in play coincided with big numbers and play from Floyd, so it was impressive to see Palmer play a nearly flawless game despite an injury to Floyd.
The Rams secondary stinks, but that shouldn’t detract from Palmer’s performance. The veteran QB led his team to 30 points, and he only had five incomplete passes with a 27-32 line. Palmer was as efficient as ever, and incredible efficiency and a yards per attempt average of 8.4 are two sure ways to crack this list.
Chicago Bears QB Josh McCown
Journeyman backup Josh McCown has looked anything but a journeyman backup so far this season, and he’s played so well that Jay Cutler vs. Josh McCown is actually a legitimate question. Even though it came against a dysfunctional Dallas Cowboys defense that doesn’t know how to cover, McCown deserves the major plaudits he is receiving for leading his team to 45 points in front of a national audience on a freezing night in Chicago. McCown went 27-36 for 348 yards, which yields a terrific 9.7 yards per attempt. He also tossed four touchdowns, ran for one more, and had no interceptions. No quarterback put up better numbers this week than McCown, and he was just a monster last night.