Anyone who has crunched the numbers knows the AFC South division title is over. The Titans won. Tennessee can clinch the division by winning any two of its final five games. Trust me, I ran the tie-breaker scenarios and did the math.
So besides the wild-card positioning what is left to root for? I suggest rooting for Peyton Manning. He has a ridiculously good shot at his third MVP award. Here is my unbiased look at the front-runners. If you think you have a better candidate in mind, I'd be interested in hearing about it. Keep in mind that this award is nearly always won by a QB or RB.
1.) Kurt Warner, Arizona Cardinals
Stats: 21 TDs, 8 INTs, 3506 YDs, 102.4 Rating
Team Record: 7-4, 1st place NFC West
Last week: 1 TD, 1 INT, 1 Lost Fumble in a loss to NYG
Remaining Games: @Phi, STL, MIN, @Pats, SEA
Warner is still the odds on favorite, but he didn't help himself any with his second uneven performance in a row. The NFC West is horrible, but Warner will still get the credit for the Cardinals first division title since 1975. If no one emerges with a serious case Warner may be the default winner of this award.
2.) Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts
Stats: 19 TDs, 10 INTs, 2823 YDs, 87.2 Rating
Team Record: 7-4, 2nd place AFC South
Last week: 2 TD, 1 INT in a win at SD
Remaining Games: @Cle, CIN, DET, @Jax, TEN
Manning's stats are not eye-catching, but his growing list of clutch wins is very impressive. He certainly deserves to be in the conversation as long as the Colts continue their winning ways. If the race is tight Manning may have an advantage because of his consistently great play since his last MVP win in 2004.
3.) Brett Favre, New York Jets
Stats: 20 TDs, 13 INTs, 2461 YDs, 94.1 Rating
Team Record: 8-3, 1st place AFC East
Last week: 2 TD, 1 INT in a win at TEN.
Remaining Games: DEN, @SF, BUF, @Sea, MIA
As a wise man once said, "Brett Favre is Brett Favre." I could have easily put him in second place. He is leading arguably the best team in the AFC in the biggest media market in the world. The media wants to give him this award, but he'll probably need to win the East and finish with 30 TDs.
4.) Eli Manning, New York Giants
Stats: 18 TDs, 7 INTs, 2319 YDs, 91.6 Rating
Team Record: 10-1, 1st place NFC East
Last week: 3TD, 0 INT in a win at AZ
Remaining Games: @Was, PHI, @Dal, CAR, @Min
I know I recently said there was no way Eli would win the MVP, but 3 touchdowns against a decent Cardinals squad changed my mind. Is he important enough to his own team? I don't think so, but he is the leader of the best team in football. I don't ever remember an MVP race this balanced, so it wouldn't surprise me if the voters gave it to a member of the far and away best team.
5.) Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons
Stats: 1088 YDs, 13 TDs, 4.3 YPC
Team Record: 7-4, 3rd place NFC South
Last Week: 117 YDs, 4 TDs in a win over CAR
Remaining Games: @SD, @NO, TB, @Min, STL
Turner is a sleeper pick whose candidacy is dependent on his team finishing strong and winning the division. His quarterback, Matt Ryan, deserves a lot of credit, but he is a rookie and his numbers are pedestrian. Turner has been a revelation in Atlanta and could steal this award with a late season surge.
Others in the conversation: Drew Brees (needs wins), Randy Moss (needs stats and wins), Clinton Portis (needs wins), Adrian Peterson (needs wins), Brandon Jacobs (needs stats)