Houston cracks this week's MVP watch

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- With 4.5 sacks last week in Philadelphia, outside linebacker Justin Houston vaulted into the NFL lead with 7.5. He also vaulted into eighth place in this week's ESPN's MVP Watch.

ESPN's Dan Graziano, who puts together the list, had to find a place in his top 10 for Houston. He terrorized Philadelphia rookie offensive tackle Lane Johnson for three of his sacks and indeed made them appear simple. Houston is the only defensive player and only non-quarterback in Graziano's top 10.

Dontari Poe was in the top 10 last week but dropped out this week.

Houston was also named as AFC defensive player of the week for the second time this season. He had three sacks in the season's first game at Jacksonville.

That day, Houston victimized another rookie, the Jaguars' Luke Joeckel. He will face yet another rookie tackle this week in Justin Pugh of the New York Giants.

It's difficult for a defensive player to remain a factor in the MVP race over the long haul. If Houston is going to stay in the race, he will have to handle the adjustments that opponents will no doubt make. Houston, who had 10 sacks and made the Pro Bowl last season, was hardly a secret.

Word is definitely out now.

"The better you do, the (more opposing) teams know who you are,'' Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "It's not secret. You're going to get everyone's A game.''