MVP Watch: Eli trails only big brother

Mike Sando's MVP watch is up, and New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning ranks second on this week's list, behind only his big brother, Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos. Mike's list also includes Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, who is No. 7 and the only player in Mike's top 10 whose team currently has a losing record.

People have asked me a lot whether Griffin could be an MVP candidate in addition to rookie of the year, and the answer I consistently give is that it's nearly impossible for a player to win the award if his team doesn't make the playoffs. That makes his placement on this list, which Mike I believe intends as a predictor of players' real-life chances to win the award, truly remarkable. Griffin has indeed played that well.

As for the order of the Mannings at the top of the poll, I think you could go either way. I think Eli has been the most valuable player to his team in the entire league since the start of the 2011 season, but after last week surely Peyton makes a strong case as the most valuable so far this year. The difference, though, to me, is that little brother is 5-2 while big brother is 3-3. And if Eli's team made the playoffs and Peyton's did not, it's hard to imagine Peyton winning the award over Eli.

Here's what Mike says about Peyton, though:

The Broncos have played the NFL's toughest schedule to this point (.632). They have the easiest schedule from this point forward (.333). That would seem to give Manning a good shot at becoming MVP and top comeback player.

Add in the fact of Peyton's very weak division, and you can see the logic behind rating his MVP chances higher than those of his brother at this point, in spite of the difference in the records.

Regardless, Eli finds himself in (and ahead of) some very heady company here.