Matt Ryan for MVP?

Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan is not going to be the NFL’s Most Valuable Player, but he at least is in the conversation.

Well, sort of. Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers almost certainly will win the award, and you could at least make a strong case for New Orleans’ Drew Brees as the alternative choice. Beyond that, there aren’t any other realistic candidates.

But colleague Mike Sando does a weekly MVP Watch and he has Ryan at No. 5 this week, behind Rodgers, Brees, Tom Brady and Calvin Johnson. Each week, Sando sends out a note to all the division bloggers and asks us for input on players that may be worthy of being on his 10-man list.

For most of the season, my response has been something like, “I’ve got Brees and you know all about him. Beyond that, I’ve got nothing much to offer."

But that started to change last week, as Ryan was coming off a four-touchdown game against Carolina. I mentioned him to Sando and Ryan went out last Thursday night and added three touchdowns in an easy victory against Jacksonville.

When Sando’s weekly email came Tuesday night, he mentioned that several guys were falling off his list. I went to bat for Ryan, based on the fact he’s been much more consistent and effective recently and he also has a very good chance to finish with career highs in touchdown passes and passing yards.

Sando worked him in at No. 5, which I don’t think is out of line at the moment. But I liked the way Sando phrased his synopsis on Ryan’s candidacy. Essentially, Sando said a victory by Ryan and the Falcons against the Saints on Monday night, could move Ryan even higher up the list. But he also added a loss could move Ryan down the list -- or off it.

I’d say that’s fair.

By the way, when I emailed Sando on Tuesday night, I gave him a wild card besides Brees and Ryan. I suggested he take a look at Darren Sproles’ full body of work -- as a runner, receiver and return man -- and the overall impact he’s had on the Saints.

Sando listened and was intrigued, but couldn’t quite bring himself to put Sproles on the list. He said he’d keep Sproles in mind for next week. Just like Ryan, whatever happens Monday night could have a big impact on if Sproles is on the list next week.