Mike Sando's MVP Watch

The MVP Watch practically wrote itself at this point last season.

Denver, Indianapolis, Minnesota, New Orleans and the New York Giants were undefeated. Singling out stars from those teams filled out six of the 10 spots.

The task entering Week 6 this season required a little more creative writing, a few grains of salt and some blind faith. There isn't an unbeaten team in the league and some of the candidates at this point last season -- Brett Favre and Eli Manning come to mind -- aren't in the conversation.

Ben Roethlisberger? Well, um, not quite yet.

The Pittsburgh Steelers' no-longer-suspended quarterback set a career high with 4,328 yards passing last season, averaging 288.5 yards per game. That projects to 3,462 yards over 12 possible regular-season games this season. That would not rank among the league leaders, of course, but winning raises any quarterback's MVP profile and Roethlisberger figures to do plenty of that. He inherits a 3-1 team that has won with Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch under center. Roethlisberger could be rusty, but he will be rested and so will his team following a well-placed bye week.

Roethlisberger isn't cracking the MVP Watch list this week, but a strong showing against Cleveland could earn him a spot -- particularly if the league remains without more obvious candidates.