A song for the ineligibles:
It is abundantly clear at this point that the most valuable player in the NFL is Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay was 5-2 when he was healthy and is 0-3-1 since he got hurt. As insane as it might seem to think one mustachioed insurance spokesperson can make such a difference, it turns out that Rodgers is the Packers. With him, they're a Super Bowl contender. Without him, they're the Jaguars.
Also clearly valuable are Kansas City linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, each of whom (like Rodgers) has spent time on this list this week, for contributions to the Chiefs' smothering defense in their case. Each had to leave Sunday's game because of injury, and, without them, the Chiefs couldn't stop Danny Woodhead. Or even hope to contain him. (Is that trademarked? And if so, is it ours? So many questions ...)
But you won't find Rodgers or Hali or Houston on the MVP Watch because you get on this list for what you actually do, not for what you theoretically would be doing if you were on the field. The Watch feels compelled to make this point on a week that sees no movement in the top five and in which candidates are hard to come by. Only five (five!!!) teams in the entire AFC are .500 or better right now. (Five!!!) And you all know the Watch's rule that prohibits players on teams with losing records from making the list.
This rule is killing Philip Rivers, who's been statistically the second-best quarterback in the league all year, but the rules are neither flexible nor arbitrary. Those who are tardy do not get fruit cup, and players on teams with losing records don't win the award. If Rivers wins next week, he'll be back in a prominent spot. Until then, he'll have to be content with this honorable mention.
As for those who actually are on the list… Well, there was no change in the No. 1 spot, but this was the first time all year that the Watch actually stopped to think about it.