Mike Sando's MVP Watch

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Listing Kyle Orton as a potential MVP candidate once would have seemed about as plausible as the Broncos opening 5-0 with victories over the Cowboys and Patriots.

Orton makes his MVP Watch debut -- at the expense of Tom Brady, no less -- because we're far enough into the season for results to matter more than reputations.

The Bears castoff has seven touchdown passes, one interception and that 5-0 starting record. His predecessor, fellow MVP Watch member Jay Cutler, was 17-20 as the Broncos' starter, never winning more than half of his starts in a season. Orton has now won 26 of 38 regular-season starts for a career winning percentage (.684) exceeding not only Cutler's but also John Elway's (.644).

To make Orton comfortable, MVP Watch welcomes fellow 2005 Bears draft class alum Cedric Benson, the NFL's leading rusher for a 4-1 team, to the list. There wasn't room for Mark Bradley, chosen by the Bears between selections of Orton and Benson, although the Kansas City receiver does have as many touchdown receptions as Randy Moss this season.

Manning has earned a week off and he'll get one with the Colts' bye week, followed by a date with the Rams.

Passer rating jumps from 101.7 against standard pressure to 109.8 against added pressure. Blitz at your peril.

Only his brother is averaging more yards per attempt (9.1 to 9.0) this season and Eli is gaining.

Can move into the second spot on this list with a victory over the Giants in Week 6.

It's a good thing he's playing well; otherwise he'd be hearing about Kyle Orton and the Broncos.

Apologies to "Big Ben" for leaving him off the list last week. He leads the league in completion percentage.

Ranks eighth in passing yards, but no stat can approach that 5-0 record. Now 26-12 as an NFL starter.

One of eight NFL quarterbacks with a passer rating in triple digits this season.

The Bengals needed representation here. Benson leads the league in rushing yards.

Six yards behind Benson and due to take over a game while focus is on Favre.