Mike Sando's MVP Watch

Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos enter their bye week in first place in the AFC West. Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos have played the fifth-toughest schedule in the NFL to this point, defined by opponents' won-lost percentage (.588).

They have what stands as the easiest remaining schedule by the same measure (.339).

Manning's MVP credentials should only improve, as the Broncos, blessed with a Week 7 bye to tune up their passing game, better their 3-3 record as the season plays out. Those MVP credentials aren't exactly hurting at present, either. The comeback Manning led from a 24-0 deficit to beat San Diego on Monday night had a defining feel to it. Denver looks like the AFC West favorite. Manning has moved atop our MVP Watch list.

"In a stunning 30-minute whirlwind, Manning (who thrust himself into the MVP race Monday night) and his improving Broncos scored 35 unanswered points to shock San Diego," Bill Williamson wrote.

Manning has a league-high 984 yards over his past three games. He has nine touchdowns with one interception over that span. He's looking more like a four-time MVP than an aging player trying to regain past form following career-threatening neck surgeries.