Mike Sando's MVP Watch

Matt Ryan has charged up the MVP Watch list after two sensational performances helped his Atlanta Falcons clinch home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs.

Ryan's seven touchdown passes against the New York Giants and Detroit Lions earned him a meaningless game in Week 17. That should enhance Ryan's MVP credentials, but with nothing on the line, the Falcons could wind up resting starters to some extent. It's tougher maintaining momentum when the parachute has already been deployed.

Ryan is the only member of our MVP Watch with a meaningless game on the schedule. His Falcons face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have allowed 29 touchdown passes, second only to New Orleans (31) this season. Ryan completed a season-high 81.3 percent of his passes for 353 yards and a touchdown against Tampa Bay in Week 12.

Ryan's development has allowed the Falcons to flourish as more of a pass-oriented team. Their identity has changed. This is now Ryan's team, not a team that tries to grind it out on the ground. Ryan has 4,481 yards passing and 31 touchdowns. He ranks third behind Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in Total QBR. He's one of five qualifying quarterbacks with a passer rating in triple digits.

Why not Ryan for MVP? Pat Yasinskas answered that question on the NFC South blog. Check it out.