Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins: Yeah, we're going a few days back here, but could we really start our MVP list this time with anyone but the man who has thrown for eight touchdowns and just one pick in the last calendar week? In wins over the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys in a four-day stretch, the rookie completed 34 passes in 43 attempts for 511 yards, and that amazing 8/1 TD/INT line. In each of those two games, his four touchdown passes went to different receivers, and opponents are at a loss as to how to deal with him.
"I was in awe of RGIII and the plays he was making," Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said after Washington's Thanksgiving Day win over Jones' team. "We don't have to play [him] but one more time [this season]. I'd hate to [have] to line up against him five or six times."
The people who are actually lining up against RG3 feel the same way. This kid is going to be a pain in their butts for a good, long time.
Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens: Rice ran 22 times for 97 yards in Baltimore's 16-13 Sunday win over the San Diego Chargers, but that's not why he's an MVP this week. Rice is an MVP this week because he made an incredible play when his team most needed him. Desperate to sustain a drive to get a game-tying field goal late in regulation, the Ravens called a play that would have been a disaster under most circumstances -- a little dink pass to Rice from Joe Flacco on fourth-and-29. Rice did it all from there, eluding several Chargers defenders and picking up the first down with a 30-yard play. That's the very definition of an MVP play.
Janoris Jenkins, CB, St. Louis Rams: Jenkins recently got in hot water for missing a curfew, causing Rams head coach Jeff Fisher to sit him out two weeks ago and miss an important game against the 49ers. That seemed to bring up all the suspicions about Jenkins' off-field reputation, and why he was selected in the second round of the 2012 NFL draft despite football talent that would have seen him drafted much higher without those issues. However, against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, Jenkins showed the good side of that talent by returning two Ryan Lindley passes for touchdowns in a 31-17 Rams victory. It was the first time that any Rams player had two pick-sixes in a regular-season game. No rookie on any team had two interception returns for touchdowns in a single game since Bobby Franklin for the 1960 Cleveland Browns.
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants: In the five games before Sunday night's dominating 38-10 win over the Green Bay Packers, Manning had thrown for a grand total of two touchdowns, and the G-Men had a record of 3-2, Clearly, the Giants go as Manning goes, and that's why it must have been a relief for all involved to see their quarterback back on point with a 249-yard, three-touchdown performance that seemed to put all the speculation about a tired arm to rest. The Giants seem to be ready to take their usual late-season victory tour around the NFL.
Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons: Jones was the difference in Atlanta's 24-23 comeback win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He caught six passes for 147 yards, and his 80-yard touchdown haul from Matt Ryan halfway through the third quarter kept the Falcons humming, despite the best efforts of Bucs running back Doug Martin (who scored two touchdowns) and Falcons kicker Matt Bryant (who missed two of three field goals). As the Falcons turn to a more pass-happy offense, Jones has become one of their most important players.