49ers defensive end Justin Smith replaces Bears running back Matt Forte in the latest MVP watch from Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, one of 50 voters for the Associated Press award.
1. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay. His MVP to lose with seven games to play.
2. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans. No quarterback through 10 games of an NFL season has thrown for more yards than Brees’ 3,326 this year.
3. Tom Brady, QB, New England. Pats haven’t lost three straight since the first year Brady was a full-time starter. Doubt it’s a coincidence.
4. Justin Smith, DL, San Francisco. In Week 4, he sprinted, caught Jeremy Maclin from behind as the Eagles were going in for the winning score, stripped the ball and ended the game. On Sunday, with the Niners clinging to a 27-20 lead and the Giants at the Niner 10 threatening for overtime, Smith stopped running back D.J. Ware on third-and-two for no gain, then forced an incompletion from Eli Manning to Jake Ballard on the last New York snap of the night. If any defender in the league deserves to be on this list after 10 weeks, it’s either he or Darrelle Revis, and today, with the Niners 8-1, I’m picking Smith.
5. Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants. Almost brought the Giants back from way down for the second weekend in a row against a good team on the road.