From Week 1 through Week 17, USA TODAY Sports' NFL staff will be handicapping the race for league MVP.
A first-place vote is worth five points, a second-place vote is worth three, and a third-place vote is worth one.
Our MVP tracker through Week 6's games:
1. QB Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (35 points): For the fourth week in a row, he tops our list. But for the first time, he swept our panel's first-place votes — and after a game Atlanta lost (though the officials had something to do with that). Ryan hung three TD passes Sunday on the Seattle Seahawks defense, which had allowed just one in its first four games combined. He continues to lead the NFL in passing yards (2,075) and passer rating (117.9), though Tom Brady will threaten the second figure once he's played enough games to qualify. Ryan's 15 TD passes are one off the league lead, but he will almost certainly overtake injured Ben Roethlisberger in Week 7 when he faces the San Diego Chargers' shaky pass defense in the Georgia Dome. Last week: 1
T2. RB Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys (6 points): The rookie makes his first appearance this season on our list but could soon become a mainstay. For all the talk about fellow rook Dak Prescott amid Dallas' hot start, it's Elliott who leads the NFL in rushing (703 yards) and is on pace to smash Eric Dickerson's 33-year-old rookie rushing mark (1,808 yards). Last Sunday, Elliott became the first rookie to run for at least 130 yards in four straight games — a pace that would allow him to challenge Dickerson's single-season record (2,105 yards) if he can somehow maintain it. Last week: unranked
T2. QB Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (6 points): His numbers so far won't wow you — and it's worth remembering, they didn't really spike until the second half of last season — but Wilson's grittiness might. He's only missed a handful of snaps for the first-place 'Hawks despite ankle and knee injuries that have limited his mobility (he's rushed for just 35 yards in 2016). But despite that, the retirement of RB Marshawn Lynch and an offensive line that remains in flux, Wilson continues to get the job done in arguably the league's most physical division. Last week: unranked
T4. QB Tom Brady, New England Patriots (4 points): Like a horse coming from the back of the pack, you can see the already twice-crowned MVP making his move. Since returning from his Deflategate suspension two weeks ago, he's been scalding (782 passing yards, 6 TDs) with a sublime 135.5 QB rating. And there may be no slowing a scolded Brady or his team, which now looks unstoppable in the AFC. Last week: unranked
T4. OLB Von Miller, Denver Broncos (4 points): He had another highly disruptive game last week, though it wasn't enough to stave off a loss to the San Diego Chargers. And though his streak of games (playoffs included) with at least a half-sack now stands at eight, Miller will continue to lose steam in this race unless his dominance hits a new level and, more importantly, Denver starts winning again. Last week: 4
Others receiving votes: Drew Brees (3 points), Dak Prescott (3), David Johnson (1), Ben Roethlisberger (1)
Dropped out: Derek Carr
Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis
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