The pulse of the NFL season changes weekly. Every Tuesday, SI.com will break down the front-runners for the major NFL awards.
1. Tom Brady, Patriots (last week: 1). New England has won six in a row and eight of nine, and Brady is a major reason. He has thrown for multiple touchdowns in seven of his last nine games. Overall he has passed for 25 scores with just four interceptions. His 102.6 rating ranks fourth among qualifying passers.
2. Adrian Peterson, Vikings (2). The veteran running back leads the league in rushing and has carried for at least 100 yards in six consecutive games, including 210 on Sunday. All this coming less than a year after major knee surgery and despite a Vikings passing game that has been held under 160 yards in four of the last six outings.
3. Peyton Manning, Broncos (3). Manning has completed at least 70 percent of his passes in seven of his last nine games, with multiple touchdown passes in nine of his last 10 outings. His team has won seven in a row and might not lose again in the regular season.
1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers (1). Rodgers' statistics won't be as good this season as they were a year ago when he won the MVP award, but in some respects he's having a better year. He has virtually no running game and his receiving corps has been riddled with injuries, yet he continues to carry the Packers. Sunday late in the fourth he converted on four straight third downs to set up the field goal that made it a two-score game.
2. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (2). I know he's out injured, but look at what Pittsburgh was doing with him in the lineup: It had won four consecutive games and five of six overall, and he had thrown for 16 touchdowns with only four picks. In the three games he has missed the offense has scored a total of four TDs.
3. Brady Quinn, Chiefs (NR). Admittedly this is a ridiculous selection and Quinn deserves no shot at the award, still he should be recognized for his performance Sunday, when he completed 19 of 23 passes for 201 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers in an emotional win that came one day after teammate Javon Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend before killing himself. Quinn provided poise in the pocket and perspective in the press room. So, for this week I recognize him.
1. Aldon Smith, 49ers">49ers (1). The outside linebacker has at least one sack in every game but three, with multiple sacks in six of them. Overall he leads the league with 17.5 sacks and has three forced fumbles.
2. Von Miller, Broncos (NR). The second-year outside linebacker can fill up a boxscore. He is third in the league with 15 sacks, has five forced fumbles, an interception, a touchdown and two pass breakups. He's on a roll with at least one sack in five straight games and seven of his last eight.
3. JJ Watt, Texans (NR). After hitting a lull for a couple of weeks, the second-year pro has rallied with four sacks in his last two games. He ranks second in the league with 15.5 sacks and has 15 batted passes, the league high for defensive linemen.
1. Robert Griffin III, Redskins (1). The former Baylor star is The Truth. Lethal as a passer, dangerous as a runner, and mature beyond his years in the pocket and off the field, Griffin is simply an incredible talent.
2. Andrew Luck, Colts (2). Over the last four games he has thrown eight picks and seven touchdowns, but in the only statistic that matters his team is contending for a playoff spot with six wins in its last seven games, including five that required comebacks in the fourth quarter or overtime.
3. Russell Wilson, Seahawks (NR). He's often overshadowed by his more celebrated classmates, but Wilson has been money in recent weeks. He has thrown for at least two touchdowns in five straight games, with only one interception during that time. He also has had a passer rating in excess of 104.0 in four straight outings, with three wins in those games.
1. Janoris Jenkins, Rams (3). A starter from Week 1, the cagey cornerback scored his third touchdown in the last two games, this time returning a fumble two yards for a score to help St. Louis upset San Francisco. The previous week he returned two picks for touchdowns.
2. Bobby Wagner, Seahawks (1). The middle linebacker ranks third among rookies with 101 tackles, including a team-high 11 in Sunday's win at Chicago. He also has three sacks, three pass breakups and an interception.
3. Lavonte David, Bucs (2). The most impressive thing about him is not that he has been a starter since Week 1, but that he also makes all the defensive calls and consistently shows up when big plays need to be made. David also ranks second among rookies with 108 tackles and has four pass breakups and an interception.
1. Gary Kubiak, Texans (1). He keeps losing players, but not games. Houston's 11-1 mark is tied for the league's best.
2. Mike Smith, Falcons (NR). Atlanta isn't rolling over opponents, but it finds ways to win. It's tied with Houston for the league high in wins.
3. Mike Tomlin, Steelers (NR). He subscribes to the philosophy that The Standard Is The Standard, so despite being down to his aging third-string QB, being short on receivers, and having injury issues, his Steelers still knocked off the division-leading Ravens in Baltimore.
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