This is shaping up to be one of those year’s with no slam-dunk MVP candidate. So after six weeks, who has the best shot at the title? In no particular order, here’s our current top 10.

Quarterback Tom Brady: Despite the fact that he missed the first four games, the quarterback has suddenly injected himself into the MVP discussion with a dynamite pair of games, the likes of which we haven’t seen from him before.

As strange as it sounds, even after his four-game exile to start the season. he’s as good a candidate as anyone at this point on the calendar. Overall, Brady has completed 76 percent of his passes and thrown for 782 yards, to go along with six touchdowns and no interceptions. Unless someone on a high-profile team gets hot and separates himself from the rest of the pack (like a 20-sack season from Von Miller, for example), he should be able to stick around and be a part of the conversation, provided he stays healthy. (At least the oddsmakers like his chances.)

Linebacker Von Miller:
You can certainly make a case for the best defensive player on the best defense in the league, especially (as we said) if he’s able to break out with some sort of big numbers. He’s on his way with a league-best 7.5 sacks in six games. From this viewpoint, as long as the Broncos remain in the race, Miller will get plenty of votes.

Running back Ezekiel Elliott: Why not? The Elliott/Dak Prescott combo has injected new life into the Dallas offense. Elliott has 703 rushing yards through six games, and a 2,000-yard season and postseason berth for the Cowboys would certainly get him MVP consideration. He could end up splitting votes with Prescott — who will be the default Dallas candidate, especially if he continues to play well — but from this viewpoint, we’d be more inclined to cast our ballot for Elliott.

Quarterback Matt Ryan: The Falcons are a surprising 4-2, and the 31-year-old Ryan is a big reason why. The former BC product has completed 68 percent of his passes for 2,075 yards, with 15 touchdowns, three interceptions, and a passer rating of 117.9 (best in the NFL among starters). It might not be sustainable, but he’s made as good a case as anyone to be consider the first ex-Boston College player to win an NFL MVP award.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger: Roethlisberger is out for this week’s game against the Patriots, but through the first six games, he’s led the Steelers to a 4-2 starts, and has been right there when it comes to statistical totals. The Steelers’ signal-caller is at or near the top of the league in most major passing categories, including completion rate (64 percent), total passing yards (1,685), touchdowns (16), just six picks and a passer rating of 99.2.

Quarterback Russell Wilson: Wilson will never overwhelm you with crazy numbers, but his ability to keep his head in big games as the quarterback for one of the best teams in the league wins him a spot on this list. The Seahawks are 4-1, while Wilson is clicking with a 66 percent completion rate, 1,334 passing yards, five touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 97. Again, not overwhelming, but his performance as the centerpiece of one of the best team’s in the league should be enough to keep him in the conversation.

Wide receiver Julio Jones: While Ryan will likely get the bulk of the NFC South votes, Jones should at least get some consideration. In a year where there have been some really good performances from some really good receivers, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Jones has been the best of the best to this point on the calendar. Heading into Thursday night, he leads the league in receiving yards (656) and is third in yards per catch (21.2), to go along with 31 total catches. That includes the sort of signature game that voters love, a 12-catch, 300-yard outing against Carolina.

Running back Le’Veon Bell: Oh my God. Those were the three words that patriots coach Bill Belichick used when asked about Bell on Thursday. And while national voters will likely defer to Roethlisberger (or wide receiver Antonio Brown) when considering the Steelers’ MVP candidates, Bell has been awesome since he returned to the field. The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder, the fastest player in league history to reach 3,000 yards rushing and 1,500 yards receiving, is a multidimensional threat: in just three games, he has 48 carries for 263 yards an an impressive 5.5 yards per carry average, and is second on the team in catches with 20 receptions on 24 targets for 177 yards. A strong finish rest of the year will certainly bolster his credentials.

Running back LeSean McCoy: We struggled with whether to go with McCoy or Arizona’s David Johnson, but from this viewpoint, Shady has earned his spot. McCoy is the only back in the league in the top 3 in total rushing yards (587), yards per carry (5.6) and rushing touchdowns (6). He’s also got 20 catches for 97 yards and a receiving touchdown. If there’s a national face of the Bills early-season turnaround, it’s McCoy.

Quarterback Sam Bradford: Look, I’m going to level with you: I’m sure sure I want to be a part of a football world where Sam Bradford is getting MVP consideration. But given the fact that he’s the starting quarterback on one of the best teams in the league through six games, well, here we are. Bradford has done well managing the Minnesota offense to start the season with a 70 percent completion rate, 990 passing yards, six touchdowns, no picks and a 109.8 passer rating. I don’t expect it to last, but as long as the Vikings’ defense is carrying the rest of the team, he’s going to be part of the conversation.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell broke his silence on the declining TV ratings on Wednesday, blaming the drop on a numbers of issues.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell broke his silence on the declining TV ratings on Wednesday, blaming the drop on a numbers of issues.

“I don’t think there is a single reason for it. We look at all those factors. Everyone has theories,” he said while at the fall owners’ meetings. “We also know that two primetime games that saw our most dramatic decrease went straight up against two very significant debates. Another one of our primetime games was on Thursday night on NFL Network, as opposed to a network broadcast, which will always get a lower rating. There are a lot of factors to be considered. We don’t make excuses. We try to look at what’s causing it and make changes.

“We don’t think we’ve lost viewers. When you look at ratings, you have to look a little deeper than that. It’s viewers, but also how long they’re engaging for. A lot of times, people will leave a game for whatever reason.”

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Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Oct 16, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin looks on in the game against the Miami Dolphins during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. The Miami Dolphins defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-15. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Tomlin has been at the controls of the Steelers since 2007. (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — When Bill Belichick and Tom Brady talk about the Pittsburgh Steelers, the enormous respect they have for the organization is obvious.

This is the 15th anniversary of New England’s first AFC championship encounter with the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The two franchises have been the most successful in the AFC in the Super Bowl era.

The Steelers have six Super Bowl titles and the Patriots own four.

Since 1995, the two teams have combined for a remarkable run of dominance in the AFC. In that stretch, the Patriots have been to seven Super Bowls and 10 AFC championship games. The Steelers have been to four Super Bowls, winning twice and have made it to the AFC championship eight times.

“They’ve been one of the best for a long time,” Brady said Wednesday. “The history of the Steeler organization with so many great players and teams and championships, you know you’re always going to get a dog fight when you play them.

“I have a lot of respect for them. They play the game the right way. They’re always physical. They’re a tough, physical group and that’s pretty much what comes out of Pittsburgh. They play well, they’re coached well. They’re just a great organization.”

Belichick has an even greater appreciation for what the Rooney family has accomplished, going back to 1975, Belichick’s first year in the NFL. That was the year he was an assistant under Ted Marchibroda in Baltimore. That year, the Colts lost to the powerhouse Steel Curtain in the the AFC divisional round, 21-10, as Andy Russell returned a fumble for a game-changing score.

That was the second of four Vince Lombardi trophies in six years for head coach Chuck Noll and the Steelers, as they built the dynasty that continues today. After Noll, the Steelers have had just two head coaches, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin, a remarkable run of consistency in the organization. Unlike the Bengals, who have had the same head coach for 14 years, the Steelers have actually had playoff success under Cowher and Tomlin, with each head coach winning a Super Bowl.

“They have great continuity,” Belichick said. “They’ve had three coaches since the late 60s. Coach Cowher, Coach Tomlin, that goes 25 years, two general managers, two coaches. They’ve had a lot of continuity, and when you have continuity like they have in their organization, they really haven’t changed defenses much over that same quarter of a century. So, as a scout, I mean I could scout for the Steelers.

“They do the same thing, they stay with it so you know what kind of players they’re looking for at each position. They have a very extensive scheme through their continuity. They do quite a bit in terms of the volume of their plays that you have to defend. But they can do them because they’ve been doing them over and over again, and they have a lot of the same guys doing them.”

While Ben Roethlisberger won’t be playing this Sunday, Belichick insists the Steelers are still an offensive threat with Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and DeAngelo Williams.

“Offensively, it’s really all the same guys here for the last couple of years,” Belichick said. “They’ve lost a couple of guys, like Heath Miller’s not there. But the guys that are there have pretty much been there [for a while]. Or guys like James who have come up through the system over a couple of years. Maybe he’s got a little more playing time but it’s not like he’s new to their system. Same thing on defense. A lot of continuity.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Stephen Gostkowski has missed a kick in three straight games. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)FOXBORO -- At times, being an NFL kicker is one of the toughest jobs in all of sports.

Mike Tomlin and the Steelers ruled Ben Roethlisberger out on Tuesday. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

Mike Tomlin and the Steelers ruled Ben Roethlisberger out on Tuesday. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger injured his knee in Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins.

Instead of perhaps having the Patriots guess for a few days with who would start at quarterback this Sunday, the Steelers officially ruled Roethlisberger out on Tuesday and named Landry Jones the starter.

“We’re a transparent group. We don’t hide. We are who we are,” Steelers coaching Mike Tomlin said on a conference call with New England reporters on Wednesday. “He had a surgical procedure to address his knee issue so to eliminate any potential questions or distractions regarding his availability and get firmly focused on the task at hand with the man playing quarterback that’s playing quarterback this week. That’s the approach.”

Another topic that came up on the call were technological issues on the sidelines.

The Patriots had trouble this past Sunday and the last time the two teams met, the Steelers had issues when they heard the Patriots’ radio broadcast over their headsets during the Week 1 matchup in 2015 at Gillette Stadium.

“We’ve had some technological issues on the sidelines, particularly in recent years, so that’s nothing new,” Tomlin said.

The Patriots enter the game 5-1, while the Steelers are 4-2, but are expected to be without Roethlisberger for 4-6 weeks after surgery on Monday.

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Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Matthew Slater lays out the plans to help victims of Hurricane Matthew Wednesday at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/

FOXBORO — Matthew Slater took to the podium on Wednesday to talk about the Steelers and where he thinks the Patriots stand after six weeks.

But before hand, Matthew the special teams captain had an announcement about an initiative to help victims of those affected by another Matthew.

Hundreds of people were killed in Haiti by Hurricane Matthew earlier this month and thousands were affected in both Haiti and the Carolinas, specifically North Carolina where he and his wife, Shahzrad, have family.

“My wife and I will be hosting an event Oct. 25, next Tuesday, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. It’s called Matthew vs. Matthew and the idea behind this is, we have family in the Carolinas and living up here in the Boston area, we’ve met a lot of people that have ties to Haiti.

“Hurricane Matthew has obviously had a devastating effect on a lot of people so we wanted to do something that would provide some relief efforts for the people affected by this. The event is at Splitsville, right up here at Patriot Place, next Tuesday; a lot of the guys [will be there].”

The website for more information about the event next Tuesday is

“We’ll have some great auction items and it’ll be a great time, but most importantly, every penny we raise will go directly to an organization called ‘Samaritan’s Purse.’ That’s already on the ground in the Carolinas and in Haiti,” Slater added. “They do tremendous work. It’s an organization I’ve had a long-standing relationship with. I can’t take the credit for this. This is my wife’s idea, but it’s something I wanted to let you guys know [about] and get the word out there.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — Tight end Martellus Bennett (ankle), linebacker Jamie Collins (hip), linebacker Elandon Roberts (ankle) and wide receiver Julian Edelman (foot) were among the 10 players limited in Wednesday’s practice, the team announced Wednesday afternoon.

Collins missed last Sunday’s win over the Bengals because of the hip issue.

Julian Edelman

Julian Edelman

FOXBORO — Tight end Martellus Bennett (ankle), linebacker Jamie Collins (hip), linebacker Elandon Roberts (ankle) and wide receiver Julian Edelman (foot) were among the 10 players limited in Wednesday’s practice, the team announced Wednesday afternoon.

Collins missed last Sunday’s win over the Bengals because of the hip issue.

The news of who is on the list is just as big as who isn’t on the injury report: tight end Rob Gronkowski, who had been suffering from hamstring issues and a stomach bug this year, is not on the first one of the week.

Here’s the complete list.

Tight end Martellus Bennett (ankle)
Running back Brandon Bolden (knee)
Linebacker Jamie Collins (hip)
Wide receiver Julian Edelman (foot)
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (right shoulder)
Defensive lineman Woodrow Hamilton (shoulder)
Linebacker Shea McClellin (concussion)
Wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell (hamstring)
Linebacker Elandon Roberts (ankle)
Defensive lineman Vincent Valentine (back)

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Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — Do the Patriots stand any chance of losing this weekend in Pittsburgh without Ben Roethlisberger? Bill Belichick is getting his team ready and amped for Heinz Field. WEEI’s Mike Petraglia and Ryan Hannable have your preview.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia