No matter how great a story Michael Vick's resurgence has been, it'd be difficult to come up with an argument as to why he should win the NFL's Most Valuable Player award over Tom Brady.
Who'd have guessed Brady could actually have a better season than he did in 2007, when he set an NFL record with 50 touchdown passes, and he's doing so this year despite the fact his coach traded his No. 1 receiver to Minnesota midway through the season. And who'd have guessed Brady could put up such monster numbers -- 29 touchdowns and only four interceptions -- under the duress of having one of the league's worst defenses on his side?
Suffice to say, what Brady has done this season -- and particularly in the past five weeks -- is remarkable. Since losing to Cleveland on Nov. 7, the Patriots have won five consecutive games without committing a single turnover. That's a credit to Brady, who has not thrown an interception since Oct. 17 or coughed the ball up in any fashion since the loss to the Browns.
Through it all, he's been insanely efficient, completing more than 67 percent of his passes in each of his past five games, including an eye-popping 21-for-27 against Detroit on Thanksgiving, a game in which he achieved a perfect passer rating of 158.3.
Until 2007, Brady had never been a big "numbers" guy. His claim to fame was winning in the postseason (he won each of his first nine playoff games, including three Super Bowls, before 2005). Now he's hoping to do both. The year he broke Peyton Manning's record with 50 touchdown passes, the Patriots lost to the Giants in the Super Bowl. This year's team is a lot different; it's not as reliant on the deep ball, plus its quarterback is arguably more efficient and protective of the ball than he was during that record-setting season.
To put it in proper context, Brady threw eight interceptions in '07. Unless he hits the wall in these final three weeks, he'll more than likely set a career low for interceptions in a single season. He's already surpassed his second-best single-season touchdown total (he reached 28 in three different seasons and has 29 this year), so it'd be hard to argue with 30 or more touchdowns and fewer than eight interceptions somehow not being his most efficient season.
The astronomical numbers of '07 were fun to look at, but this is the real Tom Brady -- an efficient passer who sees every receiver and will throw to whoever's open, not just lock in on one target. This is the Brady who won three Super Bowls in his first four seasons at the helm, and it's the same Brady who's deserving of this year's MVP award.
--New England has now qualified for the playoffs 18 times in its 51-year history. The Patriots have earned 12 playoff berths in the 17 seasons since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994, a dramatic contrast to the six total playoff berths that the team earned in its first 34 years of existence.
New England has won 12 division crowns and has qualified as a wild card team on four occasions (1998, 1994, 1985 and 1976). The Patriots also qualified for the playoffs in 1982 as part of a 16-team tournament following a players' strike.
--The Patriots played the Bears under snowy conditions and improved to a 10-0 record under head coach Bill Belichick when playing in the snow. In the last three games played in the snow, the Patriots have outscored their opponents 142-14.
--The Patriots have scored at least 30 points without committing a turnover in each of their past five games to extend their NFL record.
No other team has scored at least 30 points without committing a turnover in four consecutive games.
--QB Tom Brady has thrown at least two touchdowns without an interception in each of his past six games to tie Don Meredith for the longest streak in league history.
Brady also extended his team-record streak to 268 consecutive pass attempts without an interception. He eclipsed his old record of 183 consecutive pass attempts without an interception (set in 2009) on Thanksgiving at Detroit.
--WR Julian Edelman had a career-long 42-yard punt return in the second quarter Sunday in Chicago. His previous best was a 35-yarder last season against Tennessee. Ironically, both of those punt returns were in snow games.
--WR Deion Branch set a career high with 151 receiving yards Sunday. His previous best was a 130-yard performance at San Francisco in 2007 while he was with Seattle.
-- Rookie TE Rob Gronkowski caught his seventh touchdown reception of the season Sunday on a 7-yard pass from Tom Brady in the first quarter. Gronkowski is chasing down WR Jim Colclough and WR Randy Vataha for the Patriots' rookie record of nine receiving touchdowns.