[caption id="attachment_19374" align="aligncenter" width="468"] Jason Getz / ajc.com[/caption] We're a quarter (and a bit!) through the season. Every team has played 4 games and we can all get a sense as to who the league MVP might be come seasons end. Now before I name my top 5 early candidates for the league MVP award, it goes without saying that there are some surprise inclusions at this early stage of the season. One quarterback who has yet to win a playoff game, a defensive end in only his second season and a running back who has an appetite for skittles! So, without further ado; 1, Matt Ryan – Quarterback – Atlanta Falcons. Did anyone expect Matt Ryan to get off to such a great start? Yes he’s always been a good quarterback since entering the league but to me he always seemed to be just short of elite status. Well now ‘Matty Ice’ is making everyone stand up and take notice. He’s completed 69.4% of his passes for 1,162 yards with 11 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and a league best rating of 112.1. It also helps that he has the likes of Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez to throw to. But his poise and leadership has really set him apart this season and he could go on to win his first playoff game this season. Welcome to elite status Matt. 2, Eli Manning – Quarterback – New York Giants. Carrying on from where he left off last season, Eli Manning continues to prove his doubters wrong, of which there are many. His 510 yard passing performance vs Tampa Bay was arguably one of the best performances we've seen in a long time as he continues this season to be a clutch performer. He’s currently on pace to throw for over 5,000 yards this season and all the while he is under centre, the New York Giants will continue to be a premier team in the NFL. 3, Marshawn Lynch – Running back – Seattle Seahawks. A lot has been said about the Seahawk defence so far this season, and rightly so. However this also means that somewhat quietly Marshawn Lynch has become the NFL’s leading rusher through the first 4 games with 423 yards total rushing at 4.6 yards a pop. He has been consistent these past 4 games rushing for 85, 122, 98 and 118 yards. All this has been done while suffering a slight back injury too. An underrated running back in my opinion and well deserving at this point of being in the MVP conversation. 4, JJ Watt – Defensive End – Houston Texans. Yes, you heard me right, a defensive player in the top 5 early candidates for league MVP and I’ll tell you why. JJ Watt has simply been a force so far this season. He leads the league in sacks with 7.5. He can defend against the run, he can disrupt anybody’s passing game with not only his sacks, but with the ability to block passes and even intercept passes at the line of scrimmage. And when you can stand out in a defense like Houston’s then you are one special player. 5, Joe Flacco – Quarterback – Baltimore Ravens. I’ll admit to never really being a fan of Joe Flacco and when he came out before the season started and declared himself an elite quarterback I couldn’t help but laugh. However so far this season he is proving me wrong! He has thrown for 1,269 yards meaning he too is on pace to throw for over 5,000 yards. Hands up to those who thought we’d be saying that about Joe Flacco. He has led the Baltimore Ravens offense to number 2 in the league in yards per game and showed he can be a clutch performer in the game against New England. By declaring himself elite could Joe Flacco be this seasons Eli Manning and lead the Ravens to the Super Bowl? So, there are my picks. Who are your picks and have I left anyone off this list?