A few weeks ago, this space featured some thoughts on why Cam Newton should not be considered among the top candidates for the MVP award.

That view has started to change.

The issues that were used to build the initial argument have not changed. Newton doesn’t complete enough of his passes and battles with stretches of inaccuracy that is visually unappealing. But the initial argument failed to take into account all he does for the Carolina Panthers.

His unique skill set allows them to run an entire system no one else in the NFL is capable of running. Their read option stuff is difficult to defend, and Newton brings value and contributes tremendously even when he isn’t racking up his own stats.

All you have to do is go back and watch a third-and-2 play against the Saints when New Orleans defended Newton, and he pitched the ball off for a gain that exceeded 10 yards to see the difficulties that he presents. That play won’t show up on his stats, but it was Newton who created the gain.

So, couple that with the fact Carolina is unbeaten, and it’s difficult to deny Newton’s candidacy for the award. He’s the among the most unique players in the NFL and needs to be viewed through a prism that is different than other players.

Still, at best, Newton is third among MVP candidates in through this view, behind Arizona’s Carson Palmer and New England’s Tom Brady.

Both players are enjoying great season. Palmer is having the best season of his career and has shown up with several clutch performances, while Brady is doing the usual Brady thing and has the Patriots sitting on a perfect record.

But you could argue for any of the three and make a compelling case.

Nick Underhill

NICK’S PICKS: Underhill’s top five teams (this week)

1. Patriots (10-0)

Rex Ryan pulled out one of the best defensive game plans in recent history and it still wasn’t enough. But injuries have this team looking vulnerable.

2. Panthers (10-0)

We were slow to buy in to how good the Panthers really are. Maybe it’s because Luke McCown almost beat them, but this team might be the real deal.

3. Cardinals (8-2)

Carson Palmer is playing as good as it gets, and the defense is legit. Even though Carolina has the best record in the NFC, the Cardinals might be the team to beat.

4. Broncos (8-2)

It’s crazy to think this team might be better with Brock Osweiller at quarterback instead of Peyton Manning. All he has to do is protect the ball, and they’ll be fine.

5. Bengals (8-2)

Is this team fading, or did it just hit a rough patch? After starting 8-2, Cincinnati has lost two games in a row. One more loss and the Bengals will fall out of the top 5.

This Week’s Games

BILLS (5-5) at CHIEFS (5-5)

WHEN: Noon Sunday

Line: Chiefs by 51/2

BRIEFLY: Chiefs have won two straight against Bills. ... Kansas City has league-leading 14 TDs rushing. Buffalo is second with 12. ... Chiefs are third in NFL with plus-10 turnover margin. Bills are plus-5, tied for sixth. ... Chiefs’ Travis Kelce has 50 receptions, third most among AFC TEs. Bills’ Charles Clay is sixth with 41.

NICK’S PICK: Bills 17, Chiefs 13

RAMS (4-6) at BENGALS (8-2)

WHEN: Noon Sunday

Line: Bengals by 9

BRIEFLY: Game matches two of NFL’s top defensive tackles. Rams’ Aaron Donald and Bengals’ Geno Atkins have seven sacks each, tied for league lead by interior linemen. ... Rams rookie RB Todd Gurley has rushed for 766 yards and six TDs in past seven games. He’s scored a TD in each of last five games. He leads NFL with four runs of at least 45 yards. ... RB Jeremy Hill (LSU) needs two TDs to become first player in Bengals history with at least 10 TDs in each of first two seasons.

NICK’S PICK: Bengals 24, Rams 17

BUCS (5-5) at COLTS (5-5)

WHEN: Noon Sunday

Line: Colts by 3

BRIEFLY: QB Jameis Winston threw five touchdown passes last week, giving him 15 for season, four short of tying Bucs’ rookie record. ... Win would tie Colts’ longest winning streak (three) and put them over .500 for second time this season. ... Forty-year-old QB Matt Hasselbeck is 3-0 in relief of Andrew Luck, who will miss Sunday’s game with a lacerated kidney and partially torn abdominal muscle.

NICK’S PICK: Colts 28, Bucs 21

Chargers (2-8) at JAGUARS (4-6)

WHEN: Noon Sunday

Line: Jaguars by 5½

BRIEFLY: Chargers have lost six straight games but have won four in a row in this series. ... Philip Rivers needs two touchdown passes to tie Joe Montana (273) for 12th on all-time list. Vinny Testaverde ranks 11th with 275. ... Jaguars have won three of four, including two in row for the first time in nearly two years. ... Blake Bortles needs three TD passes to tie David Garrard’s single-season, franchise record of 23.

NICK’S PICK: Jaguars 21, Chargers 20


WHEN: Noon Sunday

Line: Jets by 4

BRIEFLY: Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill has thrown two or more TD passes in seven of last nine and passed for 250 yards or more in four of last five road games. ... WR Jarvis Landry (LSU) is first Dolphins player with completion, rushing attempt, catch, kick return and punt return in same season since Mark Clayton in 1983. Landry is only player in NFL with 60-plus catches (63) and punt return for TD this year. ... Jets sticking with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has struggled at times and is playing through surgically repaired left thumb. He has 16 TDs and 11 INTs and is New York’s second-leading rusher with 166 yards.

NICK’S PICK: Jets 24, Dolphins 20

VIKINGS (7-3) at Falcons (6-4)

WHEN: Noon Sunday

Line: Falcons by 11/2

BRIEFLY: Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson leads NFL in rushing with 1,006 yards. It is seventh 1,000-yard season of career. ... Falcons have their own league leader: WR Julio Jones has three straight 100-yard receiving games and six for season. Overall, he’s got 89 receptions for 1,189 yards, topping NFL in both categories. ... Atlanta RB Devonta Freeman suffered concussion early in last week’s game, and NFL’s fifth-leading rusher (764 yards) will not play in Sunday’s game.

NICK’S PICK: Vikings 27, Falcons 21


WHEN: Noon Sunday

Line: Giants by 21/2

BRIEFLY: If Redskins win, they will pull even with Giants atop NFC East and surpass last season’s victory total. ... New York’s Tom Coughlin is 3-0 against Washington’s Jay Gruden as head coaches. ... Giants lead NFL with a plus-13 turnover margin; Redskins are at minus-5. ... Giants QB Eli Manning’s set to make 178th consecutive start, longest active streak in league. ... WR Odell Beckham Jr. (LSU) scored four TDs in last three games overall, and four TDs in two games vs. Redskins.

NICK’S PICK: Giants 24, Redskins 23

RAIDERS (4-6) at TITANS (2-8)

WHEN: Noon Sunday

Line: Raiders by 1

BRIEFLY: Raiders have lost three straight. ... Titans have lost 10 straight at home. ... Raiders QB Derek Carr has thrown for 300 yards or more in three of past four games. Carr needs one more 300-yard passing game to join Rich Gannon (10 in 2002, when he was NFL MVP) and Carson Palmer (six in 2012) as only Raiders with six or more in single season. ... Raiders WR Amari Cooper leads NFL rookies with 51 receptions and 736 yards receiving.

NICK’S PICK: Raiders 26, Titans 21

CARDINALS (8-2) at 49ERS (3-7)

WHEN: 3:05 p.m. Sunday

Line: Cardinals by 10

BRIEFLY: Cardinals have won four in row, have second-best record in NFL along with Cincinnati and Denver. Cardinals have won two of last three against San Francisco. ... Arizona’s last road win in rivalry came Sept. 7, 2008, at Candlestick Park (23-13). San Francisco will try to split season series for second straight year. ... 49ers have won last six meetings at home vs. Cardinals and seven of eight. ... 49ers scored 20 or more points in each of those six consecutive home victories against Cardinals. ... Arizona QB Carson Palmer tries for 22nd win in past 26 starts. His 27 touchdowns passing are most by Cardinals quarterback in opening 10 games.

NICK’S PICK: Cardinals 27, 49ers 17

Steelers (6-4) at SEAhawks (5-5)

WHEN: 3:25 p.m. Sunday

Line: Seahawks by 31/2

BRIEFLY: First meeting in Seattle since 2003. ... Steelers are 3-0 against NFC West this season. ... QB Ben Roethlisberger is 3-0 in career against Seahawks, including victory in Super Bowl at conclusion of 2005 season. ... Roethlisberger has 119.4 passer rating in two regular-season games vs. Seahawks. ... Roethlisberger tied with former Seahawks QB Dave Kreig for 14th in NFL history with 261 touchdown passes.

NICK’S PICK: Steelers 23, Seahawks 20

PATRIOTS (10-0) at BRONCOS (8-2)

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sunday

Line: Patriots by 21/2

BRIEFLY: Bill Belichick is 8-11 against Broncos. His counterpart, Gary Kubiak, is 1-4 against Patriots. ... Patriots are 10-0 for second time in their history and have reached double digit wins for 13th consecutive season, second all-time to San Francisco 49ers’ streak of 16 from 1983-98.

NICK’S PICK: Patriots 27, Broncos 20

RAVENS (3-7) at BROWNS (2-8)

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Monday

Line: Browns by 31/2

BRIEFLY: Primetime matchup lost luster with injury to Ravens QB Joe Flacco and benching of Browns QB Johnny Manziel. ... Ravens come into Cleveland with clipped wings as Flacco (knee) and RB Justin Forsett (broken arm) suffered season-ending injuries last week ... Ravens have 15 players on injured reserve.

NICK’S PICK: Browns 17, Ravens 13

FOR THE RECORD (straight up)

Nick’s picks last week: 6-7

For the season: 88-56