Who should be the NFL's MVP?

BY DI STAFF | JANUARY 22, 2013 6:30 AM

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Peyton Manning, quarterback, Denver Broncos

Peyton Manning is more than deserving of his fifth NFL MVP award. 

Technically, it should be his sixth. Manning proved his worth when the Colts posted a 2-14 record without him in 2011. Not only did Peyton pass for 4,659 yards and 37 touchdowns this season, but he did so in his first season as a member of the Denver Broncos on the heels of sitting out an entire season recovering from numerous neck surgeries. 

After a slow 2-3 start, Manning and the Broncos never lost again during the regular season. Manning led his teammates to a 13-victory season, and his 11-game winning streak was enough to earn the No. 1 seed in the AFC for the playoffs and another Pro Bowl selection — his 12th. Manning also posted a 105.8 QB rating for the season, good enough for second place behind Aaron Rodgers in the NFL for quarterback rating. 

What may be most impressive about all of these statistics, though, is that Manning managed to do this while getting accustomed to a new team. He was faced with the difficult task of working with a new center and throwing the ball to his new receivers. The rest of the team was faced with the even more difficult task of transitioning from the option offense of Tim Tebow to the complex, hurry-up, full of lengthy line-of-scrimmage discussions that Manning had so much success with in Indianapolis. 

That Manning was able to form strong connections with and praise his young receivers — Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas — so quickly is a testimony in itself for Manning’s MVP candidacy. Each receiver had career highs in both yards and touchdown receptions with Peyton under center. 

Sure, Adrian Peterson had a tremendous season, but his return to the game was never in doubt from the moment he was injured. Manning, on the other hand, was a question mark even after he signed a vie-year deal with Denver. 

No one played like Manning played this season. And no one did so after numerous neck surgeries. What more does a guy need on his résumé, a fake girlfriend? 

— by Matt Cabel

Adrian Peterson, running back, Minnesota Vikings     

I could argue all day about why Adrian Peterson is the no-brainer choice for Most Valuable Player in the NFL. The statistics he put up would be considered unbelievable if they hadn’t actually happened. He had 2,097 rushing yards, second most ever in a season, and averaged 6.0 yards per carry. He was only the second player ever to have seven 150-yard rushing games. If he had gained one more yard against Green Bay in the final game of the regular season, he would have been the first player ever to record three 200-yard games in one calendar month.

The list goes on and on.

Those statistics themselves should be enough to crown Peterson the MVP, but there are other factors that make what he accomplished even more incredible.

On Dec. 24, 2011, Peterson tore his ACL and MCL in a game against the Washington Redskins. Only eight months later, he returned to his starting role in the Vikings backfield to begin the 2012 season. That is an incredibly short amount of time to play, let alone dominate the field as Peterson did.

Peterson also accomplished all of this for a Minnesota Vikings team that finished 3-13 in 2011 and was expected to do the same this season. As the biggest and possibly only threat the Vikings had, opponents stacked the box with eight and sometimes nine defenders. It didn’t stop him.

He practically single-handedly brought the Vikings to a playoff berth. Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder certainly didn’t lead the team.

The NFL is a pass-happy league, and Peterson put up one of the best rushing seasons the NFL has ever seen. Week after week, he put the Vikings on his back and carried a subpar team to the playoffs. Without him, the team has nothing.

Any NFL team would be substantially better with him on it.  If that doesn’t constitute what a most valuable player should be, I don’t know what does.

— by Tommy Reinking

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