Despite all that has happened in the past few years, the MVP race will come down to two players: Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. That’s perfect for the casual NFL fan. Brady and Manning have been the two biggest faces in the NFL since 2000. For the hardcore NFL fans it’s a great story to follow, but we know that in the end neither will be the right decision.
We saw in 2008 when the New England Patriots went 11-5 when Brady went down for the season. We saw the Denver Broncos make it to the Divisional Round last year with Tim Tebow at the helm. As exceptional as both players have been this season (Brady – 4276 yards, 30 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 100.1 passer rating; Manning – 4016 yards, 31 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 103.5 passer rating), there has been one player who’s been more deserving of the award: Adrian Peterson.
You can state how the NFL is now a quarterback league and in fact you are true, but without AP, this Minnesota Vikings team might not have won a game this year. Christian Ponder isn’t an ideal franchise quarterback, yet this Minnesota team is 8-6 and is currently in the 6th seed. If they win out they’ll certainly get into the playoffs, but the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers won’t make it easy for him.
But regardless of whether they’re playing for the championship or not, one can’t ignore what Peterson has done this year. In the last 8 weeks of the season he’s ran for 1,313 rushing yards. That’s the most in NFL history over an 8-game span. To give some perspective, Arian Foster has run for 1,313 yards on the season. Those 1,313 is also 300 more yards than the next person (Doug Martin – 927). And during that same span, Ponder has thrown for 1,093 yards, 6 touchdowns and 8 interceptions and has completed 57 percent of his passes. He’s also only passed for 200+ yards in a game over that span.
There hasn’t been a running back that has kept his team within contention despite his quarterbacks ineptitude. Peterson is also close to breaking Eric Dickerson’s 28-year record of 2,105 rushing yards in a single season. Currently, AP is sitting at 1,812 needing 293 more yards to break the record. His team has been without Percy Harvin for majority of the season adding more pressure for Peterson to carry his team and he continues to do it night in and night out.
In my years of watching the NFL, from ’99 until now, I haven’t seen a running back dominate the way Adrian Peterson is doing now. Of course Shaun Alexander and LaDanian Tomlinson‘s seasons come to mind, but they both had quality quarterbacks in Matt Hasselbeck and Philip Rivers to take some pressure off of them. Ponder fails in comparison to those two. Then there was Chris Johnson‘s 2000-yard season back in 2009, but he was overshadowed by rookie quarterback Vince Young leading his team to the playoffs after Kerry Collins lost all 6 games as a starter.
A midst all of the this, he’s returning from an ACL injury.
Despite what he’s doing the odds are against him to win the MVP award. The odds are against him. When Peyton won two of his MVP’s, it was the same year Chris Johnson and Jamal Lewis rushed for 2000 yards. Eric Dickerson didn’t even win MVP the year he set the all-time record in ’84; Dan Marino did.
And even Adrian Peterson acknowledges his chances aren’t likely as he spoke to the Star Tribune about wanting to win the MVP despite a league-quarterback bias.
“The MVP, man, that’s something that I’ve always wanted to grab. I work hard. I want to be the best player to play this game, so with that, MVP awards come,” Peterson said. “But I know this league and how it is, man. They’re kind of biased to the quarterback, which is unfortunate. They make it hard for other players to win it, but I will.”
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Whether AP will be able to defy the odds and win an award no other position besides quarterback has won since 2006 isn’t up to him. These last two weeks will be a chance to separate himself from the pack and making the playoffs may be the icing on the cake for him.
But if we’re talking the “most valuable” player of the 2012-2013 NFL season, as good as Brady, Manning, Matt Ryan or any other quarterback have been, this should be Peterson’s award.
MVP Rankings as of Week 15
1) RB Adrian Peterson, MIN
2) QB Tom Brady, NE
3) QB Peyton Manning, DEN
4) DE J.J. Watt, HOU
5) QB Matt Ryan, ATL
Honorable Mentions: DE Aldon Smith, SF; QB Robert Griffin III, WAS; QB Aaron Rodgers, GB