Peyton Manning: Commanding Performance vs. Bengals Will Assure Lead in MVP Race

Mike ShiekmanFeatured ColumnistNovember 4, 2012

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 28:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos audibles at the line during a game against the New Orleans Saints at Sports Authority Field Field at Mile High on October 28, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Peyton Manning has audibled his way into the MVP discussion, this time as a member of the Denver Broncos.

With the tougher end of the schedule behind him, one more maestro performance from Manning will vault him to the top of the MVP leaderboard.

There aren’t many standout seasons thus far that could stack up against past MVPs. Matt Ryan had been slinging his way into the top spot, but his Atlanta Falcons have been clawing their way to wins against mediocre competition. Meanwhile, their aggressive defense will take some of the credit away from Ryan’s improved year.

A player who takes his game to elite status gets preferential treatment from the eye test, so Ryan will get votes if he reverts to last season’s form at this point? How about the comeback kid who has brought himself back to a high level?

Manning has continued streaks that quarterbacks can only dream about:

#Broncos Peyton Manning has thrown 3+ TD in 4 straight games. That's his longest such single-season streak since 2004 (8 games)

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 29, 2012

He should coast past 4,000 yards and 35 touchdowns, at minimum. His touchdown-to-interception ratio is slightly above 4-1, also the best in the league. He leads the league in so many categories that you’d be sleeping by the time I finished.

Some will say Manning shouldn’t touch his fifth MVP award because this is what we’ve come to expect from him.

Were we talking about five-touchdown days when the Colts waived him?

When we were speculating whether Manning's arm still could throw deep after several neck surgeries, did we suspect he would ever own Monday Night Football again? What about fourth-quarter comebacks? He’s done it all in such a small sample in 2012, with almost certainly more to come.

The Broncos’ matchup with Cincinnati provides the platform for another Manning statement game saying that he’s not only back but can consistently pass at a high level.

Even in a trap game.

The Bengals boast the league's 16th-ranked pass defense, and Manning has torched them in the past. He's 7-0 against them in his career with 17 touchdowns and only three interceptions to boot.

Another win and a ridiculous day to go with it will get Manning closer to the award that he just can’t stop winning.