The 36-year-old signal-caller has been remarkable through the first two-thirds of the season, completing more than 67 percent of his passes and throwing for more than 3,000 yards and 26 touchdowns. Coming into Week 12, his passer rating (106.2) was second only to last year's MVP, Aaron Rodgers.
Despite the eye-popping numbers, how legitimate is Manning's case for a fifth MVP?
Let's take a look at what No. 18 has done so far in 2012 and analyze his award-winning potential.
Of course, in order to be considered the most valuable you have to have led your team to success. Rodgers led his Green Bay Packers to a 14-1 record (Rodgers sat out Week 17) a season ago.
In 2012, Manning has led the Broncos to a sizzling 8-3 start and has Denver poised to repeat as AFC West champions. In Manning's four MVP seasons, not once did his team finish with a worse record than 12-4. If Denver can finish 12-4 or better this season and host a playoff game, Manning will have to be considered as one of the most valuable.
After all, this same Broncos team finished 8-8 with the combination of Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow under center last season.
We've already discussed Manning's gaudy numbers, but they are no doubt key to determining his MVP potential.
In Manning's four previous MVP seasons, he averaged 4,331.5 passing yards and 34.5 touchdown passes. With five regular-season games still left to play, Manning is on pace to throw for more than 4,700 yards and nearly 40 touchdowns.
It's safe to say that the numbers suggest Manning should be walking away with the hardware at season's end. What makes Manning's output even more impressive, though, is the fact that he missed the entire 2011 season while recovering from neck surgery.
Making the Case
Is Peyton Manning your MVP favorite after 12 weeks?
It remains to be seen whether Manning can lead the Broncos to the AFC's best record or a first-round bye, but if he does, his numbers are outstanding enough to make him the MVP front-runner.
Although reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers could very well wind up with better numbers and more wins than Manning, his victory last season will make him an unpopular choice. Manning is the most recent MVP to win back-to-back awards. He did it twice in 2003-04 and 2008-09.
There is no doubt a solid MVP case to be made for Peyton Manning this season. Barring any surprises, everything is shaping up for the veteran to win the fifth of his career.
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