Breaking Down the NFL MVP Race Heading into Week 15
With three games left on the schedule, though, there are a few players breathing down his neck for this prestigious honor.
When talking about which players deserve to win the MVP, I always ask myself this one simple question: "If this player were not on the team, would the team still be able to compete in the same way?"
Here's how I rank the five most valuable players in the NFL so far in 2012.
Feel free to agree or disagree with my findings in the comments section below.
5. Robert Griffin III
Rob Carr/Getty Images
The Washington Redskins would not be in the playoff hunt if Kirk Cousins or—God forbid—Rex Grossman was the team's starting quarterback.
Sure, Cousins pulled off a momentous couple of plays to spur the team's overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens in Week 14, but he's no RG3.
Griffin has the Redskins and their fans believing that the playoffs are possible this year.
Not only has he proven to be a phenomenal leader, but Griffin has also put up MVP-worthy stats, too. He has passed for 2,906 yards with 18 touchdowns and just four interceptions while rushing for 748 yards with six touchdowns.
4. Andrew Luck
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
It's hard to watch the Indianapolis Colts this season and believe that they only won two games a year ago.
Andrew Luck has turned things around much quicker than even the most optimistic Colts fan could have hoped when the team drafted him. He's led the Colts to a 9-4 record, and a playoff spot is all but assured at this point.
Furthermore, fourth-quarter, game-winning drives have become Luck's specialty, and it seems like he's putting the team on his back at the end of games on a weekly basis this season. For the record, Luck has engineered four fourth-quarter comebacks and six game-winning drives in 2012.
Without him, the Colts would likely have a record of 3-10.
3. Adrian Peterson
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
The Minnesota Vikings would have been eliminated from playoff contention before the midway point of the season if not for Adrian Peterson.
Not only has he kept his team in playoff contention this season, but "All Day" is treading where few running backs have ever ventured and has a chance to break Eric Dickerson's all-time record for most rushing yards in a single season.
Peterson needs 506 rushing yards in his next three games to break Dickerson's record.
In his past seven games (all of which were 100-plus yard performances) Peterson has rushed for 1,101 yards—an average of just over 157 yards per game.
If he can continue producing at this clip, he'll finish the season just short of Dickerson's record, but we won't care.
After all, it hasn't even been one year since he was carted off the field in Washington after destroying his knee.
2. Tom Brady
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Tom Brady has the New England Patriots rolling towards the playoffs on a monster winning streak. The team has won its last six games in a row, and after starting out the season with a record of 1-2, the Pats have won eight of their last nine games.
Brady hasn't been doing it all on his own, though. For the first time since Corey Dillon was on the roster, the Patriots feature a punishing running game that can control the clock and wear defenses down.
Still, when you consider that Brady continues to put up All-Pro numbers and keeps winning, despite losing both his elite tight ends at some point this season, you can't help but be amazed.
Brady has passed for 3,833 yards with 29 touchdowns and just four interceptions in 13 games.He's one of the best quarterbacks to have ever played the game, and his team will be one of the heavy favorites to win the Super Bowl this season.
1. Peyton Manning
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
There isn't a hotter team in the NFL than the Denver Broncos, and Peyton Manning has everything to do with their success.
Sure, Von Miller and the defense have developed into one of the better units in the league, but it's Manning's ability to marshal the troops like a war general that has this team rolling.
Manning's constant demand for perfection from himself and his teammates has transformed the Broncos into Super Bowl contenders, and right now, I wouldn't bet against him.
Manning's stats are top-notch, too. He's passed for 3,812 yards with 30 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Only Drew Brees has more touchdown passes than Manning this season, and he's been playing catch-up for most of the year.
Manning will likely finish the year with both the MVP trophy and the Comeback Player of the Year award. What he's done this season after four neck surgeries kept him out all of 2011 is nothing short of a miracle.