Peyton Manning: Where Broncos QB Stands in MVP Race After Sunday's Win

Stephen SheehanCorrespondent IDecember 16, 2012

Peyton Manning has put together a great season, but he'll end up short in the MVP race.
Peyton Manning has put together a great season, but he'll end up short in the MVP race.Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Peyton Manning's return to the NFL has been a fantastic story, but the four-time NFL MVP will not add a fifth one to his Hall of Fame resume. 

He can thank Adrian Peterson for that. 

Despite putting up great numbers and leading the Denver Broncos to an AFC West title, Manning is human and Peterson is not. 

That's not a knock on what Manning's been able to do out west. 

After missing the entire 2011 season due to multiple neck surgeries, the end appeared to be near for the 11-time Pro Bowler. 

It just didn't seem right that perhaps the greatest quarterback of this generation would hang 'em up and call it quits after such a prolific career. 

While the Indianapolis Colts have done just fine by replacing Manning with No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck, the Broncos have to be thrilled with the way Manning has returned to form this season. 

Armed with two great young receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, Manning has led the Broncos to a stellar 11-3 record, including a convincing 34-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. 

In the 17-point victory, Manning threw for just 204 yards and one touchdown. Good numbers, but nothing great. 

For an MVP race that's wide open, you have to be excellent every week. 

Manning has been good and often great throughout the season, but both he and Tom Brady have to take a backseat to Peterson in the MVP race. 

The battle for Comeback Player of the Year will probably come down to Manning and Peterson, whose return from a torn ACL and MCL has been nothing short of a miracle. 

With second-year quarterback Christian Ponder struggling, Peterson has literally put the team on his back and kept the Vikings in playoff contention. 

Watching this guy run, it's impossible to believe that he's less than a year removed from shredding his knee. 

All Day is running against eight or nine men in the box and absolutely shredding defenses, and Peterson's quest to break Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record appears well within reach after he went off for 212 yards on 24 carries against the Rams Sunday. 

Even for guys like Aaron Rodgers or Brady, who have their teams in prime position for playoff runs, the MVP race is like watching Usain Bolt coast to a first-place finish while everyone else is sprinting for second.

Manning and his fellow crop of QBs simply can't match Peterson's video game-like pace. 

As good as Peyton's been, being human just won't cut it this year.