Peyton Manning has had a phenomenal season after missing all of 2011 recovering from surgery, but the lack of quality competition that the Denver Broncos quarterback has faced this year isn't helping his MVP chances.
During the Broncos' current nine-game winning streak, the combined record of their opponents is 50-76, which also includes six games against teams in last or second-to-last place in their division.
Denver has played five top-tier teams this season, and they are the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals. (The Baltimore Ravens are not a top-tier team in my opinion). The Broncos' record against those teams is 2-3.
Let's be clear, Manning has been incredible this season. He has thrown for 4,016 yards with 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
However, Manning does not deserve to win the MVP award when you consider the fact that 11 of the 16 games that the Broncos will play this season are against teams currently ranked in the bottom half of the league versus the pass. This also includes six games against teams currently in the bottom quarter of the NFL against the pass.
Manning has been an enormous part of the Broncos' success this season, but he hasn't been tested by many elite defenses.
Not only that, he has an elite defense helping his own team. The Broncos defense will be the reason the team fails in the playoffs or wins the Super Bowl.
Denver ranks eighth against the pass and second versus the run, and since Manning is getting most of the headlines this year, the Broncos defense isn't being given the credit they deserve for their brilliant play this season.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is the clear choice for NFL MVP thus far. He is having one of the all-time best seasons for a running back, and could break Eric Dickerson's single-season record for rushing yards (2,105) if he gains just 293 more yards.
Manning is having a good year too, but this isn't even the best season of his career.
Peterson plays on a team with the worst passing offense in the league. Opposing defenses know that if they stop Peterson, beating the Vikings won't be too difficult.
However, Peterson has still dominated despite having to play 10 games against teams ranked in the top half of the league in rushing defense.
Peterson's Vikings play in a tough division with two playoff contenders in the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, whereas Manning and the Broncos play in a division with three of the worst teams in the league.
If the Vikings had a balanced offense and a top defense like the Broncos, they might have the best record in the NFC right now. Peterson is the only reason why the Vikings are still in the NFC playoff race.
If you take away Manning from the Broncos, they are still a playoff caliber team. Just look at last year when Tim Tebow led Denver to the Divisional Round of the AFC playoffs. Without Peterson, Minnesota might have the word record in football.
Manning is obviously a top candidate for the MVP award and is having an amazing season, but Peterson deserves to win.