Re-Ranking the NFL MVP Race as Adrian Peterson Continues Monster Season

Jesse Reed@@JesseReed78Correspondent IDecember 17, 2012

Re-Ranking the NFL MVP Race as Adrian Peterson Continues Monster Season

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    Adrian Peterson is making a furious push towards Eric Dickerson's record of 2,105 rushing yards in a single season, and his efforts have us re-thinking the NFL's MVP race as the season nears its end.

    Traditionally, quarterbacks win this award. 

    In the past 10 years, quarterbacks have won eight times, while running backs have won twice—Shaun Alexander in 2005 and LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006.

    When Alexander won it, he rushed for 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns. He was never much of a pass-catching threat out of the backfield, and he only had 15 receptions for 78 yards and one touchdown in 2005. The league's best passers that season in terms of scoring were Carson Palmer and Peyton Manning, with 32 and 28 touchdowns, respectively.

    When Tomlinson won it the next year, he rushed for 1,815 yards and 28 touchdowns. He also caught 56 passes for 508 yards and three touchdowns. Manning and Palmer were once again the top quarterbacks in terms of touchdowns, with 31 and 28, respectively.

    To this point in 2012, Peterson has already rushed for 1,818 yards and 11 touchdowns. He, like Alexander before him, has never been a dangerous receiver out of the backfield, and he has caught 38 passes for just 211 yards and zero touchdowns so far this season. 

    So, how does Peterson compare to the other players worthy of MVP consideration after Week 15?

5. Matt Ryan: Quarterback, Atlanta Falcons

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    After the Atlanta Falcons annihilated the New York Giants in a game the Giants had to have in Week 15, Matt Ryan vaulted back up into consideration for this award.

    Ryan hit on over 82 percent of his passes this past Sunday, throwing for 270 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. This brings his seasonal totals up to 4,202 yards, 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

    Most importantly, though, is that Ryan's team is still atop the NFC with a gaudy record of 12-2, and it wouldn't have gotten there without his stellar play in 2012. 

4. Aaron Rodgers: Quarterback, Green Bay Packers

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    Don't look now, but Aaron Rodgers has the Green Bay Packers knocking on the door for the NFC's No. 2 seed with a record of 10-4. 

    This is even more impressive when you consider that the Packers lost three of their first five games. Since then, the team's only loss came on one of the New York Giants' "good" weeks at MetLife Stadium, and Rodgers has been quietly having one of the most impressive seasons of any quarterback in 2012.

    He's been without Greg Jennings for most of the season, and of late Jordy Nelson has been out with a gimpy hamstring. Still, Rodgers has found ways to keep his offense going—without the benefit of a running game—and has thrown 32 touchdowns with just eight interceptions.

    He leads the NFL with a passer rating of 104.7, and if the San Francisco 49ers lose to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 16 and the Packers win, they'll have the inside track on the No. 2 seed in the NFC and a first-round bye. 

3. Tom Brady: Quarterback, New England Patriots

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    Perhaps this is a tad reactionary, but seeing Tom Brady get eaten alive by the defense of the San Francisco 49ers for three quarters has caused me to drop him in the MVP rankings. 

    Sure, Brady managed to pass for 443 yards, but he only threw one touchdown and was picked off twice—at home, no less. 

    One game won't define his season, though, and Brady has been phenomenal for the Patriots for most of the year. His team is 10-4 and had won its last seven games before Week 15.

    Furthermore, Brady has passed for more yards than any other quarterback in the NFL not named Drew Brees and has thrown 30 touchdowns with just six interceptions. His team is one of the favorites to get to Super Bowl XLVII, and Brady has everything to do with it. 

2. Adrian Peterson: Running Back, Minnesota Vikings

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    Just like Adrian Peterson has been running away from defenders all season, he's beginning to run away with the NFL's MVP award. 

    But...

    The Minnesota Vikings need to get into the playoffs, and Peterson can't afford to let up in the team's final two games.

    Compared to the two running backs we looked at in the opening slide that won MVP awards in the past 10 years, Peterson doesn't come close to their scoring output. With only 11 touchdowns in 2012, he's going to have to break Eric Dickerson's record and carry his team into the playoffs to win this prestigious award.

1. Peyton Manning: Quarterback, Denver Broncos

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    Peyton Manning would win the NFL's MVP trophy if the season ended today.

    His team has ripped off nine straight wins, and there isn't a hotter team entering the final two weeks of the season than the Denver Broncos. Manning has complete control of the Broncos offense, and he's turned Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas into stars. 

    With over 4,000 passing yards, 31 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions, Manning has the Broncos offense running like a well-oiled machine, and if I had to pick one team from the AFC to make it to New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII, it would be the Broncos. 

    With two easy games left on the schedule against the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs, it's not unreasonable to assume the Broncos will finish the season with a record of 13-3, an 11-game winning streak and a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs. 

     

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