Peyton Manning deserves to win the 2012 NFL MVP award.
Peyton Manning has earned the 2012 NFL MVP award.
It's easy to overlook what Manning has done in Denver with Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson chasing Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record less than a year after shredding his knee (h/t USA Today).
But it's Manning, who missed the entire 2011 season after undergoing multiple neck surgeries (h/t Fox Sports), that is worthy of the honor for the fifth time in his legendary career.
His name litters the passing leaderboards of the NFL, ranking fourth in passer rating (103.5), third in completion percentage (67.9) and touchdowns (31) and sixth in passing yardage (4,016 yards).
Of quarterbacks that have started all season long, Manning's 10 interceptions are the sixth fewest in the NFL.
He's put those numbers up despite playing with an unfamiliar group of players, one to which he needed to teach his system of changing plays and blocking schemes at the line while learning an entirely new playbook.
But the MVP award isn't simply about statistics alone.
He has made the players around him better, and I'm not the only one who thinks that's the case.
Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post asked former All-Pro safety John Lynch for his take on the MVP race, and Lynch couldn't gush enough about what Manning has done in Denver:
I've seen what he's done with this Broncos team this year, and it's simply amazing. Great players, most-valuable players, make everyone around them better. Peyton does that for everybody. I'm talking players, coaches and staff. He's raised the standard throughout that building. I mean, it's just like Magic Johnson, he makes everyone better.
The Magic Johnson reference is a brilliant one.
Manning is a magician with the football, hitting his receivers in stride and fitting the pigskin into openings so small that you are left scratching your head wondering how he just did that.
He has done everything that a player can do to earn the MVP award in 2012.
He'll pad his stats over the next two games to satisfy the crowd that isn't impressed with his numbers, finishing the season with more than 4,500 yards through the air and more than 35 passing touchdowns.
By the time the regular season comes to an end, nobody will be able to argue against this statement:
Peyton Manning has earned one for the thumb.
Rick Weiner is a member of B/R's Breaking News Team and a Featured Columnist covering all of MLB.