Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning changed teams and still managed to dominate. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson carried an offense on his back. Both returned from major injuries to do it.
In the end, they should split the MVP award.
It's not an unprecedented result. In 2003, Manning shared the league's top individual honor with Tennessee Titans star Steve McNair. In 1997, Brett Favre and Barry Sanders were both deemed worthy of the distinction.
Given what Manning and Peterson have accomplished, it's basically impossible to set them apart. Every point made for one player can be quickly countered in favor of the other guy. They both had truly remarkable seasons.
Persistent neck issues forced Manning to miss an entire season, which is amazing when you consider the legendary quarterback had never missed a single NFL game before that point. As you'd expect, there were obvious questions about his ability to return at an elite level.
Making matters even more complicated, the Colts drafted a new face of the franchise in Andrew Luck, which forced them to let go of Manning, who held that title for over a decade.
Amidst plenty of doubt, Manning didn't miss a beat. His relentless work ethic allowed him to get on the same page with his new receivers, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, and that allowed his numbers to impress as always.
Manning finished the regular season with the NFL's second-best quarterback rating of 105.8, which trails only his 49-touchdown 2004 season, and led the league in ESPN's Total QBR by a large margin.
Despite all the hurdles, he didn't miss a beat.
Then there's Peterson. He wasn't even on the MVP radar after six weeks. At that point, the dynamic back had only surpassed the 100-yard mark once and scored just two touchdowns. Certainly not award-winning numbers.
Starting in Week 7, when he carved up the Arizona Cardinals to the tune of 153 yards and a touchdown, Peterson was unstoppable. He was held below 100 yards just one time for the rest of the season, as the Vikings earned a playoff spot.
He ended the season with 2,097 yards rushing—eight off Eric Dickerson's record—which put him nearly 500 yards ahead of his closest competition. And he did it all less than one year after suffering a serious knee injury.
Furthermore, Peterson did it as the focal point of an offense that lacked playmakers around him. Opposing defenses knew they were going to get a steady dose of Peterson every week and still couldn't slow him down.
It's clear both Manning and Peterson had MVP-worthy seasons. If either one of them walks away with the award by himself, it will be well-deserved. But allowing them to share it is the best option.