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Winner: RB Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
Cases Against Peterson
* Peterson may have put together the most impressive season ever (all things considered) by a running back, but the term "valuable" is important in "MVP." In theory, can a running back ever be as valuable as a quarterback? One could argue that Christian Ponder was more "valuable" to the Vikings winning games in 2012 as Peterson. In fact, the Vikings were 7-2 this season when Ponder finished a game with a passer rating over 80.0. Minnesota was just 6-4 when Peterson cracked 100 yards.
* The Vikings wouldn't have finished anywhere near 10-6 without Peterson, but what would the Packers' record have been without Aaron Rodgers? With no Rodgers or running game, the Packers might have won just a handful of games. What about in Denver? Peyton Manning helped add five wins to the Broncos' total in 2012. Both quarterbacks had seasons worthy of the MVP.
* Why not Andrew Luck? The Colts improved by nine wins in 2012, without adding much more than a handful of draft picks. Luck was the catalyst of drastic improvement, despite a defense ranked 21st in points and 26th in yards and an offensive line that was in the bottom third of the NFL. How do you quantify his "value"?
* There's a case for J.J. Watt, who might have put together the most impressive defensive season in recent memory. In fact, no defensive end in a 3-4 defense has ever had the kind of year Watt put together. He disrupted quarterbacks at a historic rate, stuffed the run and batted away more passes than any defensive lineman in history. His value to Houston was immeasurable.