In most cases, a quarterback is usually the most valuable player based on the impact a player at that position has on the game. This season, the Denver Broncos quarterback did little to change that perception.
After missing the entire 2011 season due to neck injuries, Manning came through with one of the best years of his life. His completion percentage, passing yards, touchdowns and quarterback rating were all either career highs or second-best.
Even advanced statistics showed how great this season was for the future Hall of Famer. In total QBR, which rates everything a quarterback does to help his team win, Manning was first in the league by a significant margin.
As a result, he was able to lead the Broncos to a 13-3 record and the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
The only thing that stood in Manning's way of his fifth career MVP award was an incredible performance by Peterson.
After suffering a torn ACL and MCL at the end of last season, the Minnesota Vikings running back finished with 2,097 rushing yards, eight short of the NFL record.
It is difficult to assess which player is more valuable after two fantastic seasons, but the difference is how much Manning had to work with compared to Peterson.
This season, Denver had one of the best defenses in the league. The unit ranked fourth in points allowed, but it showed incredible balance as the third-best team in both passing and rushing yards allowed.
Behind NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate Von Miller and Pro Bowlers Elvis Dumervil and Champ Bailey, the defense was just as important to the team's success as the offense.
On offense, the Broncos were also more than just one man. Primarily, Manning was helped by Ryan Clady and the offensive line, which allowed the second-fewest sacks in the NFL.
With time to throw, he was able to find the sure-handed Eric Decker and super-athletic Demaryius Thomas. In fact, Thomas helped out more once the ball was in his hands, as he ranked fifth in the NFL in yards after the catch.
Denver is a young team that continues to get better and is now one of the more complete teams in the league. Without Manning, the squad certainly would have had plenty of success.
Even Tim Tebow was able to lead basically the same roster to a victory in the playoffs last season.
The same cannot necessarily be said about the Vikings. Without Peterson, it is a much different team.
While the running back was dominating defenses on the ground, he had little support in the air attack. The passing offense ranked second to last in the entire NFL.
Quarterback Christian Ponder only ranked 21st in the league in quarterback rating, and only Andrew Luck reached the playoffs with a lower rating.
Once Percy Harvin went down with an injury, there were few threats offensively for this team.
Defensively, the squad was only average. It ranked No. 14 in points allowed and No. 16 in yards allowed.
The fact that the Vikings were able to make the playoffs is incredibly impressive, and it showed how good of a year Peterson really had.
Both Manning and Peterson put together great seasons. However, the running back accomplished more with less help.
This alone was enough for Adrian Peterson to win his first career MVP award over Peyton Manning.