Every football fan in America watched Peyton Manning completely torch the Baltimore Ravens on NFL's opening night. This performance will be the start of yet another MVP season for the legendary quarterback.
Against the defending Super Bowl champions, the Denver Broncos put up 49 points in a dominant win thanks to Manning's 462 passing yards and seven (!) touchdowns. According to ESPN Stats and Information, this tied an NFL record:
The feat had only been done five other times in history and no one has done it since 1969. SportsCenter put this mark in perspective:
Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight then pointed out that this could lead to a pretty ridiculous year:
While it is unlikely he keeps up this pace, there is reason to believe that this was not just a fluke. Manning comes into the year with as many weapons around him as he ever had in his career.
Last season, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker each had breakout years with over 1,000 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. Decker was second in the NFL in touchdowns, while Thomas emerged as a big-play threat with the second-most plays of over 20 yards.
These young players will be even better this season, even though their numbers might not be quite as high. The reason for that is the team will have even more targets through the air.
Wes Welker brings tons of experience as the perfect slot receiver after catching over 110 passes in five of the last six years. He proved with his two-touchdown performance on Thursday that he and Manning are already on the same page.
Meanwhile, tight end Julius Thomas is poised for a breakout season after totaling 110 yards and two touchdowns against the Ravens. The former basketball player has great athleticism and can become a constant threat in the red zone.
Even receiver Andre Caldwell got into the action with a touchdown reception in the opening win.
After totaling 4,659 passing yards and 37 touchdowns last season with a league-leading 68.6 completion percentage, Manning is set for an even better year this time around as he spreads the ball to his many targets.
This—along with playing against an easy schedule in the AFC West—will help give the Broncos one of the top offenses in the NFL as they finish with the best record in the league.
Of course, great stats alone do not make him the MVP, especially when voters take into consideration the talent around him. However, Manning is valuable based on the fact that he is one of the only quarterbacks in football that can bring all of the receivers together to make a great product.
The quarterback's intelligence, vision and passing accuracy allow him to get everyone the ball equally, something that backup Brock Osweiler would not be able to accomplish.
Additionally, the defense is certain to struggle this season without Von Miller for six games and without Elvis Dumervil since he signed with the Ravens. The unit gave up 27 points to Baltimore in the opening contest, and the Ravens lacked real receiving threats outside of Torrey Smith.
Manning will be forced to carry the team in high-scoring games many times throughout the year, proving that he is truly the most valuable player in the league.
After his seven-touchdown game, the veteran will become the early favorite to win the most prestigious individual award in the league. While there will be some challengers, no one will pass him on this list and he will win the fifth MVP of his career.
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