Peyton Manning is having a season for the ages, and as things stand at the halfway point, no other player can lay claim to being this season's MVP.
Manning, who last won the MVP award in 2009 as a member of the Indianapolis Colts, is already the only player to win that award four times, and unless his production suffers a healthy drop-off, he is going to win a fifth.
There is far more that goes into selecting an MVP than stats. However, when the stats are as overwhelmingly dominant as Manning's, it is almost impossible to look in any other direction:
Manning also leads the league in QBR and passer rating.
His 119.4 quarterback rating is higher than any he's posted for a season other than his remarkable 2004. In that season he threw 49 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and his rating was only slightly higher than it is now at 121.1. That mark is the highest rating for a season in NFL history.
There's more. Manning is on pace to set the single-season record in passing yards and touchdowns...by a lot.
Drew Brees holds the record for passing yards on the strength of the 5,476 he threw for in his epic 2011 season. Manning is on pace to throw for 5,838 yards.
As for touchdowns, he is set to rip the record back that Tom Brady stole from him when he threw for 50 in 2007. Manning is on pace to throw for 58.
The slacker doesn't lead the lead in completion percentage, however:
Before we start bashing Manning for his inefficiency in this area, it is worth noting that Drew Brees set the single-season record for completion percentage back in 2011 at 71.23.
The presentation of all of these stats is not to suggest that Manning only has individual numbers to help him claim another MVP. That is far from the case.
The Broncos are 7-1 and only the Kansas City Chiefs have a better record. Manning's leadership ability has also never been questioned. He works hard and inspires his teammates to try to be perfect.
Obviously, there is a lot of football to be played and projections are no guarantee on final numbers. Manning and the Broncos also don't face the easiest of schedules when it comes to the pass defenses they face:
|Denver Broncos Remaining 2013 Schedule|
|Week||Opponent||Pass Def. Ranking||Yards Allowed Per Pass Rank|
|10||at San Diego Chargers||27||31|
|11||Kansas City Chiefs||3||3|
|12||at New England Patriots||13||8|
|13||at Kansas City Chiefs||3||3|
|15||San Diego Chargers||27||31|
|16||at Houston Texans||1||5|
|17||at Oakland Raiders||25||27|
Still, Manning has built up a nice cushion in this race.
Brees has led the Saints to a 6-2 record and in most seasons, his 21 touchdowns and 2,672 passing yards at the midway point would have him in the lead for this award. This year, he's not all that close to the top.
In Indianapolis, Luck has the Colts at 6-2 and the second-year quarterback is making big plays at the right time. However, his 1,845 passing yards and 13 touchdowns leave him miles behind the man he replaced.
As for Jamaal Charles, I think he has the best shot at overtaking Manning. Not only does his team have a better record, but the Chiefs and Broncos will play twice. If the Chiefs win both while Charles shines and Manning struggles, he would be tough to overlook.
As it is now, his 725 rushing yards, 389 receiving yards and eight total touchdowns in nine games is impressive, but not enough to beat out Manning.
In fact, in 2009 Manning, won the MVP the year Chris Johnson set the NFL record from yards from scrimmage. Johnson received a total of zero votes for MVP that season.
At 37, Manning is turning in what could very well wind up being the best season of his career. While there is a still a lot of football left to be played before we start debating that, there is no debating Manning is hands down the MVP of the first half of the season.
Records via NFL.com.