Why Peyton Manning Is the NFL MVP as the Season Enters Final Months

Dan MatneyContributor IIINovember 13, 2013

Nov 10, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA;  Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) calls a play at the line of scrimmage during the closing minute in the Broncos win over the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
CBS Sports

The 2013 NFL season has presented us with many viable MVP candidates. The current leader of the MVP race, Peyton Manning, is on pace to break his single-season passing touchdowns record (49), which he set in 2004 before it was broken by Tom Brady in 2007 with 50.

Manning, who was cut from the Indianapolis Colts in favor of a youth movement led by Andrew Luck, is on pace for a career year at the age of 37. Through nine games, Manning has thrown for 3,249 yards and 33 touchdowns with just six interceptions. He has also completed 71 percent of his passes.

According to ESPN, Manning is currently projected to finish the season with 5,776 passing yards and 59 touchdowns.

Another thing that can’t be forgotten is Manning’s output in the first game of the season. Against the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, Manning passed for 462 yards and seven touchdowns, which ties an NFL single-game record.

These numbers are nearly unheard of, especially from someone who is in their 16th season and had four serious neck procedures two seasons ago.

Manning came in second to Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson last season in MVP voting, mainly due to Peterson’s near-record-breaking rushing performance. With Peterson experiencing a dip in numbers and only a few other players in serious contention for the award, Manning’s chances of earning his fifth Most Valuable Player award are very high.

There is also Andrew Luck, who has led the Colts to victories over three of the NFL’s top teams and a division lead over the Tennessee Titans.

The Colts changed their offense into a power-rush-oriented offense, a system where a successful running game sets up holes in the passing game. The Colts believe that they have found their franchise running back in Trent Richardson. The Colts, who dealt a 2014 first-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for Richardson, haven’t seen the production they expected from him. Richardson has just 355 yards on the ground this year with two touchdowns, averaging three yards per carry.

Richardson’s inability to get anything going on a consistent basis has increased the pressure on Luck and it has given him more opportunities to throw the ball.

Adding in the fact that leading receiver Reggie Wayne went down with a torn ACL during the Colts victory over the Broncos, Luck has the potential to prove just how much he means to the Colts.

Luck has 2,198 passing yards this year, throwing 14 touchdowns and six interceptions in nine games. He also has 200 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

Luck’s numbers aren’t nearly as impressive as Manning’s, but Luck has found ways to win without a large statistical output. Luck’s 2013 resume includes impressive victories over the Seahawks, the 49ers, and the Manning-led Broncos in Week 7. If Luck is able to lead the Colts on a deep playoff run, he could be a very serious contender for the award. Even if that does happen, it seems a long shot for him to win the award over Manning.

Another player who could be a candidate for the award is Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

“Megatron” as he is also referred to has 53 receptions this season for 904 yards and nine touchdowns. Although he is over 1,000 yards away from breaking the single-season record that he set last season for receiving yards, he has increased his touchdown output, finding the end zone four more times in nine games this year than he did in 16 games in 2012.

Johnson’s impact on the Lions offense is nearly immeasurable. Although Detroit does have a good quarterback in Matt Stafford and a solid running back with Reggie Bush, its offense wouldn’t be ranked third in the league in passing yardage per game without the weekly contributions of Johnson.

In the one game that Johnson has missed this season, the Lions fell to the Green Bay Packers by a score of 22-9. In that game, Stafford managed to throw for just 262 yards, averaging 6.6 yards per attempt.

Johnson is considered a threat for the MVP award, but he has a small chance of beating Manning in the vote. Johnson is on track to have a phenomenal year, but his projected output as a receiver isn’t nearly the equivalent that Manning’s is for his position.

Prediction- Manning will win the award by a nearly unanimous decision. Luck and Johnson might be able to steal a vote of two from Manning, but nothing more.