Peyton Manning is a lock to win the 2014 NFL MVP award.
That is, unless the Associated Press and its group of 50 voters from the media decides to simply not hand out the award this year.
That would be ludicrous considering Manning broke a plethora of awards in 2013, including the single-season record for touchdown passes (55), the single-season record for passing yards (5,477), the record for most points by a team (606) and the single-season record for most games with four or more touchdowns passes (9).
Got all that?
Manning may go on to choke in the postseason in an effort to be cool like the Kansas City Chiefs, but the award is his considering it is based on the regular season and the votes have already been cast.
Here are the guys who may get one vote in the contest. Or two.
Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers
Any votes with the name Philip Rivers scribbled on the sheet of paper (if that's how they do it these days) should de-facto go to San Diego Chargers head coach Mike McCoy.
McCoy is a miracle worker with quarterbacks—just look at what he was able to do with Tim Tebow as a member of the Denver Broncos two years ago.
So it should come as no surprise that Rivers is in the midst of a career renaissance. His numbers in 2013 dwarf those of his miserable 2012 campaign:
Not only did Rivers post nice stats, he helped to make a star out of rookie wideout Keenan Allen and helped Ryan Mathews look like a competent running back thanks to his keeping defenses honest.
Oh, and he led the Chargers to the playoffs.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Believe it or not, a running back can win the MVP award, too. In fact, look no further than 2012, when Adrian Peterson took home the award. However, it is a rare feat considering quarterbacks have won it 37 times, while running backs have just 18 to their trophy case.
Had Manning not gone and played like he was eight years younger this season (which may not even do his 2013 season justice), Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles would certainly be in the running for the award.
By now, we know that the Chiefs were frauds. But that epic postseason collapse against the Indianapolis Colts came while Charles was sidelined with an injury.
Not that it matters with votes having already been cast, but the point remains. We can keep to the regular season and still come up with the same point—Charles was a beast with 1,287 rushing yards and 12 scores to go with 70 receptions for 693 yards and seven more touchdowns.
Chiefs offensive lineman Jeff Allen summarized Charles' skill set in an apt manner, per the team's website:
"With Jamaal, you know all you have to do is get in front of a guy and he has the ability to break it." -Jeff Allen | http://t.co/3gQo2HwqYU— Kansas City Chiefs (@KCChiefs) December 17, 2013
Now add in the fact the Chiefs would have lost plenty of games in 2013 without his services, and it is clear Charles is a worthy addition to the MVP discussion.
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has not changed despite a whirlwind of factors surrounding him throughout the years. Nate Dunlevy summarizes this notion best:
Tom Brady didn't get "less clutch". Was a better QB in every possible way from 07-12. Caught some massively bad breaks instead of good ones.— Nate Dunlevy (@NateDunlevy) January 6, 2014
Brady has remained steadfast in his production over the years, but 2013 is perhaps the best example.
In 2012, the crew was Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Danny Woodhead. Brady threw for 4,827 yards, 34 scores and the Patriots went 12-4.
Biggest threat to Manning's MVP?
Fast forward to 2013. The above names are gone except for Gronkowski, who only appeared in a handful of contests. The supporting cast? Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and Shane Vereen.
With that cast, which includes two rookies, Brady threw for 4,343 yards, 25 scores and the Patriots again went 12-4.
Brady failed to get his team the top seed in the postseason, but the Patriots still arrive in style after a bye week with a quarterback who can take minimal talent around him and post great numbers.