New York Giants: If Giants Make Playoffs, Should Eli Manning Be League MVP?
It's unlikely. I'll admit that now. However, Eli Manning has had his best season yet despite the Giants' defense and running game being worse than ever, and he has been able to keep them just within reach of the playoffs.
Aaron Rodgers is the favorite for MVP, followed by players such as Tom Brady and Drew Brees, but Manning could be a dark horse candidate. He has exhibited many qualities this year reminiscent of an elite quarterback and top player and this slideshow examines what arguments Manning could have for league MVP if the Giants make the playoffs.
Though many like to say Manning was simply along for the ride when the Giants won the Super Bowl in 2007, he made his fair share of big plays during the game that helped seal a win for Big Blue. This season, Manning has shown his critics that he can carry the Giants on his back.
With a running game that is ranked worst in the league and a defense that has been disappointing compared to years past, Manning has somehow gotten much better despite many saying those were two components he relied on.
Manning has already led the Giants to five 4th quarter comebacks this season, and he helped them score a combined 63 4th quarter points in those games. Five of New York's six wins can be credited to Manning's leadership and coolness under pressure.
Aaron Rodgers, meanwhile, only has one 4th quarter comeback this season with a much better supporting cast, and if the Giants make the playoffs that will only help Manning's case by showing his leadership during the final weeks of the season.
Ok, so Rodgers has Manning clearly beat in the stat department:
Rodgers: 70.6 completion percentage, 3,844 yards, 37 TDs, 5 INTs
Manning: 62.4 completion percentage, 3,705 yards, 23 TDs, 11 INTs
However, Rodgers has not had to deal with an injury-plagued receiving core nor a lackluster offensive line. Manning has. Instead of the elite combo of Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley, Manning has Victor Cruz, Jake Ballard, Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks, the last two of whom have missed time due to injury.
Manning has made things happen with much worse players around him, showing that what is on paper does not tell the whole story. Rodgers is having an outstanding season but Manning has not been disappointing either and though he doesn't have the advantage stat-wise, he can still rack up yards and points. He also has four games left to make big things happen.
Disappointment Around Him
Eli Manning has had to deal with a lot of failure around him this season. For instance, Kareem McKenzie's missed block late in the 4th quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 11 caused Eagles defensive end Jason Babin to strip Manning, sealing an Eagles win.
That was just one of many instances of Eli's teammates letting him down. The Giants' receivers seem to alternate between making huge plays and dropping easy balls. On the season, Victor Cruz is catching 66 percent of passes thrown his way, Hakeem Nicks is catching only 59 percent, and Mario Manningham is catching just 53 percent. Those numbers don't seem terrible, unless you think about how Jordy Nelson is catching 76 percent of his balls and Greg Jennings is at 68 percent.
The Giants also have a pitiful running game this year. They are used to being able to rely on picking up yards on the ground, but this year they are averaging just 3.3 yards per carry and no Giant who has gotten a carry is averaging 4.0 yards or more.
Finally, the Giants lost linemen Rich Seubert and Shaun O'Hara this offseason and though Kareem McKenzie and Chris Snee have played pretty well, the rest of the offensive line is a mess. Players are too old, slow, or injured to be able to provide Manning some stability, but somehow he has still produced. If Aaron Rodgers switched places with Manning, Rodgers would definitely be humbled at least a bit.
Again, this is not definite but would be the X Factor in determining the league MVP. Eli's last minute heroics have accounted for five of the Giants' six wins and if he can come up big these last few games and get Big Blue to the playoffs, it would turn many heads.
The Packers have already clinched a playoff berth, but Aaron Rodgers has not had to deal with the schedule and circumstances Eli has. If Manning helps the Giants get a playoff berth, it will be through much tougher circumstances than Rodgers and the Packers.
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