Another season is coming to an end, and yet again Peyton Manning is at the forefront of MVP talk.
That much we're used to, but the competition he's sure to receive from Drew Brees and Philip Rivers, amongst others, will have us all wondering who will be the NFL's best when voting time comes around.
Jim Caldwell didn't help by benching Manning in the 3rd of quarter of a game which the Colts were winning at the time.
Anyone else think that Caldwell didn't want the attention that comes with an undefeated season, just to potentially end up like the 2007 New England Patriots?
With a decade of scathing sports scandals, I wouldn't bet my life against it.
Seriously, the playoffs come with pressure anyway, so why try and turn down heat on your team that they will undoubtedly face by making them lose?
It just doesn't make sense. It's counterproductive.
Imagine going into an auto race and decelerating when you are in first place with two laps to go, simply because if you win everyone will expect you to win the championship.
What do you think is going to happen when you've won 14 races in a row and the racing playoffs are coming up soon? You're in first place, so you'll be expected to win anyway.
So why not just keep your feet on the gas and run past all competition you have in front of you? Isn't that what sports is about?
Bill Belichick didn't think twice about going for 16-0, and although his Pats lost in the Super Bowl in the biggest upset of the decade and possibly history, don't we still consider the Pats to be one of the best teams ever?
Maybe that thinking is why the Patriots have three rings to the Colts one.
Meanwhile, the MVP race is in full-force and in this part two of the MVP from 200 down to one, we countdown from 14 to one.
Can Manning make history and win his 4th despite his coaches benching, or will the pride of New Orleans, Drew Brees win his 1st?
14. The Cincinnati Bengals
This franchise has been through so much in a short period of time. They once were considered the most unlawful team in the league with multiple arrests.
Their franchise QB Carson Palmer had a debilitating knee injury, their misunderstood star Chad Johnson (I will NEVER call him that other crap) caused a stir when he demanded a trade.
Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer's wife passed away unexpectedly. WR Chris Henry also passed away unexpectedly. In the same season.
Despite these extremely tough events, the Bengals have been able to dig deep in themselves and win the AFC North and return to the playoffs. Best story in the league.
13. Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams
I feel so sorry for this guy that I will personally travel to St. Louis and lobby for him to be traded. To anyone. Please.
He has been the lone star in St. Louis for a while now and does nothing but go out every Sunday and give his body to that team, and get battered week in and out just to know he's going to lose.
Man that can't feel good. I know he gets a nice paycheck, but money can't buy W's on Sunday's.
Could you imagine if this guy wore #39 for the Pats instead of Laurence Maroney? Gives me fits to think about. Another great season for Jackson in '09.
12. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
MJD again has been the MVP of the struggling Jaguars, whose inconsistency on both sides of the ball will likely make them miss the playoffs.
Jones-Drew has rushed for over 1300 yards and has 15 TD's so far in 2009.
Yet another player in need of a new team or better players around him. Jack Del Rio should be on the hot seat, but nobody's talking about it.
Nevertheless, MJD continues to rack up successful seasons and give defenders hell. With his diminutive stature, we'll see how long he can keep it up.
These guys just keep doing the same thing to opposing teams: throwing and catching the ball all over the green and winning the AFC East.
Besides the Miami Dolphins fluke win of the AFC East last season, the Patriots have won it six out of seven years and have won it again in 2009.
Welker is a reception machine and Brady's security blanket when Moss either:
A. Doesn't want to play, or
B. Brady doesn't have time to wait for him to beat double-coverage, which he can do when he wants
Despite that fact Welker continues to get open and Moss keeps catching TD's. In other words, Welker does the work to get down the field and Moss gets the scores.
Don't believe me? Moss has 13 TD's, Welker has 4. Welker has 122 catches, Moss has 78. 'Nuff said.
Denver surprised us all starting the season 6-0 and an amazing victory against coach Josh McDaniels former boss, Bill Belichick. Well, let's just say a couple of wheels have fell off of the wagon since.
None of that has stopped Marshall from having another great season, even with the departure of Jay Cutler.
Cutler seems to be the one who was made by Marshall, as Cutler's play has fallen significantly but Marshall has 1,120 yards with a career high 10 TD's.
Marshall also broke Terrell Owens record for receptions in one game with 21. Brandon has cemented himself as one of the league's best.
Will he cause problems in the off-season again? If the Broncs miss the postseason, watch out.
9. DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
Mr. Jackson has been a complete nightmare for any defense he's faced this season.
He has 8 plays of over 50 yards or more, 60 catches for 1,120 yards, 9 TD's, 131 yards rushing with 1 TD, 432 punt return yards and 2 TD's.
His Eagles behind a youth movement of he, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy are 11-4 and riding a wave into the playoffs.
Jackson's signature "Jerk" dance after he scores has become a staple as we've saw him there often. Jackson has been the biggest deep threat in 2009.
And to think the Eagles drafted him to be a punt returner.
The week that Austin emerged with over 200 yards receiving and the game-winning score against the Kansas City Chiefs can now be seen as a season-saver.
Dallas is officially back in the playoffs, proof that they did not need Terrell Owens and Romo is the real deal at QB.
All of the talk about Romo not being able to win in December are silenced (2-2, win over previously undefeated Saints, playoff berth).
Austin and Romo have far more chemistry than Romo and Owens ever had without the weekly panic over what's going to be said, and Dallas has a chance to win the NFC East.
So much for America's Team being done and finished. Now only if Roy E. Williams can hold on to the ball.
7. Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub, Houston Texans
Many people expected the Texans to contend for a playoff spot. Had it not been for close losses to the Titans, Colts and Jaguars they would already have one.
They can attribute their success to the Schaub-Johnson combination. Schaub has passed for 4,467 yards and 27 TD's. Johnson has caught 95 balls for 1,504 yards and 9 TD's.
The prolific combo has the Texans at 8-7 and looking at a potential winning season.
At some point, though, this team is going to have to win double-digit games to keep coach Gary Kubiak's job.
6. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts
We give Peyton Manning lots of credit for the Colts consistent winning ways and deservedly so, but often Wayne is left out to dry.
He has been Manning's favorite target since Marvin Harrison declined and then was released, and was just as good when Harrison was there.
Wayne has another 1200-yard season, his 3rd in four years. He also has 10 TD's for the third time in his career.
If the Colts are to win another championship, Wayne will be instrumental to it.
5. Chris Johnson and Vince Young, Tennessee Titans
Even though Young laid a major Easter egg in a loss to the San Diego Chargers on Christmas Day, he still deserves a mound of credit for bringing the Titans through the ashes.
Combined with the NFL's leading rusher and eventual rushing champion Johnson, the Titans won seven out of nine games and put themselves squarely in playoff talk after starting 0-6.
I know Jeff Fisher is somewhere playing Sudoku and wondering what the Hell took him so long. Had he started Vince in Week Four against the Jags, things may be different.
Woulda, coulda, shoulda. Oh well, at least Johnson may crack 2,000 yards rushing. Something to build on for 2010.
Favre has shut us all up with his "I'm tired of everyone calling me old so I'm going to do my best Jay-Z impression and make fools out of every last one of you" impression.
He also has buried the "Favre just needs to hand the ball to Peterson and get out of the way" notion, by passing for 3,565 yards and 27 TD's to just 7 INT's.
Peterson in fact has had his least season through 14 games in his career, but does have 14 TD's and 1,235 yards which isn't shabby.
These two have made the Vikings a Super Bowl contender and will be a tough out for anyone in the playoffs.
All I have to say is if Aaron Rodgers has to come to Minnesota in January, watch out.
3. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Rivers is finally in the elite of NFL quarterbacks, somewhere he always knew he would end up, but believed he was there too early.
Vincent Jackson has emerged as a true #1 receiver and Rivers has made the right decisions and kept his emotions under control.
The way he has thrown the ball all season has been great to watch, and even with an inconsistent running game he still has managed to pass for over 4,000 yards with only 9 INT in 471 pass attempts.
His play has made the Charger offense downright fearful, and Rivers seems to just be hitting his stride.
If he continues his impressive play and keeps spinning and whipping his way around pass rushers, watch for him in February. (Sorry, Peyton)
2. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Another huge year for the pride of New Orleans.
The Saints picking Brees up was the single most influential roster move of the decade, and he has continued to make beautiful, accurate throws which has become a staple with Brees.
He doesn't have as much yards as he did a year ago, but still has managed to pass for 4,388 yards and a league-leading 34 TD's.
His Saints rocked the NFL by starting 13-0, only to lose to the Cowboys and the Bucs at home to be 13-2.
Brees has played well throughout, and if his Saints would've went undefeated I wonder if Brees would've been a lock for MVP honors.
1. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts- MVP of 2009
Manning has to win a record fourth MVP award. He has to have something clear over Tom Brady, right?
No, really Brady has more titles and post-season wins, and for that reason there is a contingent of people that believe Brady is better.
Despite the fact Manning has far more and better stats in virtually every category and more regular season wins.
If Manning wins this award which he should, he'll be the only NFL player to have won it four times.
His Colts started the season 14-0, may have been 15-0 had Caldwell not benched the starters in the third quarter, Manning has 33 TD's and has looked in control all year.
Unless the voters suddenly see black and gold at the last minute, or the Chargers wow them and wear the powder blues to end the season, Manning should be your MVP.
That does it, folks. Peyton Manning is your MVP, everyone can go home now. As for for your Super Bowl champion....