With all due respect to players such as Matt Ryan, Adrian Peterson, Matt Schaub, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, when it's all said and done, the NFL's MVP Award is going to one of two people this season.
Either Peyton Manning, or Tom Brady.
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But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself here. First, allow me to explain why the other guys I mentioned are already out of the running.
For the most part, Matt Ryan had played well all season long. Then Sunday happened. Simply put, Ryan was awful, throwing 5, yes, 5 interceptions at home against the Cardinals. Atlanta may have won the game, but Ryan officially killed his hopes for the Most Valuable Player Award in the process. Guess how many quarterbacks have had a 5-interception game during the course of a season and went on to be named MVP that year? Try none.
Coming off of last season's injury, Adrian Peterson is having a monster year. But the fact of the matter is, this is a quarterback driven league, and he's at the wrong position at the wrong time. And while the Vikings have been a pleasant surprise in the NFC North, they're not going to make the postseason, which will kill any hopes AP has of taking home the prize.
Matt Schaub has had a very solid year for the 9-1 Texans. In fact, he just lit up the Jags defense to the tune of 527 yards and 5 scores on Sunday. However, Houston is one of the better running teams in the league, and Arian Foster is going to take a lot of potential yards and touchdowns away from Schaub. In the end, his numbers won't stack up with the Manning's, Brady's and Brees' of the world, and that will ultimately be his undoing in the race.
Once again, Drew Brees is putting up big numbers, but the problem is, the Saints are just a .500 team. Granted, they started 0-4 and have since gone 5-1, but they may have dug themselves too deep of a hole at the start of the season to make the playoffs, and if they don't get in, Brees has no shot. And on a side note, if he couldn't win the award last year when he threw for nearly 5,500 yards, it's probably not going to matter what kind of numbers he puts up this year.
Aaron Rodgers is somewhat in the same boat as Brees. He's putting up good numbers yet again, but his team has already lost 2 more games than they lost all of last season, and Rodgers has already equalled his interception total of a year ago. Also, Rodgers was putting up huge stats week-in and week-out last season, and that hasn't been the case in 2012. Aside from big games against Houston and St. Louis, his numbers have been pretty pedestrian by last year's standards. Point being, when you set the bar that high, if you don't continue to play at that level, you get lost in the shuffle among the other elite quarterbacks around the league. That's exactly what has happened with last season's MVP.
Which brings us to our main event -- Peyton vs. Tom.
This all seems very familiar.
And why shouldn't it? After all, these are the guys that have defined the most glorified position in all of sports for the last decade.
Well, they're going to define the MVP Award this time around.
Looking at the numbers, it's currently a wash. Peyton has the edge in quarterback rating (106.2 to 102.5), while Brady has the advantage in total QBR (81.6 to 80.6). Yards are nearly identical (Manning: 2,975/Brady: 2,976), and while Peyton has thrown a few more touchdown passes (24 to 21), Brady has thrown 4 fewer interceptions (7 to 3). Both teams currently sit atop their divisions with the same 7-3 record, but the Pats hold the tie-breaking advantage in that they beat the Broncos head-to-head back in Week 5, 31-21.
It's also worth mentioning that moving forward, both Manning and Brady will be without key cogs of their offense, with running back Willis McGahee tearing his MCL and tight end Rob Gronkowski breaking his forearm. Which means -- both quarterbacks will have to take their games to an even higher level to help make up the difference.
That's a scary thought, but one we've all come to expect.
So enjoy it while you can, football fans. These two greats won't be around forever.
Peyton vs. Tom, one more time. Would we want it any other way?