Not bad eh? While many of you may be hoping that these are the odds of your team winning the Super Bowl, unfortunately they are not. These in fact, are the scores of each 10 Indianapolis Colts victories throughout this season. Take a look at those numbers. In fact, the Colts have failed to score less than two touchdowns only once this year (the 10-6 victory versus Cleveland).
Don’t forget though, this Colts team has Joseph Addai, the number 3 ranked running back going into this season. Oh wait a minute, he has only broken 100 yards rushing once this year.
Oh but they have the Jeff Saturday, the best center in the NFL. He’ll provide protection. Oh wait a minute, he missed 4 games this year.
Yes, but you have Marvin Harrison. The guy is a workhorse. Oh wait a minute, he has 40 less receptions than he had just two years ago. So how is this offense so good?
Two words: New Stadium. Oh and you can’t forget Peyton Manning. That guy is good too.
In fact, Mr. Manning has proved to be amongst the elite this year. In a league where defenses become increasingly more difficult each and every season, Peyton Manning has proved that iron-men still exist in today’s game. Having not missed a game EVER in his career, Manning displays the true leadership any successful team needs. Yet this Colts team started 4-4. How?
Starting center Jeff Saturday, arguably the player that Peyton has the most trust in, went down with a severe leg injury early in the season. The aforementioned Joseph Addai has proven that last year may very well have been a complete fluke, causing some doubt in the offensive system that head coach Tony Dungy has tried ever so diligently to develop. Throw in two surgeries for Peyton himself to the equation as well. Things were not positive for this franchise.
The AFC South is considered as one of the toughest divisions in all of football. In competition you have the Tennessee Titans, a team that up to last week was considered the most dominant offensive as well as defensive forces in the NFL. Alongside them stood the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team who entering the season looked to be on the rebound. While they did not exactly live up to their expectations so to speak, every game they’ve played has proven to be a difficult one for the opposition. Then of course are the Houston Texans, one of the rawest (yet effective) teams in the league. How could the Colts, with all the problems internally, exist with this division?
Simple. Leadership. Determination. Peyton Manning. Peyton has proven to be one of the most durable quarterbacks around, completing 364 passes thus far. This already has surpassed his total from last season, and he is on pace to break 2006′s total as well. His 12 interceptions are less than his total in 2007, and just over the amount from the Super Bowl winning 2006 team. Manning’s completion percentage is the highest it has been in four seasons, blowing away some other QB’s in the AFC as well in this category. His leadership at the line of scrimmage has stayed consistent, providing the necessary guidance to propel any strong NFL offense in tight situations.
Not only has Peyton continued with his solid game, but he has instituted two new threats, aside from the aging Marvin Harrison. Reggie Wayne has solidified himself as one of the league’s top threats to any defensive back, snagging 6 touchdowns thus far this season. This more than Manning’s old friend Stavin’ Marvin. Wayne is also on pace to have the second highest season in terms of receptions of his career, a statistic none would have thought possible just a year or so ago. The other offensive dominance can be found in Dallas Clark, the tight end.
Yes, you heard it right. The tight end. That guy who is supposed to sit there and block? Yeah him. Clark has far surpassed his career high in receptions, snagging in 71 through Week 16 of the 2008 season. Alongside that, Clark is tied with Reggie Wayne for the team lead in touchdown receptions with 6. Dallas has proven that even people like the tight end can be integrated into any NFL offense, all under the leadership of a fantastic quarterback.
With all of this in consideration, Peyton Manning is your NFL Offensive MVP. So you would think.
Instead, Peyton has sat in the back seat to other NFL men who remain behind center. Kurt Warner, the Arizona Cardinals QB, is getting the most MVP buzz. With the two best receivers in the league (no, there is no argument), Warner would be a shoe-in as the best quarterback in existence. However, Manning and Warner are both tied in touchdown passes this season, with 26. This with Peyton not having a true #2 receiver due to Harrison’s ineffectiveness. The momentum that will likely lead Warner to the award is the Cardinals first division title since the 70′s, in which case credit is deserved.
Another candidate for Most Valuable Player is New Orleans Saints captain Drew Brees, who himself has only 28 touchdown passes thus far (as mentioned before, Peyton is only two behind). Their QB Ratings are almost identical, yet Manning has more completions. Above all, one thing separates the two men. The Indianapolis Colts are in the playoffs. The New Orleans Saints are not. There is a reason it is called Most Valuable Player.
Lastly remains Eli Manning, Peyton’s younger brother. Unless this is the Oreo Dunking League, the two’s competition in this sense proves great difference. Eli’s New York Giants are one of the best teams in the NFC (maybe the best), while the Colts are one of the most effective in the AFC. Eli won last year’s Super Bowl, Peyton won two years ago. Yet Peyton simply blows away Eli’s numbers this year, leading him in QB rating, passing yards, completions, and touchdowns. The Colts have proved to be a stronger team of late over the New York Giants, yet Eli has gained more consideration for Big Blue’s superb start. The stats however tell the story.
The bottom line here is that Peyton Manning perhaps this year deserves the MVP award over any other year he has played. This includes the 49 touchdown year. With little running game and injuries, Manning gave this team a piggy-back ride. Now, as the Colts soar towards their 7th straight playoff appearance, the debate will remain open. In all likelihood, he will not win the prestigious award. When all is said and done though, Peyton will have come away with one of the most thirst-quenching seasons any quarterback has ever had.