NFL New York Giants

Could Eli Manning Win the NFL MVP?

Quarterback Eli Manning is a member of the elite. He stamped his name within the collective during his outstanding 2011 campaign and capped it all off with his second Super Bowl MVP.

As Manning and the New York Giants look ahead to another hopeful season in 2012, the Giants gunslinger will need to be at the top of his game once again. The NFL has proven to be a tough league to repeat as champions—no team has done so since the New England Patriots did it in 2004—and the Giants’ schedule will only make it more difficult to achieve.

An MVP season from Manning, however, could ease things a bit for the defending Super Bowl champions.

Manning certainly has the ability to have such a season. He has made strides to progress every year since becoming the Giants starting quarterback in 2004. With a consistently improving pace, it would appear very possible Manning could top 5,000 yards passing and over 30 touchdowns through the air.

In each of the last five seasons, a quarterback has won the NFL MVP award and in four of those five seasons, the winner ranked within the top five in passing yards.

With returning superstars Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz (who combined for 158 receptions, 2,728 yards and 16 touchdowns last season), joined by rookies Rueben Randle and David Wilson, as well as free agent acquisition Martellus Bennett, Manning has the targets at his disposal to spread the ball around plenty in 2012 and rank near the top of the NFL once again in passing.

The Giants will be amongst the competition vying for position in the playoff race down the wire, but just as defensive plays decides championships, offense gets you into the postseason. Nearly every playoff team last season can testify to that fact, and the Giants—who once again have questions across the board in their defensive secondary—will depend on No. 10 to guide them to the postseason.

If an MVP award is in the cards for Manning, it will take much more than nine wins to get that done. The combined record of the NFL’s last five MVP’s is 71-9. Manning and the Giants’ record over the last five seasons? 49-31.

Fortunately, the Giants return much of the core of their team, though they still boast similarly strained offensive line and secondary units. Their young talent is rapidly improving and their veterans are vocal leaders on the field, who have been able to work with the coaching staff and keep the team in check.

Manning is at the top of his game, playing in his prime and surrounded by some of the best talent he has ever played with. His clutch prowess will keep him and the Giants in every game, and his always-developing passing ability should put them over in most of those matchups.

With a plethora of talent around him, a quarterback-friendly league and a burning desire to win, there is no reason to believe Manning can’t win the MVP.

Louis Musto is a New York Giants Featured Columnist for RantSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter @LouisMusto.