Peyton Manning or Adrian Peterson for NFL MVP?

Brace Hemmelgarn-Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

When the NFL MVP award conversation comes up, there are really only two players left that you can make a legitimate case for: Peyton Manning or Adrian Peterson.

Both players are having tremendous seasons and both are coming off of career-threatening injuries. While I was confident both guys would return and play well, I certainly didn’t predict the season either is having.

Let’s take a look at the case for both players to win MVP:

Case for Manning

Remember back in the early weeks of the season when people were saying that Peyton didn’t look right and that his arm strength was going to be an issue? They were disrespectful to one of the all-time greats and I didn’t like it. All the guy needed was a few games to get his feet back under him after not playing in over a year–not to mention he was playing for a new team for the first time in his career.

The Peyton doubters were dead wrong.

Manning has returned to his prior form in 2012 without a doubt. He’s completing 68 percent of his passes while tossing for 3,502 yards and 29 touchdowns. He holds are QBR of 104.6 and he’s only thrown nine interceptions. He’s easily going to exceed 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns for the seventh time in his career.

The Denver Broncos also aren’t doing so bad with Manning at the helm. The quarterback has his team in position to battle for a first round bye in the playoffs as a No. 2 seed, and at worst hosting a wild-card game.

Not too shabby for a guy with “arm strength problems.” Give me a break!

Case for Peterson

We all know the story: Peterson returns for opening week just eight months removed from reconstructive knee surgery only to not miss a beat and retain his position as the league’s best running back.

The crazy thing is, he might even be better than before the surgery. His 1,446 rushing yards lead the league by far (+308).

No one has ever seen anything like this in professional sports. To suffer the injury he did, return to the game and unquestionably still be the best at he does is remarkable and inspiring.

Peterson is the Minnesota Vikings offense right now. Without him, they would likely be right back where they were in 2011. Instead, they’re still very much in the playoff picture with four weeks left to go.

It’s hard to say anyone is more valuable to their team than AP.

Winner?

If the season ended today, my guess is that Manning would win the award. Recent history shows that quarterbacks are much more likely to earn the honor. But I don’t think you can rule Peterson out just yet. If he can somehow carry the Vikings into the playoffs, some voters could be swayed. However, the smart money is on Manning.

Follow Andrew Fisher on Twitter @the_realfish


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