Continue in 10

Ranking Peyton Manning Among the 10 Greatest NFL MVPs of All Time

1 of 11

Ranking Peyton Manning Among the 10 Greatest NFL MVPs of All Time

Peyton Manning

The NFL's MVP award should go to the best player on a good team and be a player that the team could not win without. Peyton Manning has won the award five times, including the just-completed 2013 season. The Indianapolis Colts won an average of just over 10 games per year during Manning’s 14 years as the starter. Without Manning, as evidenced by the disastrous 2011 season, those Colts teams may have struggled to eclipse 10 wins during that entire period.

At the other end, consider the early 1990s Dallas Cowboys. Quarterback Troy Aikman never won an MVP during that period, because those teams would have won with almost anyone behind center. Ditto Joe Montana, who won but two MVPs, though, those San Francisco 49ers teams dominated football for the better part of a decade.

The MVP is given solely on the basis of regular season prowess, an item that skews the award to Manning. The theory behind the Colts’ many playoff disappointments is that the team was not sufficiently challenged during the regular year, especially late in the year, when Manning and other starters often sat out the games. The team was under-worked and over-matched when it met a battle-hardened quality opponent in the playoffs.

The Colts could not have won without Manning. Although they did win a playoff game with Tim Tebow, the Broncos would have probably not been in Super Bowl XLVIII without him. How does Manning compare to some other MVPs in seasons past?

2 of 11

10. Brett Favre, 1997

Brett Favre, 1997

Favre was a tough guy who hung in the pocket and led his team as much by example as he did by his play on the field.

3 of 11

9. Tom Brady, 2010

Tom Brady, 2010

Brady is the consummate elevate-those-around-you guy and the perfect quarterback for the Patriots' system.

4 of 11

8. Walter Payton, 1977

Walter Payton

With the exception of the 1985 Super Bowl run, the Chicago Bears didn't have much during Payton's career. But what they did have they largely owed to Payton.

5 of 11

7. Terrell Davis, 1998

Terrell Davis

Though his career was shortened by injury, Davis pushed those 1990s Broncos over the hump to the Lombardi Trophy.

6 of 11

6. Lawrence Taylor, 1986

Lawrence Taylor

Supposedly even coach Bill Parcells was afraid of Taylor. Just imagine how the guy on the other side of the ball felt.

7 of 11

5. Peyton Manning, 2013

Peyton Manning

Manning moved an average team to the Super Bowl.

8 of 11

4. John Elway, 1987

John Elway

Those Broncos Super Bowl teams would have been truly awful without Elway.

9 of 11

3. Johnny Unitas, 1967

Johnny Unitas

Unitas was the center of an early NFL powerhouse. Not only that, but he moved the NFL from the wishbone to a pass-oriented attack well before anyone knew what that meant.

10 of 11

2. Jim Brown, 1965

Jim Brown

In an era when teams simply did not win without a big back who could bang between the tackles, Brown fit the bill perfectly.

11 of 11

1. Emmitt Smith, 1993

Emmit Smith

That 1993 team started 0-2 and looked utterly lost without Smith but then won the Super Bowl at the end of the season. Enough said.