NFL Denver Broncos

Ranking Peyton Manning’s 5 NFL MVP Seasons

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Ranking Peyton Manning's 5 NFL MVP Seasons

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

If you measured the best of the best in the NFL by the number of MVP awards won, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning would unquestionably be the best player of all time. After all, Manning has won five MVP awards, including the 2013 honor for his record-breaking season. No one else in league history has even won four, let alone five.

But MVP awards aren't usually how the greatest of all time is measured. The next criteria is usually the number of Super Bowls a player has won. Of course, as we saw again on Sunday night in Super Bowl XLVIII, Manning has now come up short in two of his three opportunities on the grandest stage in the sport. He'll never be thought of in the same way as Dan Marino thanks to his win with the Indianapolis Colts over the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI, but a loss three years later to the New Orleans Saints and Sunday's humiliating 43-8 demolition at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks still leave Manning's legacy a bit clouded, no matter how many passing records he sets.

But what has been his best season? This is a tough question to answer. For starters, we'll just consider the five seasons in which Manning has won the MVP. Ironically, that eliminates Manning's championship season of 2006, when San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson won the award. That said, it does include some of the best seasons any quarterback has ever had in the history of the NFL. Here are Manning's five MVP seasons, ranked in order.

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5. 2008 With the Indianapolis Colts

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In Manning's 11th season, he captured the MVP for a team that went 12-4 but lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Chargers. Manning threw for 4,002 yards with 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Manning was sacked only 14 times all season (less than once per game) and was fifth in the league in touchdown passes and passer rating (95.0).

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4. 2009 With the Indianapolis Colts

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Manning won the second of back-to-back NFL MVP awards for the second time in his career in 2009, something no other player has ever done. Manning increased his passing yardage from 2008 to 2009 by almost 13 percent, throwing for 4,500 yards to go with 33 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He just missed hitting a quarterback rating of 100, finishing at 99.9. The Colts won the AFC South by five games, going 14-2, but lost in the Super Bowl to New Orleans.

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3. 2003 With the Indianapolis Colts

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Still just 27-years old in 2003, Manning won his first NFL MVP award by leading the league with 4,267 passing yards and a 67 percent completion percentage. He threw 29 touchdowns with only 10 interceptions, leading the Colts to 12-4 record. However, Indianapolis lost the AFC Championship Game to the New England Patriots.

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2. 2013 With the Denver Broncos

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It'll perhaps be a little difficult for many to see Manning's 2013 season here especially given that the MVP voting is done based only on the regular season, but rings do matter. In the end, Manning and the Broncos played their worst game on the biggest stage. Despite setting NFL records with 55 touchdown passes and 5,477 passing yards, it's hard to say that this was Manning's best MVP season given how it ended.

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1. 2004 With the Indianapolis Colts

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Granted, Manning didn't win a Super Bowl ring in 2004, either. He saw his season end that year with a loss to New England in the AFC Divisional round, but that was also in the midst of the Patriots' mini-dynasty. In 2004, Manning threw for 49 touchdowns and 4,557 yards with only 10 interceptions at a time where he didn't quarterback the AFC's most dominant team. His numbers may have been better in 2013, but he had a better team around him. His work in 2004 is more impressive than what he did in 2013, even though neither season ended with an NFL championship.