January 4, 2014

Peyton Manning is the clear MVP, but will it be unanimous?

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning plays better than he, or anyone, ever has.

Peyton Manning will win his fifth MVP award this season. The Associated Press might as well rename the award for the Denver Broncos quarterback.

No other player ever has won it more than three times.

Manning, 37, played better this season than he did when he was 27. Or 32. He played better than he ever has, or anyone ever has.

Manning’s 55 touchdowns were five more than Tom Brady had in setting the NFL record in 2007. Manning’s 5,477 yards were one more than Drew Brees had in setting the NFL record in 2011. Manning’s nine 400-yard passing games were three better than Dan Marino had in 1984 in setting the NFL record and Manning had in 2004 in tying it.

Manning tied three other NFL records.

In 2012, the league began a full-blown awards show the night before the Super Bowl. It offered drama last year ,with Adrian Peterson and Manning both worthy of MVP, offensive player of the year and comeback player of the year awards.

Peterson won MVP and offensive player of the year awards. Manning won comeback player of the year.

It will be anticlimactic this year. The only questions will be: 1. Does Manning win unanimously? 2. Does Manning also win offensive player of the year?

Brady is the only player ever to win the award unanimously, getting all 50 votes in 2010.

Manning should win it unanimously this year, but LeSean McCoy, Philip Rivers, Brady and Jamaal Charles will receive consideration.

In 2004, Manning won both the MVP award and the offensive player of the year award. He could win both again this year. He should win both again this year.

Here is the ballot I submitted last week with other players I considered for each award:


Manning. Runner-up: None.

Offensive Player

of the Year

Manning. His numbers were just too good to not give him both awards. Runners-up: LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles.

Defensive Player

of the Year

Earl Thomas, S, Seattle: He was the best player on the best defense. The Texas ex had 100 tackles, five interceptions, two forced fumbles and eight passes defensed. Runners-up: Richard Sherman, Luke Kuechly.

Offensive Rookie

of the Year

Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay: He was the leading rookie rusher with 1,178 yards, ranking eighth overall, and he scored 11 touchdowns. His 1,435 yards from scrimmage ranked ninth in the NFL. Runner-up: Keenan Allen.

Defensive Rookie

of the Year

Kiko Alonso, LB, Buffalo: He was third in the NFL with 159 tackles and had two sacks, four interceptions, five passes defensed and a forced fumble. Alonso played all 1,070 plays. Sheldon Richardson played 80 percent of the snaps for the Jets. Runners-up: Richardson, Kenny Vaccaro.


Andy Reid, Kansas City: This was the toughest award, with at least four deserving candidates. But Reid took over the NFL’s worst team — albeit one with eight Pro Bowlers — and won nine more games than the Chiefs won last year. Runners-up: Chip Kelly, Ron Rivera, Bruce Arians.

Comeback Player

Brent Grimes, CB, Miami: Grimes, then with the Atlanta Falcons, tore his Achilles’ tendon last September. He signed a one-year, $5.5 million contract with the Dolphins, and in 2012, returned to being one of the top cornerbacks in football. Runners-up: Ryan Kalil, Darrelle Revis.


Here is the ballot I submitted:


WR: Calvin Johnson, Detroit. He had 1,492 yards, 329 of them against the Cowboys, and 12 touchdowns.

WR: Josh Gordon, Cleveland. He played with three quarterbacks, missed two games and still led the league in receiving yards (1,646) with his yards per game average (117.6) ranked sixth all-time.

TE: Jimmy Graham, New Orleans. He had 1,215 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns to lead all tight ends.

OT: Joe Thomas, Cleveland. He allowed 4.5 sacks and was penalized three times for holding.

OT: Tyron Smith, Dallas. He allowed only 1.5 sacks and was penalized once for holding, though a negated hold played a part in the Detroit loss.

OG: Louis Vasquez, Denver. He allowed no sacks and was penalized once for holding.

OG: Josh Sitton, Green Bay. He allowed 1.5 sacks and was penalized four times for holding.

C: Ryan Kalil, Carolina. He allowed one sack and had one hold.

QB: Peyton Manning, Denver. His numbers tell the story.

RB: LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia, He led the league in rushing (1,607) and yards from scrimmage (2,146).

RB: Jamaal Charles, Kansas City. His 1,980 yards from scrimmage were 36.6 percent of his team’s offense, and his 114 points were 26.5 percent of the Chiefs’ scoring.

FB: Mike Tolbert, Carolina. His 606 plays were far more than any other FB in the league, and the Panthers ranked 11th in rushing.

PK: Justin Tucker, Baltimore. He made 38 of 41 field goals, with his 61-yarder beating the Lions in Week 15.

KR: Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota. His 32.4 yards per kickoff return average led the league, and he scored two touchdowns.


DE: Robert Quinn, St. Louis. His 19 sacks ranked second in the NFL, and he had 33 quarterback hits and 23 tackles for loss.

DE: J.J. Watt, Houston. He had 10.5 sacks, 46 quarterback hits and 22 tackles for loss.

DT: Gerald McCoy, Tampa Bay. He had nine sacks, 20 quarterback hits and 15 tackles for loss.

DT: Ndamukong Suh, Detroit. He had 5.5 sacks, 18 quarterback hits and nine tackles for loss, and forced four interceptions with tipped passes or pressure.

OLB: Robert Mathis, Indianapolis. His 19.5 sacks led the league, and he had 21 quarterback hits and 14 tackles for loss.

OLB: Lavonte David, Tampa Bay. His 143 tackles ranked fifth in the NFL, and he had six sacks, 20 tackles for loss, five interceptions and two forced fumbles.

ILB: Luke Kuechly, Carolina. His 156 tackles ranked fourth in the NFL, and he had 10 tackles for loss, four interceptions and seven passes defensed.

ILB: Karlos Dansby, Arizona. He had 122 tackles, 6.5 sacks, a forced fumble, 19 passes defensed, four interceptions and two touchdowns.

CB: Richard Sherman, Seattle. He led the league in interceptions with eight and allowed 31 passes for 480 yards and two touchdowns, according to Pro Football Focus .

CB: Brent Grimes, Miami. He didn’t allow a touchdown and had four interceptions.

FS: Earl Thomas, Seattle. He had 100 tackles, five interceptions, eight passes defensed and two forced fumbles.

SS: Eric Berry, Kansas City. He allowed two touchdowns and intercepted three passes.

P: Johnny Hekker, St. Louis. He set an NFL record for net punting yards in a season with a 44.2-yard average.

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