Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Peyton Manning is looking like an MVP again; who else?
And Manning's second-half magic provided a fitting comeback within his own remarkable return from four surgical procedures on his neck.
"I felt like I was watching the Peyton from back in 2003 through 2009. His performance was spectacular," Manning's former offensive coordinator Tom Moore told USA TODAY Sports Tuesday. "Don't ever count Peyton Manning out."
Manning hit 13 of 14 passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns during his second-half clinic. He has 14 touchdowns and four interceptions, with three of those picks coming in one quarter of a Week 2 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
Manning's 21-yard TD strike Monday night to Brandon Stokley's fingertips, a beat ahead of cornerback Marcus Gilchrist, underscored that Manning is not only Comeback Player of the Year frontrunner, but he is the lead MVP candidate six weeks into the season. And if the race is close at the end, he will be a heavy sentimental favorite.
A look at the early MVP contenders:
QB Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
He now has 47 game-winning fourth-quarter drives, by the way.
Why he'll win: He is completing 67.8% of his passes and figures to get even better with his new cast.
Why he won't: He must cover for a defense that has issues against the run.
QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
The reigning league MVP answered critics with a six-touchdown torching of Houston's vaunted defense.
Why he will win: With 16 TDs and a league-best 105.4 rating, he's the game's most talented passer.
Why he won't win: The lack of a run game could haunt him on an off-day.
QB Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
He was the leader in the clubhouse until three INTs Sunday against a woeful Oakland Raiders secondary.
Why he'll win: He has lethal weapons in WRs Roddy White and Julio Jones and tight end Tony Gonzalez.
Why he won't: Under pressure, he's vulnerable to making poor decisions.
QB Eli Manning, New York Giants
The two-time Super Bowl MVP has never been a regular-season MVP, but he's still getting better at 31.
Why he will win: Ahmad Bradshaw's running has removed the need for all those comebacks.
Why he won't win: He'll never put up stratospheric numbers.
Leading candidates for other awards
Rookie of the Year: Redskins QB Robert Griffin III is the league's most exciting player, with 6 rushing scores, 5 passing TDs and only two interceptions.
Defensive Player of the Year: Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt leads the league with 9 1/2 sacks and has an uncanny knack for batting down passes.
Coach of the Year: Despite injuries, Giants coach Tom Coughlin and his defending Super Bowl champs made a statement by thrashing San Francisco.