Thursday, December 20, 2012

NFL M.anning V.erus P.eterson

One will win, but who?
On Monday, I profiled the great play of the NFL rookie quarterbacks and while they have been great, these next guys I’ll be talking about are the cream of the crop. In case you happened to miss the title of this particular post, I really think the NFL MVP comes down to two guys. Sometimes things are just the way they are, but you still like to talk about or consider the other options, if only to confirm the right choice. The right choice IS Peterson or Manning. Manning or Peterson, if you prefer.

REAL TALK: “You have about as much of a shot of winning this award as I do, but you actually play and if I didn’t at least talk about you, I’d feel bad about it later.”
CODE: Honorable Mention

JJ Watt (Houston Texans, DE)
Team Record: (12-2)
Key Stats: 19.5 Sacks, 74 Total Tackles, 15 Pass Defended

Back To The Future is killing it at the box-office, The Cosby Show is America’s number one TV show, “That’s What Friends Are For” is the hottest song and I was born. All these things happened in 1986, which also happens to be the last time a defensive player won MVP. (Lawrence Taylor had to have one of the greatest defensive seasons of all time, at the time, to win the award. Offenses weren’t nearly as dynamic then and Taylor’s 20.5 sacks should be surpassed by both Watt and Aldon Smith.) The list of NFL MVPs is a "who's who" list that only reads quarterback and running back but if any guy on the defensive end of the ball had at least a case to be made it’s Watt.

Watt is good, but he won't win MVP.
Watt’s 19.5 sacks, 39 quarterback hits (almost 10 clear of the second guy) and 33 tackles for loss lead the NFL (10 clear of the second guy). He’s easily the most feared defender in the NFL right now and he’s the one guy the quarterback always looks for before the play starts. Each week during the NFL broadcasts of Texans’ games, the announcers are always talking about the crazy ways that teams try to prepare for him. Taking team assistants and having them wave tennis rackets and brooms to simulate Watt’s super human ability to bat passes down at the line of scrimmage.

The most unreal stat I found when researching Watt was this next one. Watt’s 15 passes defended easily leads all NFL defensive linemen, he’s in the top-ten of that stat and he’s the ONLY player among the league leaders that isn’t a cornerback or safety. You literally have to get to the 48th qualifier to find another position player outside of a cornerback or safety. (It’s London Fletcher at linebacker and he’s only at 9 passes defended.) Think about this, he’s the only guy in the top ten of a stat that’s dominated by players who’s job it is to always have passes thrown at them.

REAL TALK: “Yawn, You’re having another MVP caliber season but I think it’s technically illegal in at least four states to not mention you in any MVP discussion.”
CODE: 3rd in the Voting

Tom Brady (New England Patriots, QB)
Team Record: (10-4)
Key Stats: 4,276 PY (Passing Yards) 30 TDs 8 INTs

Talking about Tom Brady being a MVP candidate any year at this point is like talking about Jenna Haze being a candidate for “starlet” of the year. Her yearly “credentials” means she’ll always make a good choice. (If the reference has you a little lost Google “Jenna Haze”. But be warned, if you have Google Chrome or Safari use an “incognito” window or privacy browsing…. Hint, hint, wink, wink… ah screw it, she’s a porn star and her “work” is just as dependable and sterling as Brady’s is each year.) Before 2007, Tom Brady was a Hall of Fame QB that was an above average game manager that won Super Bowls on great defensive teams. He was like a much, much, much, MUCH better version of Troy Aikman or Terry Bradshaw. He wasn’t a “stats guy” just a really good QB that played better when it mattered and never made the big mistakes that killed his team. Like the 70's Steelers, the defensive was always the backbone of those Patriots teams and like those Bradshaw, Brady was good enough to not screw it up. Then he morphed into Peyton Manning. Putting up monster stats and becoming the headliner of the league’s most powerful offensive attack.

Brady is in typically MVP-form.
The key stats for QBs always seem to have Brady’s name in the top five and for good reason.  He’s one of only four QBs with 30 plus TDs and one of only two with less than 10 INTs. (I’ll be talking about that guy later.) Brady leads the league’s number one offense with a surgeon’s precision. New England’s 506 total points are almost 100 more than the next team. (Denver has 409 and another guy that I’ll be talking about later is leading them.) They’re also the only team in the league averaging over 30 points per game.

The quarterback has the ball in his hands more than anyone else, so you can say the team’s turnover differential is all on them. When QBs like Mark Sanchez are giving away INTs and fumbles like free candy, you have to realize that a team’s QB is almost in total control of his team’s turnover differential. New England’s plus 22 turnover differential is way clear of the next team in line, they’re the only team at 20 plus and if that’s all quarterback that means that’s all Tom Brady.

REAL TALK: “You’re probably the best player on the planet at you’re position and that alone will always make you a good choice as MVP even if other guys may be playing better.”
CODE: 2nd in the Voting

Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers, QB)
Team Record: (10-4)
Key Stats: 104.7 Passer Rating, 3,588 PY 32 TDs 8 INTs

I see a strange similarity between Aaron Rodgers and Michael Jordan. Wait a minute it’s going to make sense, just stay with me. I’m 26 years old, so I did get to see Michael Jordan play and I remember it. Michael Jordan could do things no other player in the league could do. The way he moved and the amazing feats of "grace in the air" he pulled off would leave you breathless. He put up amazing numbers and was always in the discussion for MVP. Even though he was clearly the best player in the league in 1992-93 and1996-97, he wasn’t the NBA MVP. You could have given him the award both of those years and no one would really complain. But that’s not what MVP is about. It’s about the best player that does the most to help his team win in that given year. (At least that’s what it’s about in my opinion.)

While he's been really good, Rodger's numbers
aren't as superhuman this year.
I saw at least three throws in the Green Bay game versus the Bears last week that I’m 100% sure only Rodgers could have made. The best was an amazing back shoulder throw for an eight-yard TD to James Jones. The DB was riding Jones’ back and the moment Jones turned his head, the ball was right there, in the only spot where Jones could get it and the DB couldn’t. The guy is simply the best thrower of the football on the planet. On the run throws, off balance throws, short throws, back shoulder throws, deep ball throws, breadbasket drop-in throws. The guy can make any throw at anytime. Remember that stat where I said only two guys have 30 plus TDs and less that 10 INTs? This is that other guy. His 104.7 passer rating leads the NFL and his 32 TDs are second.

He gets extra kudos because Rodgers shoulders the load on a team that would otherwise fall apart without him. The receivers are great but Green Bay’s running game has been about as useful as it would be if I were their starting running back. They have no balance, which means you should be able to stop them because you know they’re always going to be passing. That’s led to him being sacked a NFL high 45 times. When he drops back, he pretty much knows he’s going to get hit but he still gets the job done. The other guys right behind Rogers in sacks all have 14 plus INTs. It tells you those guys let the pressure get to them, it forces them into rushing passes and making careless mistakes. That means, Rodgers holds his own, gets up, comes back for more and still makes the right decision.

REAL TALK: “I have no idea how to separate you two, so I say let’s lock you guys in a shipping container with an old rusty pipe and whoever walks out wins the award.”
CODE: Tied for 1st in the Voting

Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos, QB)
Team Record (11-3)
Key Stats: 4,016 PY 31 TDs 10 INTs 67.9 Completion Percentage

Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings, RB)
Team Record (8-6)
Key Stats: 1,812 Rushing Yard, 6.3 Yards Per Carry, 11 TDs

When I started to do the research for each of the guys right above, this got a lot harder to do. Yes, cases CAN BE made for Rogers and Brady, but Peterson and Manning are the clear favorites for NFL MVP this year. (They just pass the "eye" test and the "this team wouldn't halfway look the same without this guy" test.) This is also the first time those same two guys are also the front-runners for NFL Comeback Player of the Year and it's helped elevate them in the MVP discussion. Their great play is being highlighted by the fact that each one is coming off major surgery in the off-season. Some predicted that neither man would even play at all, much less at THIS level.  For each strong case for Peterson and Manning, something can be said against each case, and cases can be made against those cases against them. (I know I’m confused too, but stay with me.)

For Manning: He’s led his team to nine straight wins, a division title, a first round bye and possibly the number one seed in the AFC playoffs. (It could happen. Houston is a game up in the win column and they hold the tie-breaker should they and Denver finish with the same record via a win over Denver in Week 3, but Houston finishes with the Vikings and Colts. Two teams fighting to just make the playoffs, while Denver is facing off against the Browns and the Chiefs. Two very winnable games.)
Manning has Denver primed for a Super Bowl run.

Against Manning: Tebow made the playoffs with the same team last year, so you know there’s talent on Denver’s roster. Of those nine wins in a row, only two were over teams with winning records. Cincinnati, always a “good” bad team lately but still a bad team. Baltimore, which is proving to be much worst than we all thought and they’re currently falling apart. Denver lost each of their games against “real” competition, Houston, Atlanta and New England.

Case against the “Case Against”(If that makes sense): A win is a win, no matter the opponent.  Manning is elevating the play of good players, making them great players and more PRODUCTIVE ON THE FIELD, something Tebow could never do. (Tebow does motivate players to play HARDER but that doesn’t mean they’re playing better.) The losses against “real” competition were in the beginning of the year, when Manning was finding himself and Denver wasn’t playing at nearly the level they are now.

For Peterson: In a league where we had three guys pass for 5,000 yards plus last year and "workload running backs" are going the way of the do-do bird, he’s leading the league in rushing, he’s about to eclipse 2,000 yards and he has a real chance at breaking the all time mark for rushing yards in a season. He’s almost single handedly keeping Minnesota in the playoff hunt and all this on a team where he’s the ONLY offensive threat.

Against Peterson: His team could very well miss the playoffs and that’s never good if you’re supposed to be the MVP. For all the yards that he’s rushed for, he only has 11 TDs and it doesn’t even lead the league.
In a few weeks, Peterson could be the NFL Single Season Rushing King.

Case against the “Case Against”: Peterson is saddled with one of the league’s worst QBs in Christian Ponder. Unlike the other players I’ve talked about, Peterson’s team didn’t make the playoffs last year and they weren’t expected to this year, so the fact they’re even "in the hunt" is something that can't be overlooked. While the touchdowns aren’t there, Peterson leads the league in yards per carry and runs of 20 yards plus with 20. The next guy in line only has 11. (IMPORTANT NOTE: Peterson is above Dickerson’s record pace in ALL the major categories for a RB at the same point in the season. More yards. 1,812 vs. 1,792. More yards per carry. 6.2 vs. 5.4 and tied with 11 TDs. Peterson’s trailing in one category however. He has 289 carries to Dickerson’s 326. He’s literally done MORE with LESS opportunities… In a passing league. I know, crazy.)

So there you have it, too close to call. Peterson’s lack of team success could ultimately hurt him as the voter fatigue could hurt Manning. (Manning already has four MVPs)

Lastly, I think my thoughts on who should win the comeback player could help decide who wins the MVP. To me, it’s all about what you’re coming back from. (I know Manning did miss all of last year and Peterson didn’t, but Peterson is still coming back from a season-ending injury and did it way quicker than we all thought. So they both are true candidates to receive the award to get that out of the way.) What’s more important to your overall quality of life, your neck or your knee? If you say knee look at it like this, I never saw anyone get killed in the movies by having their knee snapped. That being said, I’d rather have my knee worked on three times a year until the end of time, than have my neck worked on even once in life. One of these guys is coming back from that… four times… and twice in one year.

Thanks for reading and don't forget to subscribe and share the blog. Join in the discussion by leaving a comment below. Follow me on twitter @ParisLay. Until next time... Enjoy the View!


  1. @ Paris, this made me think a lot as I consider myself a sports enthusiast, as I tend to watch the same episode of sportscenter at least twice to make sure I get everything in! Having said that, I will say this: The drama of sports is the beauty in life sometimes. Competition breeds excellence. Sports is really a dumbed down version of combat is it not? There can only be one winner, and despite the many obstacles one must face, stats/facts do not lie. My brain tells me Peyton, my heart tells me Brady, and having just watched the 30 for 30 on Vincent "Bo" Jackson I cannot help but get inspired by seeing the work ethic and determination of the one mr. Peterson.

    Your stats/research are so on point and much love for that as it puts everything right on a plate for the picking...then there is the wildcard which until i read this, I hadn't put much stock into Watt-the man can play.

    Then there is the thorn in my side by the name of Aaron Rodgers, what a beast.

    But I think you are right. Peyton Manning.