Brady. Peterson. Manning. All names synonymous with individual success, accolades and just flat out dominance. Now they all share the same stage in the rigorous MVP debate.
Tom Brady remained his usual dominant self once again, while Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson returned from serious injuries and played like they never left.
Brady was consistent throughout the season from a statistical standpoint, though his average Week 16 line against the Jaguars coupled with his loss to the 49ers a week prior may have hindered his chances at a third MVP award.
Manning developed an immediate rapport with his new teammates in Denver, posting his second highest seasonal numbers in passer rating and completion percentage in his storied career while leading the Broncos to the AFC's first seed in the playoffs.
Coming off a devastating ACL and MCL injury last season, Adrian Peterson returned and carried the Minnesota Vikings into the playoffs...literally. "All Day" rushed for the second highest total in league history, falling just nine yards shy of Eric Dickerson's all-time record.
In a year where records were either shattered or just shy of being broken, we cap off the 2012 NFL regular season by deeming the league's Most Valuable Player. Candidates, the stage is yours...
3.) Tom Brady, QB New England Patriots -- Odds of Winning: 20 to 1
Just another year at the office for Brady this season. The 13th year veteran from Michigan threw for 4,827 yards, 34 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. He even reminded us he is still capable of getting into the endzone himself, tallying a career-high four rushing touchdowns as well. One knock against Brady's MVP case is a pedestrian finish to his last three games, including four interceptions and a loss against San Francisco in a marquee matchup. The other knock is the resumes of his adversaries. Brady has shown no signs of slowing down and will once again be competing for the Lombardi trophy, but he won't be adding a third MVP to his resume, at least for this year.
2.) Peyton Manning, QB Denver Broncos -- Odds of Winning: 3 to 1
The NFL's favorite TV star shined with an all new cast in Mile High this season. Manning tossed 37 touchdowns, his most since 2004, as well as an outstanding 105.8 passer rating on 68.6% percent passing. Leading the Broncos to the playoffs would've been a good enough story, but Peyton went above and beyond to lock up home field for the Broncos in the postseason. Coming back from a neck injury is about as difficult for a quarterback as coming back from from a leg injury is for a running back. Unfortunately, the guy coming back from that leg injury is Adrian Peterson, who almost broke the rushing record. However, the final vote could go either way, and I'll explain why in a second.
1.) Adrian Peterson, HB Minnesota Vikings -- Odds of Winning: 2 to 1
AP had the entire nation, including the Packers defense, on the edge of their seats Sunday afternoon. And everyone, including the Packers defense who groaned for other reasons like their loss, let out a groan of disappointment when Peterson finished just nine yards shy of Eric Dickerson's rushing record (2,105 yards) to end the season. AP's total just might have been more impressive than Dickerson's as he rushed for 2,097 yards in 31 less carries. Dickerson averaged 5.6 yards per carry during his record-setting year in 1984, whereas Peterson averaged 6.0 yards per carry this season
Had AP broken the record as well as carried the Vikings into the playoffs, this MVP conversation would be a landslide in Peterson's favor. Does AP deserve MVP? Most people will tell you yes. Unfortunately, it isn't up to most people. Irony at it's finest for AP (Adrian Peterson) is that his MVP vote will be cast among the AP (the Associated Press). If the vote is based from a purely statistical standpoint. then Peterson should best Manning. But if both teams' records and accolades are taken into account, then we could be looking at Manning's NFL-record fifth MVP or even crazier, his second Co-MVP...with AP.