He's without question the New York Giants' most valuable player. He's a two-time Super Bowl MVP. But could Eli Manning win the National Football League's regular season MVP Award this year?
Last season, Manning threw for a career-high 4,933 yards and 29 touchdowns, but his ability to lead the Giants in crunch time elevated him to new heights. He led seven final-quarter comebacks, including two in the playoffs against the San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots. Finally, his game-winning drive late in Super Bowl XLVI cemented his status as an elite quarterback.
The only thing Manning hasn't done in his decorated NFL career is win the league's regular season MVP Award. But with a dynamic supporting cast on offense, he has a shot this year at taking home the hardware. So what would the Giants' signal-caller have to do in order to win the award?
Setting the StandardQuarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have combined to win the last five NFL MVP Awards. Rodgers won it last year, Brady captured the title in 2010 and 2007 and Eli's older brother won back-to-back MVPs in 2008 and 2009. Incidentally, not one of them threw for more yards in any of those season than Manning did last year. But there's more to it than that.
Last season, Rodgers tossed for 4,643 yards and 45 touchdowns against only six interceptions. In Brady's two MVP seasons, he averaged 4,353 yards and 43 TDs. Of course, that includes his record-breaking 2007 season in which he threw for 50 touchdowns with a completion percentage of 68.9. Finally, Peyton Manning averaged 4,251 yards passing and 30 touchdowns in his two MVP seasons. Can Manning match or exceed those type of numbers this season? He has a good shot.
Making the Case for ManningManning was ranked No. 31 in the NFL Network's recently released list of Top 100 Players. Interestingly, fans ranked Manning No. 11. I'm in agreement with the fans on this one. Manning is an elite quarterback and he's at the controls of a pass-happy offense. He has a chance to match and exceed his career numbers from last season and that would put him in the mix for the NFL MVP.
Based on the numbers of recent MVP winners, Manning most likely would have to throw for at least 4,500 yards, which easily is attainable, and between 35-40 touchdowns with less than 10 interceptions. The touchdowns total is feasible this year with receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks on the outside, but keeping the interceptions down will be a tough task. Manning has led the league in INTs twice (2007 and 2010). However, he did throw only 10 picks in 2008 and 14 in 2009.
Aside from the personal statistics, the Giants will have to win games. The combined regular season record of the last five MVP winners is 71-9. I know, the Giants were 9-7 last season. But the core of the team has returned for another run and Manning is in his prime. There's nothing stopping the Giants and there's nothing Manning can't do, including winning the NFL MVP Award.
Go ahead, tell me why he can't do it.
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer who proudly wears his Rodney Hampton jersey on Sundays during the football season. He grew up in Queens, N.Y. rooting for the Giants despite being surrounded by Jets fans. Adam follows back Giants fans on Twitter @PegCitySports.