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MVP watch: Warner, Manning reconsidered

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Colts coach Tony Dungy pretty much declared Peyton Manning the league MVP during an NFL Network interview following Indianapolis' victory over Jacksonville.

Manning was fourth on my unofficial ballot one week ago. Kurt Warner, with fatter stats and the Cardinals' first division title since 1975 in hand, was my leading candidate at that time. But with the Colts surging and the Cardinals having lost three of four, it's time to reassess.

Manning is willing the Colts to victory. His performance against the Jaguars was nearly flawless. The Colts have as many victories in their last eight games -- eight -- as the Cardinals have managed all season. While Warner's accomplishments remain impressive, particularly in the context of the Cardinals' recent history, Manning has the momentum. We'll see if that changes now that the Colts can't improve their playoff standing.

Warner could have a hard time regaining his momentum during a Week 16 game at New England. The matchups against the Patriots' injury-depleted defense favor Arizona, but other forces work against Warner. The weather figures to be cold and wet or icy. Receiver Anquan Boldin and running back J.J. Arrington might not play for the Cardinals. New England probably needs a victory to keep pace in the AFC East race.

The five-man ballot I proposed last week featured Warner, Drew Brees, Adrian Peterson, Manning and Jay Cutler. The updated version might fall closer to this order: Manning, Warner, Peterson, Brees and Cutler. But Warner needs a strong game to hold that second spot.