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Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Manning facing stiff competition for MVP

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

For weeks, the prevailing wisdom in my mailbag, on my Facebook page and in tweets aimed my way was that if Peyton Manning could win with the weapons he’s used during an injury-plagued season, he’s be a shoo-in for his fifth MVP and his third in a row.

He may still get there, but heading into Week 11 games with his team at 6-3, he’s certainly facing stiff competition and has work to do to get there.

In the Colts’ last two games -- a loss at Philadelphia and a win over Cincinnati -- Manning posted passer ratings of 67.0 and 69.8.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time he was under 70 in back-to-back regular-season games was November 2007 and the time before that was November 1998, his rookie season.

Remarkably, as he threw no touchdowns and no interceptions against the Bengals, many of league's other quarterbacks posted phenomenal numbers.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the average passer rating for the week’s games was 96.3, the highest in league history in a week with at least five games.

Another MVP isn’t Manning’s primary concern, of course. Another Super Bowl is. If he plays the way he needs to for the Colts to win the AFC South and head into the playoffs, he’ll certainly be a top contender.

But I believe as of now, three others can also be in the running right up until the day ballots are due.
It’s too early to say, of course. But those who had things clinched up for Manning a couple of weeks ago were being premature.