Aaron Rodgers has topped the MVP Watch list five weeks in a row.
He's the clear, obvious favorite heading into the Green Bay Packers' bye week.
Without him, the Packers might be 3-4 or 2-5 instead of 7-0. But would they be as bad as the 0-7 Indianapolis Colts have been without Peyton Manning? Would they be getting blown out 62-7 the way Indy got blown out at New Orleans?
If the MVP award honors true value, then, surely Manning must factor into the discussion somewhere, no? I opened up the question Wednesday and promised to publish the most compelling responses here.
"Honestly, yeah, his absence from the Colts has done more harm to them than any other player has helped their own team," Steve Ebner wrote.
That opinion was in the clear minority.
"Ridiculous counter-factual," Karl McDonald wrote. "Is Dan Marino the MVP because of how bad the Dolphins are doing without him?"
"It's the Most Valuable PLAYER award," John M. Nicoletta wrote. "Peyton hasn't PLAYED. Thus, he's ineligible. No doubt his absence is significant, but if that were the criteria, Steve Hutchinson would have been named Seahawks MVP for the past six seasons!"
"If Peyton Manning merits MVP consideration, then I nominate Mike Singletary for Coach of the Year for not being in San Francisco," Jason Nawahine added. "Manning under center wasn't going to stop Drew Brees and the Saints from putting up a fifty-burger on that defense."
Even Paul Kuharsky, our AFC South representative, shot down the notion of Manning entering the MVP conversation.
"If Aaron Rodgers finishes the season with numbers anything close to what he’s on pace for, if the Packers roll to the top seed in the NFC, how could anyone in good conscience cast a vote for Manning over Rodgers?" he asked.
I get it and agree. There could be no justification for voting Manning over Rodgers. But I could see listing Manning, say, third on a ballot as a testament to his value.
The Patriots went 10-5 with Matt Cassel starting in 2008. The Packers nearly won at New England in Week 15 last season with Matt Flynn tossing three touchdown passes in his only start of the season. Manning's absence from the Colts' lineup has turned a perennial playoff team into a laughingstock. That might make him more valuable than any player in the league, whether or not he deserves consideration for the MVP award itself.