- Kevin Seifert, NFL Nation
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Someone -- Peyton Manning? Adrian Peterson? Tom Brady? -- is ending his fifth week as the NFL's 2012 MVP. The Associated Press wrapped up its voting shortly after the end of the regular season, but the announcement has been held until Saturday night's NFL Honors award show in New Orleans.
We spent plenty of time during the season discussing Peterson's MVP candidacy and the likelihood that he could become the third Minnesota Vikings player ever to win the award. (Alan Page and Fran Tarkenton were the others.) My initial thought was that today's game makes it awfully difficult for a non-quarterback to win the award, but that argument became more difficult to justify as Peterson's record-breaking season continued.
If you view the MVP as the player who provided most value to his team, and thus increased its chances for winning, you had to at least recognize what we discussed after Week 14. In short, Peterson's production wasn't much different in the Vikings' wins and losses through their first 13 games. From a statistical standpoint at least, those games turned more clearly on the performance of quarterback Christian Ponder.
That delineation didn't change thereafter. Peterson rushed for a total of 651 yards over the Vikings' final four regular-season games, all victories the Vikings needed to reach the playoffs. Many of you would argue that Peterson's elite-level production gave the Vikings a chance to win every game, and all they needed was for Ponder to play on a level higher than terrible. So it's worth noting that in the Vikings' 4-0 conclusion, Ponder had the NFL's second-best Total Quarterback Rating (QBR). Ponder played a significant role in those victories, regardless of the sentiment Peterson engendered given his comeback from knee surgery.
In the end, I'm glad I didn't have a vote. It's so easy to overthink these situations. Manning was the primary catalyst for the Denver Broncos clinching the AFC's No. 1 seed in the postseason, and remember, the voting cuts off before the playoffs begin. You can make justifiable arguments for both players, and we'll see Saturday night where the majority of voters landed.
You would have to figure that Manning and Peterson will be in contention for two other awards as well: The Offensive Player of the Year (OPAY) and Comeback Player of the Year. Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson should also be in the discussion for OPAY, but that might be the only action for the NFC North unless Vikings coach Leslie Frazier sneaks into the Coach of the Year debate.
I'll be on the blog Saturday evening for the Pro Football Hall of Fame announcement, and I'll stick around through the early evening for the NFL Honors. See you then.
13hEric D. Williams