A couple of weeks ago, I handicapped the MVP race. Let’s see how that’s worked out.
1. Peyton Manning
What he had to do: Go 16-0 and/or break the completion percentage record
What he has done in the last three games: 3-0, 61%, 96.0 rating, 9 TDs 4 INT, had a huge game on national TV in which he threw a long game winning TD pass
What he has left to do: He needs to play a good game this week. The Jets have possibly the best pass defense in the NFL, so it could be tough to post numbers. As long as Manning plays reasonably well and the Colts get the win, the MVP has to be his. If Indy goes 16-0, the award is Manning’s independent of what anyone else does.
2. Drew Brees
What he had to do: Finish 16-0
What he has done in the last three games: 2-1, 70.9%, 101.4 rating, 6 TDs, 2 INT, had a mediocre game on national TV in which he couldn’t lead the game tying drive at the end.
What he has left to do: Hope Manning loses, post huge numbers. He’s not out of it, just because he’s popular and “Manning Fatigue” is a real issue with voters. 15-1 and taking the yardage title from Manning could do it. Now that the Saints need just a win to clinch home field throughout, it will be interesting to see how much he plays in the final week of the season.
3. Phil Rivers
What he had to do: Wasn’t on the list, because he had no real shot to win (still doesn’t)
What he has done in the last three games: 3-0, 66.3%, 107.3 rating, 6 TDs, 3 INT, big game winning drives in high profile games against Dallas and Cincinnati.
What he has left do: Throw for 1000 yards and 10 TDs in his final two games. Rivers is this high on the list because he’s the guy everyone loves to say, “Why isn’t Phil Rivers on MVP lists?” even though he is on every MVP list. His candidacy is rock solid statistically and philosophically. He has carried the Chargers. Working against him is that there are two other QBs with identical numbers, better records, whose teams are just as dependent on them, and Brees and Manning aren’t giant douches.
4. Brett Favre
What he had to do: Keep his rating over 105, TD/INT ratio of 2:1, go 4-1
What he has done: 1-2, 62.7%, 76.1 rating, 3 TDs, 4 INT
What he has to do: Bribe people. Last night’s game with Carolina sealed the deal. His coach tried to bench him. Um, you can’t be an MVP if your coach tries to bench you. A mediocre team took the run away from the Vikings and dared them to beat them with Favre. He could not do it. Three weeks ago he was the odds on favorite, but I can’t see him getting more than a vote or two now. He’s fading fast, and the Vikings might wind up in the #3 slot. The Favre experiment might yet end badly in Minnesota.
5. Chris Johnson
What he had to do: Titans needed to win 10 games, he needed to hit 2000 yards rushing
What he has done: 2-1, 334 yards, 4.0 YPC, 11 catches 152 yards, 3 total TDs
What he has to do: 500 yards, 2 wins, make the playoffs, hope Manning loses a game. 500 yards over his final two games would give Johnson the all time single season rushing record. It would be insane production and if it also coincided with the Titans making the playoffs, it would be impossible to argue against him. He is that team.