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MVP Update: Week 15

The 2008 MVP race is officially insane.  Players are moving on and off my list at a dizzying pace.  ESPN’s top three candidates named just last week by the blog squad now seem quite lame

Who does that leave us with?  I’m still not buying the defensive players.  There are too many of them and it seems like there is a different hot name every week.  Polamalu did next to nothing yesterday so now we are hearing DeMarcus Ware and Joey Porter.  Next week it could be someone else.  Let those guys battle it out for DPOY.  Right or wrong, that’s how it is.  I’m looking at the vital offensive players who have been consistently great all season:

1.) Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
Stats: 1581 Yds, 9 TDs, 4.9 Avg, 19 Rec, 109 Yds
Team Record: 9-5, 1st place NFC North
Last Week: 28 carries, 165 Yds, 0 TDs in a win at Arizona
Remaining Games: ATL, NYG

Peterson is the sexy name right now.  He’s gone over 100 yards in 7 of the past 9 games.  His team is putting it together at the right time.  His quarterbacks are unreliable.  He has a great nickname in Purple Jesus.  His downside?  He isn’t a receiving threat and is only tenth in the league in rushing touchdowns.  I still think AP is better suited as offensive player of the year, but we shall see.  He has a very tough finishing schedule.  Look for the media to build up the game against Turner and the Falcons as the showdown for the MVP.  Or maybe just I will.  We will be rooting hard for Matt Ryan to throw touchdowns early and often on Sunday.  This might kill two birds with one stone: by cooling off the Vikes and further clouding Michael Turner’s case for MVP (see below).

2.) Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts
Stats: 23 TDs, 12 INTs, 3543 Yds, 90.3 Rating
Team Record: 10-4, 2nd place AFC South
Last week: 1 TD in a win over DET
Remaining Games: @Jax, TEN

Manning had a brilliant day on Sunday against the Lions, but I dropped him a spot because he broke the cardinal rule of MVPing: Score touchdowns.  The last couple weeks I have intentionally over-ranked him because I thought he would put up 6 or 8 touchdowns during this home stand.  He threw 4.  Good, but not great.  Early in the game Dallas Clark caught a ball at the one yard line and later Reggie Wayne went down at the one.  Rhodes and Simpson vultured 3 touchdowns.  Did those unlucky breaks combined with Manning’s selfless play spell the end of Manning’s MVP campaign?  Probably.

Peyton’s argument now rests on the media understanding that a player can dominate a 16-game slate without ever scoring 40 points or throwing 4 touchdowns.  Will the media grasp such a nuanced concept?  Some will, some won’t.  Manning’s last best hope is that he dominates the Jaguars on quasi-national television.  Another reason to be pessimistic?  Assuming he beats the Jags, he won’t play more than one series in Week 17.  Can’t risk the starters when you might have to play the following Saturday.

3.) Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons

Stats: 1421 Yds, 15 TDs, 4.3 Avg, 6 Rec, 41 Yds
Team Record: 9-5, 3rd place NFC South
Last week: 32 carries, 152 Yds, 1 TD in a win over TB
Remaining Games: @Min, STL

I threw Turner’s name out there about a month ago and he hasn’t let me down.  Except when it counted.  You know, the Fantasy Football Playoffs.  Way to show up in the consolation round, jackass.  But I digress.  Turner is going to have a great look at the MVP, but he’ll have to run through the teeth of a tough Vikings defense to earn it.  The upside:  A Turner MVP gives us another reason to mock AJ smith.

4.) DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers
Stats: 1232 yds, 14 TDs, 5.5 Avg, 22 Rec, 121 Yds
Team Record: 11-3, 1st place NFC South
Last week: 12 carries, 88 Yds, 1 TD in a win over DEN
Remaining Games: @NYG, @NO

DeAngelo is crazy good.  Now I remember why I was deliriously angry during the 2006 draft when the Colts missed out on this Memphis talent by just 3 picks.  I lost it old-school when he was taken at 27.  Does he have a shot to win the MVP?  Yup.  The perfect stage.  Sunday Night Football in a key game against the Giants to decide the NFC.  Remember to score a lot of touchdowns, DeAngelo.

5.) Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Stats: 24 TDs, 11 INTs, 3013 Yds, 98.3 Rating
Team Record: 9-5, 2nd place NFC East
Last week: 2 TD in a win over NYG
Remaining Games: BAL, @Phi

Romo is back on the list just one week after the Steelers debacle.  I couldn’t resist.  He’s a Dallas Cowboy which means someone will vote for him.  He is second in the league in QB rating.  He has a shot to lead his team to the playoffs despite a brutal December schedule.  If he succeeds he might be the MVP.  It’s a long shot. 

Others vaguely in the conversation: Chad Pennington (needs stats and wins), Kurt Warner (needs stats and wins), Matt Ryan (needs stats and wins), Brian Westbrook (needs stats and wins)

Projected Voting:  Adrian Peterson – 15 votes.  Peyton Manning – 13 votes.  Michael Turner 10 votes.  DeAngelo Williams – 4 votes. Tony Romo – 3 votes.  Eli Manning – 2 votes.  Kurt Warner – 2 votes.    Brett Favre – 1 vote. 

No ties this week.  AP wins it narrowly on equal parts talent and hype.  The sad truth?  I wanted to project Kurt Warner with more votes because I’m not sure the media is paying attention to how bad he’s been.  If he gets a single vote it will be a crime.  I bet he gets more than 5.  Hopefully the voters prove me wrong.    

Links:  A lot of ESPN readers agree with us.  So does this random blogger-fan.  Clark Judge calls for a Manning MVP.  Mike Florio sees the race shaping up like we do.  Dan Parr of PFW has moved Manning up seven spots in three weeks.  Fox’s Adam Schein likes #18 by a hair, but Tony Dungy does not.  That might be the first time I’ve muttered jackass under my breath about our HOF coach.  Bucky Brooks notes that Manning’s leadership has been impressive.     

Commentary: This week JMV of 1260 WNDE joins us with his take on the MVP Race.  “If the Colts win out I believe Peyton Manning will win the MVP.  Even if his stats don’t match up with a couple of the other contenders it will not matter.  The Colts will have won 9 straight going into the postseason and Manning has been the biggest reason.
The three main components to Manning winning the award:
1.)  Manning has battled the Colts through injuries (his own included)
2.)  What have you done for me lately?  (No losses since October)
3.)  Name recognition. (He is Peyton Manning)
The Race:  Peyton Manning, AP, followed by The Rest (Warner, E. Manning, M Ryan, J Delhomme, and D Brees)
Defensive MVP:  Ed Reed – Baltimore.  In the mix (James Harrison – Pittsburgh, DeMarcus Ware – Dallas)
Coach of the year:  Tony Sparano – Miami (1 win last year).  Oddly enough this could be Tony Dungy’s best coaching year, but he may not be in the top 7 for Coach of the Year.”