Saturday, January 5, 2013

NFL MVP Vote: All Day

By: Brian Sanchez
(Left: Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson are the two leading MVP candidates)

     If I were to vote for the NFL MVP, it would not take me very long to make my decision. I would think about picking Peyton Manning, I wouldn't choose him, but I would have to pause and think for a second. I have decided my vote goes for Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, and I wouldn't have to ponder (see what I did there?) it for very long.

     This is my rationale for MVP, not comeback player of the year. Because both Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning have come back from devastating injuries, played a full season, and were incredibly effective, I consider the injury category a push and do not factor it into my decision. This is also based on the regular season and not on which player is in a better position or has a better chance to win the Super Bowl.

My Definition of Most Valuable Player:
     This may seem painfully obvious, but it is an important place to start in the Manning vs. Peterson debate. There is no set definition for being the NFL MVP, and each voter has their own distinct and unique way of deciphering who to cast their vote for. When I go about choosing the MVP, I put the most emphasis on the "V", it's all about value. And by that I mean how valuable the player in question is to their team.
Adrian Peterson with a stiff arm on Packers Safety Atari Bigby
     Now, in my opinion, the tactic of saying, "if you were doing an NFL fantasy draft for this one year, who would you choose first?" slants way too far towards the QB's. Quarterback is the single most important position in any sport, thus it carries the most weight in decision making. By the fantasy draft way of thinking, Adrian Peterson would more than likely not even be in the MVP conversation. Because QB is so important, if you were doing a draft of all players to start your team for one year of play, you would almost assuredly take Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees over Adrian Peterson. I'm also sure there are people who would take players among the likes of Matt Ryan, Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, and Russell Wilson purely because of their positional importance. That's why I throw that theory out the window.
     They way I like to decide MVP's is by taking the player off of the team and replacing them with an "average player" at the same position. This is the same basic idea of the popular Baseball statistic WAR (wins above replacement). By doing this, I think you get the most realistic look at the value of any particular player.

Why Adrian Peterson?
     Bottom line: The Minnesota Vikings do not make the Playoffs without Adrian Peterson. First, let's look at Adrian Peterson's season statistics:

348 car, 2,097 yds, 131.1 yds/gm, 6.0 yds/car, 12 TD, 2 fumbles lost

     Wow, talk about dominating the league. Peterson ended up only nine yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson's all time single season rushing record of 2,105 yards. I think breaking that record would have made Peterson an easier choice for most, but I don't think nine yards will change my opinion of him. 
Adrian Peterson leaps over Bears Safety Major Wright
     Let's run Adrian Peterson through my test of replacing him with an average player. With Adrian Peterson narrowly missing the greatest single season by any RB in history, the Vikings snuck into the Playoffs in the final second of the final game of their season. I do not believe any other RB in the league could have carried the Vikings to victory, only Peterson. Christian Ponder the QB for the Vikings is very little more than a game manager. Ponder only threw for 2,935 yards this year. 2,935, that's only 900 yards more than Peterson ran for. Are you serious? That's 183.4 yards per game. Ponder averaged 50 yards a game more than Peterson IN A PASSING LEAGUE. That's argument number one in my mind right there. 
     If the Vikings had another good, not even average, but good running back like Benjarvus Green-Ellis who ran for over 1,000 yards, do the Vikings make the playoffs? No way. Peterson had to do more than just have a productive year, he had to make plays, big ones, he was the deep threat for this team, especially with Percy Harvin injured. 

Why Not Peyton Manning?
Denver Broncos QB, Peyton Manning
     Manning had a great season, there is no denying that. He got the No. 1 seed in the AFC while throwing for 4,659 yards and 37 TD's. I can not deny those are MVP type numbers. But when I put him through my MVP calibration test, he passes, but not with flying colors like Adrian Peterson. Manning's value to the Broncos during the regular season is overrated in my eyes. I don't even have to imagine what this Broncos team could do with an average QB. Last year we saw what they could do with a Quarterback that can barely throw a football. Tim Tebow led the Broncos to the Playoffs. The man who could not start over the horrendous Mark Sanchez or the rookie 7th round pick Greg McElroy was able to take the Broncos to the playoffs, and win a playoff game over the Steelers. 
     My grand point is this, Peyton Manning took over a playoff team that won their division before he was there and did the same. Sure he got more wins and a better seed for his team, but he took over a division winning team. Look at how pitiful the AFC West is. The Raiders, Chiefs, and Chargers are three of the 10 worst teams in the NFL. The only reason those three sorry teams got wins was because they got to play each other and every time that happened one team out-worsed the other.

Closing Statement
The Most Valuable player must bring the most value to his team. Could the Denver Broncos have won the AFC West and made the Playoffs with an average Quarterback instead of Peyton Manning? Yes. Could the Minnesota Vikings have made the Playoffs with an average Running Back instead of Adrian Peterson? No way. Adrian Peterson for MVP, All day.
My NFL MVP vote, Adrian Peterson
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