The race for the 2009 NFL MVP is over. Finished. Done.
Heading into Week Fifteen, only two people were considered legit candidates for the award, and their names were not Chris Johnson or Brett Favre. While both those players are having stellar years (Johnson is the Offensive Player of the Year, for me), they are not vital cogs on teams that were undefeated heading into the week. Players who fit that bill were Peyton Manning of the Colts and Drew Brees of the Saints.
And wouldn't you know it! Both Manning and Brees were slated to play in primetime games on Thursday and Saturday night (respectively) against teams who were desperate to make the playoffs.
For the Colts, the game against the Jaguars Thursday night "meant nothing." The #1 seed in the AFC playoffs belongs to the Colts, having clinched it the week before in a tough, brutal game against the Broncos. For the Saints, homefield is still up for grabs, making their contest with the Cowboys a vital match-up even if the Saints weren't undefeated going into the game.
Because of the stakes, and because both players had essentially the same stats going in, how both men performed on Thursday and Saturday night was going to go a long way to determining who would win the NFL MVP. Here's how it all went down:
On Thursday night, playing on the road against a tough division opponent with little defensive help until the 4th quarter, Peyton Manning racked up a 134.4 QB rating for the game, throwing for 308 yards, 4 TDs, and completing 76% of his passes, including a 65 yard TD to win the game with 5:05 left. Once again, the game was "meaningless." The Jaguars absolutely had to win, at home no less, to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Colts already had their playoff seeding set, and were simply playing for pride. Under these circumstances, Manning was still dominant. The win gave Indy their 23rd straight regular season victory, and pushed their record to 14-0. Only two other team in NFL history have reached 14-0: The 1972 Dolphins and the 2007 Patriots.
How did Drew Brees and the Saints respond?
On Saturday night, at home against a Cowboys team that has been positively dreadful in the month of December pretty much since Troy Aikman retired from playing football, Drew Brees accounted for more Saints turnovers than touchdowns. He threw for 298 yards, completed 64% of his passes, but he was unable to get the Saints into the endzone until the 4th quarter. By then, the Cowboys were up 24-3, spending much of the game grinding the Saints on the ground (145 yards rushing, 2 TDs) and blasting them through the air (294 yards for Tony Romo, no turnovers). Brees threw for one TD but also tossed one INT and had two very key fumbles; the last of which on the Saints final drive. The result was a Cowboys victory, knocking the Saints from the ranks of the unbeaten.
So, with both QBs dealing with similar circumstances (lack of defense, playoff caliber opponent, primetime game) Manning shined while Brees wilted somewhat. Factor in that Manning had to play brilliantly on the road while Brees had three turnovers and only one TD at home, and yeah... this MVP race is over.
With Brees' fumble with 6 seconds left, Peyton Manning has locked up his 4th MVP, which is an NFL record I might add. Anyone who suggests a different candidate is an idiot and should be dismissed.
Seriously. The argument against Manning now falls into the land of the absurd, otherwise known as Skip Bayless.
Manning has met every possible measure one uses to evaluate an NFL. In fact, not only has he met the measurements, he has exceeded them. He also happens to be the QB for a 14-0 team riding a 23 game winning streak. So, when you hear morons at ESPN plea for Chris Johnson, or idiots at NFL Network trumpet Philip Rivers (um, WHAT?), simply dismiss said pundits as idiots and change the channel.
#18 has locked up his 4th MVP, and any suggestion or argument to the contrary is just the wasted breath of a clueless blowhard who like to hear himself talk. This may come off as harsh from me, but if there is one thing I absolutely cannot stand is when people move the goal posts in order to short change someone who has exceeded expectations. And the silly counter-argument that "They could give it to Peyton every year" also has no merit. Peyton Manning teams are not 14-0 "every year," and if someone has played better than Peyton, and has their team primed for the playoffs, SHOW HIM TO ME!
Since I know no one has outplayed Peyton in the 2009 regular season, kindly allow me to enjoy Peyton winning another award while, at the same time, making NFL history. I grew up watching schmucks like Jeff George and Jack Trudeau play QB for my team. So, when I see greatness, especially Colts greatness, I want it appreciated to its full and complete extent.