Mike Florio gave his argument this morning for why he thinks Adrian Peterson is the clear-cut MVP, and it again rests on the idea that somehow, the Denver Broncos don't need Peyton Manning as much as the Minnesota Vikings need Adrian Peterson.
In the end, Peterson’s value to his team simply outweighs Manning’s — even though Peyton once again has had a season to remember, shrewdly picking a talented team with an easy schedule and pushing the franchise to the top seed in the AFC. Last year, however, the Broncos made it to the final eight without Manning. This year, the Vikings would have been nothing without Peterson, a man who overcame a serious knee injury to become better than he ever was.
Moreover, at a time when we are more sensitive than ever before to the damage inflicted on the bodies of NFL players, Peterson earned every yard, foot, and inch that he gained. Even the long runs came after he ran through a potential tackler. Or two. Or five.
We broke this argument down last week, but it's worth repeating again. The Broncos won eight games last year. You don't even need to start a world war over Tim Tebow to note that some would argue the Broncos were, at best, a five- or six-win team. They got into the playoffs on the third tiebreaker. Petyon Manning came to Denver and they are currently the best team in football and won 13 games. Adrian Peterson ran for a billion yards this season, and the Vikings barely edged out the Bears for the sixth seed. It's not even close.
As one of our readers pointed out this morning, success in the NFL correlates to the passing game, not to running the ball. In fact, that's really the larger point--running backs don't win MVP awards because the quarterback position is much more valuable today. Adrian Peterson may be the most valuable running back in football (although, Jamaal Charles and C.J. Spiller could make their own arguments), but this isn't the 1920 Bears we are talking about. In today's NFL, it's the quarterback that is king.
Take a quick peek at the differences between both Winning Percentage Added per game and Expected Points Value added per play between Manning (0.23, 0.27) and Peterson (0.08, 0.08) Manning's is significantly higher. Of course, you would expect this--Manning is a quarterback.
Meanwhile, Peterson's value to his own team is roughly that of Christian Ponder (0.10, 0.06), Minnesota's below-average quarterback. Again, it's not that Peterson isn't a great running back, it's that quarterbacks are simply more valuable to teams than running backs--by a large margin.
And when you're talking about the most valuable of players, a running back isn't even in the conversation--even if it involves nostalgia for almost breaking Eric Dickerson's record, as Florio does here:
Many have wrestled with this one for weeks, determined to give it to Manning but keeping an open mind for Peterson. It would have been easy to say Peterson gets it only if he sets the single-season rushing record. It’s harder to accept that he missed it (by 27 feet) but still deserves it.
This argument certainly feels right, doesn't it? The guy almost broke the record, so let's at least give him an award.
Sounds good to me. How about Comeback Player of the Year?