Associated Press writer Jim Litke re-examines the argument that Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning is the NFL MVP despite not playing a down after NFL Magazine raised the issue. The Colts are 0-12 this season with the league’s only four-time MVP sidelined after neck surgery, and there’s no rule that prevents voters from selecting someone who hasn’t played.
All of those absences have no doubt hobbled Indy’s performance, but none compares to the loss of Manning — on both sides of the ball. Over the previous dozen seasons, with Manning calling the shots on offense, the Colts ranked first in points, passing yards and total yards per game; this year, in those same categories, they rank 29th, 29th and tied for 26th, respectively. The defense, meanwhile, ranks dead last in points allowed and has been forced to spend more time on the field than any other unit. Opponents know the changes in those stats are no coincidence.
“Those people that were arguing that he should be the MVP probably have a good argument,” Chargers coach Norv Turner said. “When he’s in there, they’re so good on offense and obviously when you get the lead, their defense is built for speed and pass rush. When they have the lead, that defense is real hard to deal with.”