2013 NFL MVP Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 11/12/2013
If he can stay healthy and avoid any major pitfalls then Peyton Manning is going to be named MVP when this NFL season ends. There is little doubt of that, and his -600 odds at Sportsbook.ag are a clear indicator of his dominance in this race. In the closing seconds of his last game against San Diego, though, we had a glimpse of perhaps the biggest threat to him winning the hardware — his own body. Though the game was close to in hand, Manning was still in as he stubbornly always is, and he went down after an awkward hit. He couldn’t get up initially, and he had to walk off clear issues in his ankle and knee. He had called a timeout so he could return for the next play, though why he did is a mystery to me. He needed an MRI on Monday, though it only confirmed that the high ankle sprain he has been dealing with is still an issue. Combine that with his knee troubles and the neck woes that could come back with any hit, and we are again reminded that one of the least mobile quarterbacks in the league is also one of the most fragile.
Given the heavy favorite in NFL MVP betting, there is no joy in making the obvious bet. Instead, let’s look at who could potentially come from behind and win if Manning does indeed stumble or get injured in the next few weeks. Here are some 2013 NFL MVP predictions:
Manning himself: If Manning can stay healthy for a few more weeks — and especially if he can decisively beat the Chiefs this week — then he may be very tough to beat in this race even if he does miss several weeks due to injury. The AFC is not particularly deep right now, so the Broncos are just a win or two away from clinching a playoff berth. If Manning could lead this team to the playoffs while playing at the level he has then it would take a truly extraordinary effort from other contenders to surpass him in the MVP race — especially if he suffered a serious injury that evoked major public sympathy or if the Broncos were clearly a far different and wildly-inferior team without him
Drew Brees (+300): If Manning falters, Brees could be best positioned to pick up the pieces. He’s on pace to throw for well over 5,000 yards, the rest of his numbers are excellent, and he has had three absolutely stellar outings in his last five games. The biggest asset Brees has is the same one that Manning has working for him — on top of his outstanding play he has a career that voters will be happy to reward. He has twice been Offensive Player of the Year, but has never been MVP. Five-thousand yards, a pile of touchdowns and 12 or so wins would likely be enough to make Brees the first alternate.
Tom Brady (+2000): The argument here is interesting. Brady has by far the worst set of receivers he has had in his career, yet he has led his team to 7-2. If he were to wind up with 12 or 13 wins, it could be one of the most impressive accomplishments of his career. His biggest problem, though, is that his numbers just aren’t that good — especially when you take out his great game against Pittsburgh last time out. When you compare his season this year to his best, it falls well short. He would need a whole lot of help to win.
Calvin Johnson (+2000): Johnson is a wide receiver. He’s one of the very best we have ever seen, but he’s still a wide receiver. There has never been a wide receiver named MVP, and while Johnson is having a strong season — capped by an exceptional outing against the Cowboys — his numbers have a long way to go to be good enough to reverse this well-established trend.
Jamaal Charles (+2500): The Chiefs’ running back may have the best chance to beat Manning despite the odds for a simple reason — he has two head-to-head matchups looming. Charles is clearly the best offensive weapon on the Chiefs — and it’s not close. If he could lead his team to a 14- or 15-win season while clearly outplaying Manning at least once in a win over the Broncos then he could gather some momentum. He needs to put up some big numbers the rest of the way, though, in order to overcome the perception that great defense plus just adequate offense is what is leading the Chiefs to win.
Andrew Luck (+2500): Luck had a good recipe for a longshot campaign going — he beat Manning, he has led impressive comebacks, and his team is much better than expected this year. He has also been the best of the stellar second-year class by a wide margin — and dramatically better than RGIII. His campaign suffered a major blow, though, when he was beyond awful against the Rams. A longshot can’t afford a misstep, and not showing up at home against an undermanned team with a backup quarterback is a massive misstep.
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