2014 MVP Race: Argument for Peyton Manning Over Aaron Rodgers

Posted on November 20, 2014 at 9:10 AM

Ten games into the 2014 NFL season, many have been quick to anoit Aaron Rodgers as the league's next MVP to-be. No doubt, Rodgers has been phenomenal—ranking first in passer rating, ANY/A, interception percentage and total QBR. He's made a strong case for league MVP, which would put him in rarified air. Only seven quarterbacks in NFL history have even been multiple-time MVP winners: Peyton Manning (5), Johnny Unitas (3), Brett Favre (3), Joe Montana (2), Tom Brady (2), Steve Young (2) and Kurt Warner (2). But unike Manning in 2013 and Rodgers in 2011, this season has yet to produce a clear-cut leader in the MVP race. Two passers stand atop the pack.

Rodgers' 85.9 total QBR ranks 1st in the NFL—ahead of Philip Rivers' 80.5 (2nd) and Manning's 80.0 (3rd). In respects to categorical league rankings, Rodgers actually ranks below Manning in a number of key areas. Peyton's league-leading 2.6 sack-percentage is remarkable given the Denver Broncos' musical chair style offensive line.

Peyton Manning: 34.0 QBS (1st)

  • 2nd in passing yards
  • 1st in touchdown passes
  • 4th in completion percentage
  • 2nd in ANY/A
  • 9th in interceptions
  • 1st in sack percentage


Aaron Rodgers: 29.0 QBS (T-2nd)


  • 6th in passing yards
  • 2nd in touchdown passes
  • 6th in completion percentage
  • 1st in ANY/A
  • 34th in interceptions
  • 17th in sack percentage


Rodgers' ground support hasn't been breathtaking, but Manning's has been trash. The Packers rank 19th in total rushing and 17th in YPC. The Broncos rank 27th in total rushing and 25th in YPC. First it's Monte Ball (last year's No. 2 option), then it's Ronnie Hillman (last year's No. 3 option), then it's C.J. Anderson (last year's No. 4 option). No matter how often these backs run into nickel-plus coverages geared stop the passing game, the combination of their lack of field vision and the offensive line's inability to create holes has left Manning with some of the worst rushing support in professional football. Still, Manning has elevated his receivers' production to historic heights.

  • Demariyus Thomas' pre-Peyton career high receiving ranking was 80th in 2011—he ranks 1st in receiving yards per-game in 2014.
  • Emmanuel Sanders' pre-Peyton career high receiving ranking was 50th in 2013—he ranks 5th in receiving yards per-game in 2014.
  • Julius Thomas' 12 touchdown receptions in his first nine games (prior to injury) tied Randy Moss (2007) for most in NFL history.

If we are to judge the 2014 season on a game-by-game basis, no quarterback has played as well as Manning has in as many games as Manning has.

Number of Games w/110.0+ Passer Rating (2014)

  • Peyton Manning (7)
  • Aaron Rodgers (5)
  • Ben Roethlisberger (5)
  • Philip Rivers (5)
  • Tom Brady (3)
  • Andrew Luck (2)

At his current rate of production, 30 touchdown passes in 9.5 games, Manning is on-pace to throw for 50.52 touchdown passes in 2014. When you take into account the utter disarray of his offensive line, the putrid performance of his rushing support, the fact that none of his receivers had ever been remarkably productive in their careers prior to playing with Manning (sans Welker who has caught one touchdown in eight games) and the frequecy with which he has had to throw into nickel-plus coverages swamped to stop the pass, you could make a strong argument for Manning as this year's MVP. Rodgers may very well end up winning it, but Manning is right up there.

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