The 2013 MVP race in the National Football League has been far from a close race in the minds of almost every expert. The award is already on its silver platter and is now just waiting for the season to complete so Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning can accept it.
While Peyton Manning may be the frontrunner for the award, it is far from a landslide. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers recent performances have showcased just why his year is worthy of a second MVP award.
It should come as no surprise that Manning and Rodgers are the top two candidates to be named MVP. In most conversations, their names are the ones that come up when debating the top passer in the game today.
Statistically, Manning dominates Rodgers in 2013. If he is somehow able to continue his pace for the remaining half of the season, Peyton Manning would obliterate Tom Brady’s historic 50 touchdown pass season in 2007. So far through just 8 games Manning has 29, putting him on pace for 58 by year’s end. He also has 2,919 yards making a 6,000 yard season actually seem plausible.
Aaron Rodgers on the other hand has 2,191 yards and 15 touchdowns. So how on Earth has Rodgers made a comparable case for MVP?
For starters there are a few differences between the two teams. The Denver Broncos have had a full arsenal of offensive weapons to compliment Peyton Manning all year long. A running game has emerged with Knowshon Moreno coming into his own this season. Having Demarius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker, and Julius Thomas to throw also makes things pretty easy for a quarterback.
Heading into the year Aaron Rodgers thought he would have a similar set of skill players. The injury bug had other plans however, biting Green Bay hard as the season has progressed.
The dynamic duo of Randall Cobb and James Jones have fallen by the wayside in recent weeks. Tight end Jermichael Finley appeared to finally be developing into the reliable star he has always had the talent to be this season before falling victim to a neck injury that still has a cloudy prognosis weeks later.
In Green Bay, Jordy Nelson is all that remains of the Packers opening day receiving corps. Jarrett Boykin has been forced into a starting role, while Myles White has taken over the third receiver position. Not exactly household names for Rodgers to throw to.
This is precisely what has made Rodgers season worthy of an MVP award. Despite losing almost every star on the offensive side of the ball, Aaron Rodgers has guided his team to four straight victories and has them fighting to earn a first round bye in the playoffs come seasons end.
Leading the NFC North despite a surging Detroit Lions team and an always competitive Chicago Bears unit is no easy task, but Rodgers has lead his ragtag bunch of skill players to the front of a stacked NFC.
Heck, he’s even made Boykin look like a star at times this season. Myles White was putting up good numbers against the Vikings on Sunday. It doesn’t matter who he is throwing to, Rodgers is so accurate and poised that his targets will be in position to succeed regardless of how little experience they have.
On Sunday night, we even saw just how much Rodgers has developed as a player. Rather than forcing the ball down the field against two deep safeties like he has been prone to do in the past, perhaps feeling like he had to make plays due to a lack of a running game, Aaron has been patient and avoiding mistakes that keep opponents in ball games.
He had just five incomplete passes on Sunday while putting up 285 yards and a pair of touchdown passes. Not the huge stat lines that Manning produces, but Rodgers gave the Packers machine like efficiency despite new cogs being thrown into the offense.
Scrambling also plays a major role in his ability to thrive without a big name corps around him, he added 31 yards on six carries against the Vikings. A willingness to take hits and put his body on the line may eventually backfire, but it showcases his competitive spirit and thirst for victory.
The persona of a champion, Rodgers has won against the odds in 2013 and appears to be heating up. If he continues to be as efficient as he has been lately, the Packers will be a force when they are healthy. It would also be very hard to keep Rodgers hands off of the MVP trophy at that point too.
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express