MVP Odds: Peyton Manning
When the NFL season first started, there were probably 10 to 15 names on this list along with odds for betting the "field". While each one of those players most likely made a significant contribution to their team such New England quarterback Tom Brady or Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, the choices at this time of the year are pretty clear cut. At the top of the list is quarterback Peyton Manning at -200. He is no stranger to this award in having won it four previous times while playing for Indianapolis. The first time he garnered this award was in 2003 when he shared the honors with Tennessee quarterback Steve McNair. He went on to win the MVP trophy the following year on his own and added two more MVP awards in 2008 and 2009.
After missing all of last season while recovering from neck surgery, Manning was released by the Colts and signed as a free agent with Denver. Heading into the final game of the regular season, he has led his team to a 12-3 record and has it on the brink of securing a first-round bye for the playoffs. Manning has thrown for 4,355 yards and 34 touchdowns while completing 68.1 percent of his passes. It is safe to say that without him under center the Broncos at best would be a seven- or eight-win team. He has obviously been spectacular the first four times he was named MVP, but the 2012 season may be his finest performance ever in a storied 15-year career in the NFL.
MVP Odds: Adrian Peterson
The only other player on the list at +150 is Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson. He has always been one of the premier backs in the league ever since he came out of Oklahoma six years ago. What makes this season so special is that, after blowing out his knee at the end of 2011, Peterson is having his best year as a pro.
Through the first 15 games, he has rushed for 1,898 yards on 314 attempts for an impressive average of six yards a carry. He is just 102 yards away from reaching the 2,000-yard milestone, and if he can rush for 208 yards this Sunday against Green Bay he would break Eric Dickerson’s record for most rushing yards in a single season.
While the fact that many people questioned if Peterson would even play this season, let alone be on the doorstep of posting the greatest season ever for a running back, the real value in his performance is reflected in his team’s record. The Vikings had sunk all the way to the bottom of the NFC last season with just three wins, but a resurgent Peterson has rubbed off on his team with a 9-6 record heading into this Sunday’s game. Minnesota faces a "win-and-you-are-in" scenario as far as making the playoffs this week. But even if it falls short of this once-unthinkable goal, this season would still remain an incredible accomplishment given how bad Minnesota was last year.
The final choice on the list is the "field" at +800, which is nothing more than a sucker bet at this point. It is obvious that one of these two players is going to win this season’s MVP, but I am still not convinced which one. The odds obviously favor Manning, but there is still tremendous value in Peterson at +150. He would enhance these odds with a huge game at Green Bay, especially if his team somehow pulls off an upset. However, there is still a strong chance that he may have already done enough to attract the necessary votes to win.
Dave Schwab of Doc’s Sports