||10-29-2012 10:40 AM
Manning an early MVP candidate.
In this case, getting by could consist of a record-extending fifth NFL Most Valuable Player award and a viable shot at a third Super Bowl appearance.
Does that sound crazy? After Sunday night, it shouldn't. Manning put on a mistake-free clinic against the Saints' sorry defense, completing 22 of 30 passes for 305 yards and three touchdowns, but it's not as if his effort was an anomaly. This was Manning's fifth consecutive 300-yard passing game, tying the longest stretch of his career (achieved at the start of the 2009 season, toward the end of his legendary run with the Indianapolis Colts), and he's currently leading the NFL with a 109.0 passer rating.
With all due respect to two-time MVP Tom Brady, reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt or any other candidate you can name, Manning should be considered the MVP favorite as we near the midpoint of the season.
Scarily, the Broncos are starting to look like a complete team at a time when their schedule turns softer than homemade pumpkin soup. Beginning next Sunday against the Bengals in Cincinnati, Denver plays eight of its next nine games against teams that currently have losing records, the lone exception a Dec. 16 road game against the Ravens.
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