No, do not make a pedestrian performance yesterday v. the Cowboys taint his overall season.
This is how Manning stacks up against other viable candidates.
Eli Manning: Another Giants loss, coinciding with losses by the Eagles, Cowboys and Redskins, has helped extend the G-Men's lead in the NFC East.
Manning has anchored the Giants to six wins in arguably the best division in football. He has completed almost 63 percent of his passes, totaling 2,300 yards and 12 touchdowns. And yes, eight interceptions is a bit high.
When you consider the fact that the Giants' D has not played up to its potential (aside from the barrage of Tony Romo yesterday), it's hard to not consider Manning as a front-runner for the award.
Matt Ryan: A win against the Eagles yesterday elevated the Falcons to 7-0 and the NFL's lone undefeated team.
It may sound silly (or maybe not) to say that Atlanta has locked up a playoff spot at the midway point, but they have, and much of it is due to the team's passing attack coming together.
The development of Ryan has come to its height, with Matty Ice owning a 68-percent completion rate. He has thrown for more than 2,000 yards, with 17 touchdowns versus six interceptions.
The numbers are a little better than Mannings' and depending on how this win streak pans out, has an edge.
Matt Schaub/J.J. Watt: The Texans are the best team in the AFC, and both Schaub and Watt are the respective leaders of each side of the ball.
It's difficult to make a great case for Schaub, who engineers the NFL's 18th-ranked passing attack averaging 230 yards per game. Statistically, he's thrown for 1,650 yards, 10 touchdowns and four picks, but has led the team to a 6-1 start.
On the other side of the ball, Watt is in the midst of a career season and currently leads the league with 9.5 sacks. The Texans' pass-rushing machine also had 10 pass defenses, seven tackles for a loss and 34 total tackles.
If the Texans' defense continues to lead them to a No. 1 spot in the AFC, we might just see a defensive player win MVP honors for a change.
Tom Brady/Peyton Manning: I grouped Manning and Brady together because although they are not front-runners, they're potential candidates to take the forefront should their teams surge to the top of the standings.
Brady's Patriots are the clear-cut team to beat in the AFC East, considering the projected No. 2, the Jets, are more of a circus than a football team.
At 5-3, New England owns a top-five offense, and Tom Terrific has thrown for more than 2,400 yards, 16 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
Manning's Broncos are in the same boat, and at 4-3 are separating themselves from the Chargers. Manning has engineered the NFL's fourth-best aerial attack, and are about to hit part of their schedule when it's likely they could go 6-0 before a Dec. 16 date in Baltimore.
Manning has thrown for more than 2,100 yards with 17 touchdowns and only four picks.
Aaron Rodgers: The Packers are not where many expected them to be at this point, but nonetheless they're 5-3 and on a bit of a surge.
Rodgers' numbers are still fantastic. He's thrown 21 touchdowns and almost 2,200 yards, and he's done it without top target Greg Jennings and again a non-existent rushing attack.
The Bears, Lions and Vikings stand above the Pack in the standings, but the Lions are wildly inconsistent and perhaps we saw the flaws of Minnesota in their Thursday night collapse against the Bucs.
The concern is how pedestrian the Pack looked vs. the Jags yesterday, and perhaps what we expect out of Rodgers may not equal to how good they actually are.
Chicago Bears D: If an entire unit could take home the MVP, it would be the Bears' defense.
Chicago's defense has scored nine touchdowns, as many as the Jaguars' offense, and are a chief reason why they're 6-1 and atop the NFC North.
The Bears are ranked first against the rush and are holding opponents to 316 yards per game (sixth). The Bears have only allowed 14.3 points per game, which is tied with San Francisco for the best average in the NFL.
Leading the way is veteran linebacker Lance Briggs, who has team-high 44 tackles and a sack, two picks, two forced fumbles and two of the defense's scores.
Charles Tillman has shut down the likes of Calvin Johnson and other top wideouts. In addition to elite coverage, Peanut has three forced fumbles, two picks and two touchdowns.
And Tim Jennings has defended 13 passes and leads the league with six interceptions. He has accounted for one of the Bears' scores, too.
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