In many ways, it is unfortunate that the postseason isn't considered when the voting for the MVP occurs. Why is it that postseason performances don't weigh in when considering the best in the league?
Yes, people remember amazing seasons, but what really stands out is the player that leads their team to a Super Bowl win. In 2010, the Packers entered the playoffs with a 10-6 record and the sixth seed overall in the NFC. They experienced a number of injuries throughout the season, including losing Jermichael Finley for the last 15 games and Aaron Rodgers for some time due to concussion.
But they won out and became Super Bowl champions against the AFC 2nd seed Pittsburgh Steelers. Rodgers led all quarterbacks in the postseason with a 109.8 passer rating. Who won the MVP in 2010? Tom Brady, whose Patriots had a 14-2 record in the regular season. The Pats, however, fell in their first postseason game against the Jets in the Divisional Round. Not only did Brady win the MVP, but he was the first unanimous vote for MVP in league history. While he did have an amazing regular season, his postseason outing seemed to not warrant the accolade.
So, when looking at 2011, what if the postseason was included in MVP voting? If so, the argument could be had that Eli Manning should be in discussion amongst MVP candidates. Eli grabbed media attention when he stated that he should be considered in the same class as Tom Brady.
It seems almost ironic that, with Eli's words, we will see these two quarterbacks face off in this year's Super Bowl, a repeat of Super Bowl XLII where Eli and the Giants emerged as victor. Manning's performance towards the end of the 2011 season, as well as this postseason, would garner MVP attention if the postseason counted in voting.
The Giants won their last three of four games, including the make or break game against their division rival Cowboys, to make the playoffs. The Giants only home game in the playoffs was the Wild Card Round matchup against the Atlanta Falcons, and the Giants had, by far, the toughest playoff schedule of the teams that made it to the Conference Championships this season.
Besides the Falcons at home, the Giants had to take on the NFC number one seed Packers and the NFC number two seed 49ers on the road. The Giants shocked the Packers and football fans alike by going to Lambeau Field and winning by three scores, 37-20. Now, Eli is set to faceoff against Tom Brady in Indianapolis, home of big brother Peyton Manning and Brady's biggest rival. If the Giants win the Super Bowl again against the Patriots, will Eli take the place of Peyton as Tom Terrific's biggest rival? It's possible.
So besides leading his team to the Super Bowl this season, what other arguments can be made on Eli's behalf for him to be MVP material? Manning set career bests in completions, attempts, passing yards, and average yards per completion. He did this while losing one of his favorite targets, Mario Manningham, and experiencing a new receiving threat emerge in Victor Cruz, an undrafted free agent in 2010 who didn't have any receptions.
Manning also lost Kevin Boss after the 2010 season, and Jake Ballard, another 2010 undrafted free agent earned the starting role. Of the three most discussed MVP candidates for the 2011 season, only Tom Brady advanced to the Conference Championship and now the Super Bowl.
This postseason, though, Brady's numbers are very similar to Manning's. Brady has a better completion rating and yards per completion than Manning, but Eli has the edge on touchdowns and less interceptions (Eli has one interception in three games while Brady has three in two games). Their passer rating is also almost on par with each other (Brady 105.8 and Manning 103.1). If the postseason was considered in the MVP voting, the voting would most likely be decided on which of these quarterbacks walked away with another Super Bowl ring.
But, as we all know, the postseason is ignored in MVP voting. The two real contenders for the MVP, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, both exited the playoffs in the Divisional Round. Rodgers will most likely emerge as MVP of the 2011 season. Without an MVP award, Eli can only hope that the Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, so he can get the last laugh. Why? Eli would then have one more Super Bowl ring than Brees and Rodgers. The MVP award is nice, but the team effort goes a long way to showcasing a player as a leader, not a player who pads their numbers. That's you, Drew Brees.