Andrew Luck deserves to be in the 2012 NFL MVP race despite being a rookie, period.
As the immediate signal-caller for the Indianapolis Colts upon being the No. 1 draft selection in April, Luck has gone above and beyond expectations so far. Having been responsible for 15 total touchdowns this season, during Indy's four-game winning streak Luck sports a 63.82 completion percentage.
In short, the kid has found a rhythm and the Colts offense is clicking right now. His quick development and transition into pro football has kept pressure off the ground game and the defense is following suit.
With that said, let's move ahead and break Luck down more in-depth to see why he's worthy of a spot in the MVP race.
From Worst to in Position for First
Last season the Colts finished 2-14 and were on the brink of a catastrophic breakdown. And there was an offseason conundrum, because of Peyton Manning's health concerns and holding the No. 1 pick.
What to do, what to do, right? Eh, not so fast.
We still have to keep in mind that every pick in the NFL draft is an investment risk, especially the No. 1 overall selection. And although Manning missed all of 2011, the guy is a four-time MVP. The rightful concern was Indy's future and putting that in the hands of a rookie, regardless of who it is, is always a high-risk, high-reward situation.
Fortunately, the Colts have clearly made the correct move looking back. Now repping a 6-3 record and sitting in second place in the AFC South, Indianapolis is a legitimate playoff team. Because of Luck, this team is in the midst of arguably the most historic turnaround pro football has ever seen.
Considering that Luck is a rookie whose passing ability is responsible for setting up the ground game, "wow" is all anyone can really say. Everyone knew the guy had talent and all the intangibles, but this type of instant success has become a gem of NFL lore.
Comparison to Other Potential Candidates
With a little more than half the season over, it's natural for plenty of players to be among the MVP candidates.
Peyton Manning comes to mind, solely because he basically took a year off and his return is almost as if he never left. Other offensive players such as Matt Ryan and Adrian Peterson are also worthy of consideration.
Ryan is leading the 8-0 Atlanta Falcons who are the NFL's last perfect team heading into Week 10. The Dirty Birds' gunslinger is also enjoying a career year with 17 touchdowns to only six picks and a 68.9 completion percentage.
Peterson, on the other hand, is literally carrying the Minnesota Vikings by averaging 123 total yards per game. Factor in his health concerns in the preseason and Peterson's consistency is quite impressive.
J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans stands out defensively, having recorded 10.5 sacks with 10 defended passes and 39 total tackles. For a defensive lineman, Watt is basically taking over the line of scrimmage by himself.
As for Luck, he does have nine interceptions and only a 57.5 completion percentage. However, Indy has five players with 20-plus catches and eight touchdowns between them; that is not to mention, none of the five are running backs, so Luck is spreading the field emphatically well instead of just checking down.
The Potential of What Remains Will Dictate
Luck is in good position to make a run at the MVP award and the Colts are set up nicely to make a run at the postseason.
What is left, though, will tell us even more about the 2012 Colts.
As obvious as that is, not every team faces the same remaining schedule. This is where Luck has an edge regarding competition, because Indianapolis squares off against the New England Patriots and the Texans twice before the regular season finishes.
That's three games versus other MVP candidates in Tom Brady and J.J. Watt. The Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs can be considered wins, although the Detroit Lions at Ford Field won't be a cakewalk.
Nevertheless, if Andrew Luck can get Indy to close out at 9-7 or 10-6 and qualify for January, that's all that will matter. If Luck can carry on his production thus far through November and into December, he could enhance the Cinderella story of this season's Colts and his very own MVP campaign.
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