After a wide-open race, the Colts' Peyton Manning has emerged as the man to beat
As one of 50 voters for The Associated Press postseason awards, SI senior writer Peter King is constantly pondering who the league MVP should be. Five weeks into the season his front-runner was Dante Hall, the Kansas City Chiefs' dynamic return man; now he's not in King's top 20. After 12 weeks the Tennessee Titans' Steve McNair was the writer's pick, but two losses in early December took him down a peg. With two weeks to play, here are King's top five candidates.
1. PEYTON MANNING, Colts quarterback
He's 6-2 against playoff contenders, with a 66% completion rate, 15 touchdowns and four interceptions in those games.
2. TOM BRADY, Patriots quarterback
Sure, his touchdown-to-interception margin is only plus-5, but nobody in the league has been better in the clutch.
3. STEVE McNAIR, Titans quarterback
Tennessee's once-vaunted ground game has slipped to 29th in the league, meaning McNair is counted on more than ever.
4. JON KITNA, Bengals quarterback
Nearly benched early in the season, he's third in the NFL with 25 touchdown passes, trailing Manning and Brett Favre.
5. JAMAL LEWIS, Ravens running back
You could make an argument for Clinton Portis or Priest Holmes, but their teams have solid passing games; Lewis's does not.