Originally posted on Big Giants Boom  |  Last updated 12/22/11

by Adam Carman BGB Assistant Editor

Eli Manning is the New York Giants' MVP. He is the one constant, and his play is only getting better. He has already shattered Kerry Collins' single season passing yardage record and there are still two games left. Hopefully whatever else there might be debate upon, Eli Manning's status as an elite passer in a passing-dominated league had better not be one of them.

Still, being the best quarterback in Giants history is rarely seen as a prerequisite for NFL MVP. But this season in particular, Eli has been quietly building a case that he belongs in the conversation for the League's highest honor. The Giants haven't had an MVP since Lawrence Taylor did it in 1986. I am not delusional enough to believe the Giants will get any honors from the League this year: Eli Manning finished 5th in Pro Bowl balloting and will probably be passed over for MVP for Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. But here are three reasons why ELI Manning deserves consideration this year.

3. Eli Manning is threatening Dan Marino's passing yards record. For twenty-seven years, the single-season passing yards record has stood at 5,084. set in 1984 by the legendary Dan Marino. All season we've been treated to predictions that Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, or Tom Brady (and perhaps all three of them) would pass it this season. But over the last few weeks, Eli Manning has suddenly entered the conversation. Racking up only 200+ yards against Washington last week set him back somewhat but he still stands at over 4300 yards and with good passing days against the Jets and the Cowboys, he could still hit Marino's number, and is a very real threat to be the first Giants quarterback EVER to pass for more than 5,000 yards in a season. That's right: not Phil Simms, not Kerry Collins, not Charlie Conerly, not Y.A. Tittle, ever passed this mark. Giants fans are not used to having an actual elite quarterback, and that he has done it without any big name receivers and coaches that prefer the running game is astounding. We all know how good Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz are, but they are not famous for stretching the field. Eli Manning has taken a group of no-name receivers and made them all-pros. This deserves recognition beyond his team's hardcore fans. Which brings us to point #2.

2. Eli Manning makes his receivers better; they don't make him better. I admire Aaron Rodgers, and have a certain grudging respect for Tom Brady, and God help me, I'm actually becoming indifferent to Drew Brees. But it cannot be escaped: These three have succeeded because of their stellar teams. Just watch one of their games. Rodgers and Brees could flick the ball with their left hands anywhere within ten yards of one of their guys and he'll come down with it, nine times in ten. They have solid offensive lines and decent running games backing them up and defenses that, while not among the greatest, still hold firm more often than not. Eli has none of these things. He has had them in the past, but this year with a defense that ranks in the bottom five, a reshuffled offensive line that struggles and a running game that has definitely not lived up to its reputation, and a group of receivers that nobody outside New York City recognizes as genuine deep threats, Eli Manning has carried this team. Even against Green Bay, as the defense surrendered points like it was giving them up for Lent, Eli Manning tied the game in the waning seconds. He drove down field to win against New England and led the bounce-back on the road against Dallas. Green Bay, New England and New Orleans can outlast subpar performances by their quarterbacks and manage to carry the day. The Giants cannot win without Eli Manning. It's not exactly an exciting admission for a die-hard Giants fan to make: I'd like to believe they're a solid team but I have no evidence of that based on this season. My evidence says Eli Manning is our only hope.

1. The Giants still control their playoff destiny. This is not only good for Giants fans. Without Manning, the Giants would be long gone in the playoff picture. He orchestrated the wins in Philly, Arizona, New England and Dallas; he kept them in the game vs. Green Bay and San Francisco, and the Philly rematch. Even Sunday, plagued by bad balls from his receivers and a horrendous defensive showing, Manning kept the Giants threatening until the very end. Giants fans tend to think our beloved team could have already clinched a playoff spot, but the truth is, and NFL fans should appreciate this: Without Manning the Giants could easily be 0-14 at this point. Without Manning, they would be the Indianapolis Colts. And if Peyton deserves consideration from all these years, and even this year when his absence is so keenly felt in Indiana, then his younger brother deserves it. I doubt the NFL will see things my way, but they should, and for reasons beyond the fact that I am one of Eli's biggest fans.
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