Manning took a team that had no identity, a team that miraculously went 8-8, (and happened to be in a division so bad that the same 8-8 record earned them a Division Crown) to the #1 seed in the AFC, a 13-3 record, and is considered by many to be the favorite to lift the Lombardi trophy. He resurrected a franchise, made them instant contenders, and complied stats good enough for arguably his second best season, behind his 49 TD campaign of 2004. I'm of the opinion people are simply just tired of seeing QB's, and specifically Manning win these types of awards. It is true that QB's have dominated this award in recent times, but with good reason. How many free agents at other positions have teams picked up in the offseason that have had the effect that Manning has had?
Manning's detractors have been pointing to the fact that he took over a "playoff" team, and that he has only slightly improved their stature. That's a laughable argument, and it's weak. The 2011 Broncos were probably the luckiest, and more importantly, the worst 8-8 team in NFL history. They'll also point to his schedule, saying that the Broncos didn't beat anybody all year. It is true that the Broncos benefitted from a lighter schedule, and that they had early season losses to Houston, New England, and Atlanta. Firstly, those teams finished with a combined record of 37-11, one of them is #1 Seed in the NFC, while the others are #2 and #3 seed in the AFC. Digging a little deeper into the numbers, if you take away that disastrous first quarter against Atlanta, Manning had 6 TD's and 0 Int's in those three games, and had a chance to win all three games at the end with 4th quarter rallies that came up just short (thanks in large part to Willis McGahee's inability to hold on to a football).
He's been just as good as he ever was and in some ways, he's been better. He has moved to a new franchise and brought everything he established in Indianapolis with him. That, to me anyway, is an MVP. I would bet a lot of money that Adrian Peterson will win the award, and I'll be as happy for him as the biggest Vikings fan, but the true MVP plays in Denver.