Tom Brady has defeated Peyton Manning this season. But Brady didn’t beat Manning personally. How could he? They were never on the field together except to shake hands after Brady’s Patriots whipped Manning’s Broncos.
That’s what makes Sunday’s matchup between the Texans and the Vikings so out of the ordinary. Rarely are two Most Valuable Player candidates afforded the opportunity to state their case directly to the other, because, in the 21st century, defensive players usually get only passing mention when MVP conversations occur. But the Texans’ J.J. Watt, in just his second season, is shaking things up. He’s messing with conventional wisdom.
Should the NFL’s co-sack leader (191/2) and all-around disruptive force of nature at defensive end gain the upper hand in his one-on-one battle with the NFL’s rushing leader, Adrian Peterson, and the Texans also triumph, giving them the de facto AFC regular-season championship with a 13-2 record, voters may have to rethink the way they think. Never mind how effectively Manning has played with a new team in his remarkable comeback from multiple neck surgeries or how Brady has again achieved a staggering level of excellence.