Peter King's MVP Leaders After a wide-open race, the Colts' Peyton Manning has emerged as the man to beat

December 22, 2003

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.

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER (MCNAIR) MCNAIR
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)