In the peanut gallery…

Allison Mueller

Each week sports reporters Matthew Lambert and Eric Schroeder will face off on a hot topic in sports. The world of sports is changing quickly and constantly, but we want to slow it down and take a better look at the juiciest gossip, scandal, rumor or issue that is making headlines this week. Lambert and Schroeder will take different sides and battle it out, telling you why you they are right.

This week’s topic: Who will claim NFL MVP and the Super Bowl title?

Now that the NFL season is at its halfway point, the playoff picture is starting to form. We have seen teams who were supposed to be the best in the league (Saints, Bears and Seahawks) and teams who are catching the league by surprise (Cardinals, Chargers, and every team in the AFC North). Eric and Matthew have picked who they believe deserves MVP and who will win the Super Bowl. Let’s talk about it…  (Recap by Matthew Lambert)

FROM ERIC SCHROEDER

First off, Manning is once again having a stellar year as he has led the Broncos to a 6-1 record through week eight. They have put up a total of 224 points, 132 of which Manning has accounted for with 22 touchdown passes. He has also thrown for just over 2,000 yards and been as consistent as ever. His passing yards put him seventh in the league and touchdowns have him tied for first.

Manning has also had to play without one of his top receivers from last year, Eric Decker, who jumped ship for the Jets this past offseason. Manning’s skill coupled with consistency is what makes him arguably the most elite quarterback in the league right now, and this is why he will win his second consecutive MVP title.

As for the Super Bowl champions, there is little doubt in my mind the Patriots will be holding the Lombardi Trophy when the smoke clears.

For one, there is no one in the NFC who could contend for a title this year.  The Seahawks have collapsed, Green Bay is just inconsistent and Carolina, who leads their division, is sub-500.

Looking at the AFC, the biggest threat is Denver, but this Patriots team looks fresh and rejuvenated after getting thumped by Kansas City. Brady is still in his prime and as usual, New England fills in all the pieces with talent that no one has heard of.

This team is dangerous as ever, and I would not be surprised if they manage to cruise through the playoffs.

FROM MATTHEW LAMBERT

The MVP has been quite the competition this season. Could it be DeMarco Murray, the man who could break the rushing record in a single season? Or, could it be Peyton Manning again? What about Tom Brady, who capped off an insane October among the league’s best? Well, my MVP doesn’t play offense—actually, he does a little bit.

J.J. Watt’s stats speak for themselves. With 32 combined tackles, seven sacks, an interception returned for a touchdown and an offensive touchdown, Watt has been a force.

Though Watt has been the glue to hold the Houston Texans together all season, Jadeveon Clowney is finally returning to action, Ryan Fitzpatrick is struggling, Andre Johnson has wanted out the entire year and Bill O’Brien is still adapting to being a head coach in the NFL. Watt is also very consistent, getting at least three tackles in each game except for one. My money is on Watt and watch out for the Texans—they could steal a Wild Card spot.

For my Super Bowl pick, it’s one that has been a Super Bowl favorite all year. My original picks were the Saints and Patriots, with the Patriots winning it all, but it has changed after seeing this team’s defense.

My new pick is the Denver Broncos, not because of Peyton Manning, but because of their defense.

The defense is first against the rush, third in total defense, eighth in takeaways and 11th against passing. Free agent additions DeMarcus Ware, TJ Ward and Aqib Talib have taken this defense from one of the worst, to a force to be reckoned with. When you look at Manning’s team, the defense has been historically bad with Manning having to save the day every week. Now though, Manning doesn’t have to throw for 400+ yards and four touchdowns, but he probably will anyway.