We often get caught up in the semantics of the acronym “MVP.” You’ve heard the world-famous cry: “It’s not best player, it’s most valuable player!”

For that reason, there’s momentum building for Peyton Manning’s inclusion in the annual MVP debate.

Without Manning in the lineup, the Colts have gone from Super Bowl contender to first overall pick contender. Remove any player from any team, and you probably won’t see a drop-off quite like the one we’ve seen this year in Indianapolis.

So there is some merit to the argument that, despite not taking a single snap, Manning should technically be an MVP candidate. But even if No. 18 sits the entire season and the Colts continue to embarrass themselves through December, Manning shouldn’t reasonably receive any actual MVP votes.

Two reasons why:

1) It would be far too cynical. ESPN’s Paul Kuharsky summed it up nicely, stating that “the award is about someone’s performance, not the failure of a team to perform without someone valuable.” There are too many quality candidates out there to give the award to a guy who might have been the MVP had he played. That wouldn’t be fair to Aaron Rodgers, who’s having one of the best seasons in football history (seriously).

2) Manning didn’t play defense. Had the Colts been losing games 20-10 or 17-7, I’d be more inclined to give Manning MVP love. But Indy gave up 62 points last week in New Orleans. I’m not saying they would’ve surrendered that many points under regular circumstances with Manning in the lineup, but they still would’ve lost that game. The 30th-ranked Colts defense has given up more points than any team in football, and it isn’t even close.

From Kuharsky:

While this would be a far better team with him, I’m not certain this team would have been one of the AFC’s best. Ten wins? Maybe. Nine? Also very possible.

Manning has won four MVPs since 2003, but keep in mind that he didn’t win the award in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2010. Even if he were on the field, there’s only a 50/50 chance his talents would’ve earned him MVP honors. It’s a good debate, but that’s as far as it should go.