The NFL has a variety of awards to recognize the contributions of individual players. Of course, if you ask any NFL player, the Superbowl MVP would be the highest individual honor. However, accolades such as Most Valuable Player, Comeback Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year, and Defensive Player of the Year are all titles that will garner some respect from your peers and even a nice contract in the future.
So let’s begin with Defensive Player of the Year. The 3 front-runners for this achievement are Von Miller of the Broncos, JJ Watt of the Texans, and Aldon Smith of the 49ers. Von Miller has registered 11.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles this year. Despite this only being his 2nd year in the NFL, Miller has jumped onto the radar of every opposing offensive coordinator. JJ Watt is having a great season with 15.5 sacks and over 15 deflected passes. Watt’s presence is felt every play and he makes those game changing plays that every team yearns for. Aldon Smith is beyond dominant. In every 49ers game thus far this season he has not been able to be stopped. With 19.5 sacks, 3 fewer than the single season record, he is the best pass rusher the league has seen this year. Also, Smith makes his presence felt as a run defender as well. My selection for Def. POY would be Aldon Smith.
Rookie of the Year is fairly simple. As of week 14, there are 3 rookie quarterbacks who all are still in the playoff hunt: Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Russell Wilson. One could argue that the level of their success this year will have a lot to do with their team and not their individual talent (i.e. Seattle’s stout defense). Odds are that 2 of these 3 quarterbacks will lead their teams into the playoffs this year (even though there is a chance none could make it). The ROY winner should be whoever leads their team furthest into the postseason. If the teams lose the during the same round, the deciding factor should be regular season record.
Now here is where it gets tricky. It is very possible that all 3 of the remaining awards could go to the same individual; at least 2 of the 3 are more than likely to go to the same person. When talking about which players deserve to win the MVP, I always ask myself this one simple question: “If this player were not on the team, would the team still be able to compete in the same way?” My candidates are: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson. One could make a reasonable case for Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, RG3, and Andrew Luck to be considered. First, let’s discuss stats and team impact. Tom Brady has tallied 3,833 passing yards and 29 touchdowns while throwing just four picks. Tom Brady will be facing Aldon Smith and the 49ers defense after crushing JJ Watt and the Texans defense in week 14. Manning’s stats are top-notch, too. He’s passed for 3,812 yards with 30 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. In week 15, Manning faces the Ravens defense. Only Drew Brees has more touchdown passes than Manning this season. Adrian Peterson needs 506 rushing yards in his next three games to break Dickerson’s record. In his past seven games (all of which were 100-plus yard performances) Peterson has rushed for 1,101 yards—an average of just over 157 yards per game. My selection for Comeback Player of the Year is Peyton Manning. The winner of League MVP will also win Offensive Player of the Year. Based on the overall performance throughout the year Peyton Manning will win all 3 awards. However, this can change if Brady puts up another dominant performance against the 49ers and Peyton Manning struggles versus the Ravens, which he has in the past.
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