Aaron Rodgers and the Packers were off this week, so the MVP and offensive player of the year races were sort of stagnant (is is possible to be “sort of” stagnant?). But a big performance from DeMarcus Ware makes the defensive player of the year race a lot more interesting. Here are you award winners if the season were to end today…
MVP: Aaron Rodgers, Packers — His top two challengers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees, struggled a bit in losses, so Rodgers tightened his grip on this thing while sitting on his couch Sunday.
Offensive player of the year: Rodgers — No one else is even close. The one thing that could remove Rodgers from his historic pace? The schedule gets tougher as the season wears on — Green Bay plays only one team with a losing record during the second half of the season.
Defensive player of the year: Jared Allen, Vikings — He had another sack to move his total to 12.5 Sunday, but DeMarcus Ware is making a hard charge after a four-sack performance Sunday night in Philadelphia. Ware now has 12. Both players are on pace to shatter Michael Strahan’s single-season record in that category. Ware’s hotter, has a game in hand and some real sexy matchups coming up, so I’m guessing he’ll break the record and overtake Allen to win this award. If both guys fade, then look out for Darrelle Revis, who’s having his best season yet.
Offensive rookie of the year: Cam Newton, Panthers — But Andy Dalton keeps complicating things by winning consistently in Cincinnati. Newton’s numbers are just too insane, but here’s the comparison…
Newton: 8 GMS, 2 wins, 6 losses, 60.6%, 2,393 YDS, 8.3 AVG, 11 TD, 9 INT, 87.1 rating, 319 rush YDS, 7 rush TD
Dalton: 7 GMS, 5 wins, 2 losses, 62.4%, 1,479 YDS, 6.8 AVG, 9 TD, 7 INT, 82.7 rating, 22 rush YDS, 1 rush TD
Defensive rookie of the year: Aldon Smith, 49ers — Ryan Kerrigan’s been tremendous in Washington, but he’s not putting up numbers. Smith leads all rookies with 6.5 sacks, all of which have come in the last four games. The first-round pick out of Missouri has an edge over Kerrigan and Von Miller.
Comeback player of the year: Alex Smith, 49ers — Another solid performance in a win over Cleveland. Teammate Frank Gore might also deserve some votes here. And an honorable mention goes to another guy from that Niners-Browns game — D’Qwell Jackson had 10 tackles in a losing effort. He’s been a tackle machine again after missing most of the last two seasons due to injury.
Coach of the year: Jim Harbaugh, 49ers — San Francisco’s magic number is six to clinch the NFC West. Regardless of how bad the division is, that’s amazing. Harbaugh’s team is about to end that playoff drought, and they’re showing no signs of letting up.
Executive of the year: Rick Smith, Texans — The revamped pass defense is giving up almost 100 fewer yards per game and two fewer yards per attempt than they surrendered in 2010. Amazing. Honorable mention to San Francisco’s Trent Baalke, who, as a reader pointed out last week, pretty much had a perfect offseason. Both Smith and Baalke deserve this thing.