With five weeks to go, a few of these awards already seem to be secure, while a few are completely up in the air. Here’s how we see it with November behind us…
MVP: Aaron Rodgers, Packers — This is locked up. The Packers will finish with the best record in football and Rodgers is their best player. Without him, where would they be? No one else even deserves a mention here — it hasn’t been this obvious since Tom Brady won in 2007.
Offensive player of the year: Rodgers — This should be secure too, but it’d be interesting to see how things would unfold if Brady or Drew Brees were to break the single-season passing yards record and Rodgers weren’t to break any major marks.
Defensive player of the year: Justin Smith, 49ers — I honestly doubt Smith wins it as a 3-4 end, simply because he doesn’t have enough of a chance to grab the spotlight at that position. But at this point, no one deserves it more than he does. Whoever ends up with more sacks between Jared Allen and DeMarcus Ware will also have a shot. And I wanna get wild and throw one more name out there: Von Miller. Yeah, the rookie in Denver should be considered.
Offensive rookie of the year: Cam Newton, Panthers — This continues to the best two-horse race with the award season approaching. Newton has a slight edge because he’s found the end zone more often and because of his sheer yardage numbers, but Andy Dalton’s been a more poised, clutch quarterback and has been much more successful in the win column. Waiting for someone to emerge or fall off.
Defensive rookie of the year: Von Miller, Broncos — It’s been a great year for rookie defenders, too, but this race is over. As I mentioned above, Miller should probably be considered a defensive player of the year candidate at this point. Right now, there isn’t a hotter pass rusher in football. He’s only been held sack-less in two of 11 career games and ranks third in the league with 10.5 already.
Comeback player of the year: Alex Smith, 49ers — Hard to blame him for what happened in Baltimore, where he was assaulted by the Ravens defense on the road on short rest. That said, I’d like to throw Willis McGahee’s name out there as well. I’ve heard Laurent Robinson and Aaron Maybin, but they were never good.
Coach of the year: Jim Harbaugh, 49ers – Again, not penalizing him for that loss in Baltimore. That said, I have thought about something someone suggested to me over the weekend: If the Packers go 16-0, shouldn’t Mike McCarthy win it? I know we always like to give it to the coach of a surprisingly good team, rather than the best team, but McCarthy should be considered if the Packers run the table. I think.
Executive of the year: Rick Smith, Texans — Another big, game-changing play from Johnathan Joseph in another Houston victory. Joseph was the best free-agent signing of the 2011 offseason.