Seven of the eight awards remain the same this week, but there’s more intrigue surrounding the offensive and defensive player of the year awards, and the coach of the year award might suddenly be up for grabs again.
MVP: Aaron Rodgers, Packers — Forget Tim Tebow and Tom Brady, who have been less productive, less efficient and less successful from a win-loss perspective. So long as the Packers keep winning, Rodgers is the MVP. Sunday, he barely looked like he was trying in a blowout victory against a playoff contender.
Offensive player of the year: Rodgers — This might get interesting, because Rodgers might rest down the stretch, hurting his final numbers. Meanwhile, Brady and Drew Brees probably won’t be able to rest, which means they’ll probably break Dan Marino’s single-season passing yards record. But passing yards are overrated, and anyone with eyes can see that Rodgers has been the best offensive player in football by a wide margin. His 123.3 passer rating and 9.3 yards-per-attempt average tell a more important story anyway.
Defensive player of the year: Justin Smith, 49ers — Made another game-changing-type play despite the loss Sunday in Glendale. Don’t put that loss on the defense. I think Smith deserves this award, but I think a bigger name like Jared Allen or Terrell Suggs will probably win it.
Offensive rookie of the year: Cam Newton, Panthers — I was disappointed to see Newton fade in the second half against Atlanta, especially because he’s placed so much value on winning and Carolina had a big chance to play spoiler against a division rival. That said, Andy Dalton wasn’t overly impressive in another Cincinnati loss. Newton’s 16 interceptions bother me, but he still creates far more yards and points than Dalton does.
Defensive rookie of the year: Von Miller, Broncos — Another sack and again a disruptive force in his return to the lineup against Chicago. He’s the most valuable rookie in football, and is now just three sacks short of Jevon Kearse’s rookie record of 14.5.
Comeback player of the year: Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks — I hate to punish Willis McGahee for one poor performance, but Lynch has been the best running back in football over the last five weeks. After a 115-yard performance last night, he now has more yards this year than he had in his previous two years. And for the first time since 2008, he’s been healthy almost all season. Hard to believe he’s only 25.
Coach of the year: Jim Harbaugh, 49ers — I said last week that it would take a disastrous finish for Harbaugh to lose this award, considering how good the Niners have been despite such low preseason expectations. But that was a mini disaster in Arizona. If San Francisco really slumps down the stretch, I wouldn’t be opposed to Mike McCarthy or John Fox nominations.
Executive of the year: Rick Smith, Texans – Might as well just repeat what I wrote here last week: They just keep winning, and Smith’s offseason work has a lot to do with it. I’d also have no problem with Niners general manager Trent Baalke winning this thing.