Things are getting real interesting in some of these award races. Here are our picks as of right now…
MVP: Aaron Rodgers, Packers — He no longer has the glaring statistical advantage over the red-hot Drew Brees, but he still has a significantly higher passer rating, yards-per-attempt average and touchdown-to-interception ratio, and two more wins than Brees does with New Orleans. It would still take a wild turn of events over the next two weeks for Rodgers to lose this award, but it’s not locked up yet either.
Offensive player of the year: Rodgers — Again, this is if the season ended today. Momentum tells me that there’s a decent chance Brees overtakes Rodgers in the next two weeks. Rodgers’ completion percentage and passer rating have both dropped sharply from game-to-game six weeks in a row, while Brees is playing the best football of his career, Super Bowl season included.
Defensive player of the year: Justin Smith, 49ers — This one truly is up in the air, with DeMarcus Ware, Terrell Suggs, Von Miller, Jared Allen and even Jason Babin in the running, too. All are strong candidates, but no one has emerged as an obvious one. I’m giving it to the relatively unheralded Smith, who had another sound performance to help the Niners win their biggest game of the year Monday night. You get the feeling this will come down to Smith or Suggs.
Offensive rookie of the year: Cam Newton, Panthers — Two more touchdowns, 55 yards rushing and no turnovers in Carolina’s biggest win of the year, an upset over Houston on the road. That probably clinches it for Newton, who now is only 278 passing yards shy of 4,000. He’s also putting up Michael Vick-like rushing statistics. And I feel foolish for doubting him in April. Then again, I’m not alone.
Defensive rookie of the year: Von Miller, Broncos — San Francisco’s Aldon Smith is now a sack and a half up on Miller, but Miller’s missed a game. Besides, he has twice as many tackles as Smith, and has still been much more of a nuisance. Still, it’s sort of funny to see all of these awards that seemed set in stone a month ago suddenly becoming shaky.
Comeback player of the year: Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks — He struggled to pick up yardage against a tough Chicago defense, but still managed to score twice in a big victory. I’d have no problem with this thing going to either San Francisco’s Alex Smith or Denver’s Willis McGahee, but I think Lynch has the edge right now. Another new possibility that emerged this weekend: Reggie Bush.
Coach of the year: Jim Harbaugh, 49ers — I expressed some doubt last week, especially with Mike McCarthy pitching a perfect game in Green Bay and John Fox working magic in Denver. But that win over Pittsburgh might have clinched it for Harbaugh, especially with the Packers and Broncos both losing.
Executive of the year: Trent Baalke, 49ers — Carlos Rogers and Aldon Smith were difference makers again in San Fran’s big win Monday night. Baalke signed Rogers as a free agent who didn’t receive any love on the open market, and he drafted Smith. He also stuck with Alex Smith despite criticism, and that’s worked out quite nicely. Oh, and that decision to draft NaVorro Bowman in the third round in 2010 is looking pretty awesome right about now. Everything this guy has been touching has been turning to, um, gold (aside from Taylor Mays, of course).