As teams prepare for the playoffs, members of the media and the NFL are finalizing their votes for the major awards like Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, and Coach of the Year.
Each award has several viable candidates. Here's a look at some of the names that have a good shot of taking home an honor.
Defensive Rookie Of The Year
Nominees: Casey Haward, CB, Green Bay Packers; Janoris Jenkins, CB, St. Louis Rams; Luke Kuechly, LB Carolina Panthers
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Quick Stats: Haward stepped in for the Packers once All-Pro Charles Woodson went down, and the Green Bay defense didn’t miss a beat. Kuehley led the NFL in tackles with 164 and lived up to his lofty draft status. Jenkins snagged four interceptions and converted three of them into touchdowns, along with 14 passes defended.
Winner: Kuechly will probably win with his total tackles, but Jenkins played against Brady, Rodgers, Stafford, and RG3 this season, and the Rams had the 15th best pass defense in the league.
Offensive Rookie Of The Year
Nominees: Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks; Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins; Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Quick Stats: All three led their team to the playoffs like veterans. Each led fourth-quarter comebacks, and have put together incredible moments. Wilson surprised everyone with his play, despite his 5-foot-10 frame, while Griffin was third in the league in passer rating, and Luck passed for more yards than any rookie ever and lived up to the hype. This might be the toughtest race to call.
Winner: RG3. Luck’s completion percentage and passer rating hurt him, and Wilson didn’t play as complete a season as Griffin, despite posting the league's fourth best passer rating. The Redskins survived a midseason slump, and Griffin pulled them out of it. The only trip up for Griffin is Washington’s win over Cleveland without him. Wilson could also steal away some votes with Seattle outscoring opponents 150-30 in a late three-week stretch.
Comeback Player Of The Year
Nominees: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings; Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos; Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs; Thomas Davis, LB, Carolina Panthers
Quick Stats: Three knee tears, and four neck surgeries. Charles and Peterson ripped up their knees last season and put up huge numbers this year. Peterson led the NFL with 2,097 yards and challenged the NFL single-season rushing record, while Charles was fourth with 1,509 yards. Davis had his third ACL injury in as many seasons, and no other player has come back from that injury three times. Davis record 65 tackles on the season.
Manning sat out for almost two years, and his career was in jeopardy after several operations to his neck, but led the Broncos a 13-3 record and the AFC’s top seed.
Winner: It’s between Peterson and Manning. One will be labeled Comeback, the other will be MVP. Peterson should take this award, and pull many votes from Manning for MVP.
Coach Of The Year
Nominees: Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings; Bruce Arians, Indianapolis Colts; Mike Shannahan, Washington Redskins;
Quick Stats: The Redskins improved by five wins and sported the NFL’s top rushing offense. Frazier handed the ball off to Adrian Peterson and Minnesota won seven more games than last year. Arians took over while Chuck Pagano underwent treatment for leukemia, and the Colts went 11-5, and nearly challenged Houston for the AFC South.
Winner: Arians. Indianapolis had nine more wins than last season, thanks to Andrew Luck, and to Arians keeping a young team together.
Nominees: Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos; Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings; Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots; Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Quick Stats: A running back has won the award just four times in the last 15 years. Peterson came up short by nine yards for the single-season rushing record, and that may have cost him the MVP, despite leading the Vikings to the playoffs.
Brady averaged over 300 yards a game, but New England’s loss to San Francisco may have taken votes away. Rodgers led the NFL in passer rating, but Green Bay struggled out of the gate. Brady and Rodgers are the last two to win the award, and didn't wow voters the way they've done in previous seasons.
Manning can capture his fifth career MVP after leading Denver to the AFC’s top seed. He’s second in passer rating, second in completion percentage, and third in touchdowns.
Winner: Manning in a landslide. His arm strength and durability were questioned, and his three interceptions along with the Broncos 2-3 record to start the season gave critics more ammo.
Now the Broncos have won 11 straight and are a favorite to win the Super Bowl.