Who Are the Favorites for Every Major NFL Award After Week 11?
The favorites for every major 2012 NFL award will have to fend off some huge performances in Week 11 from players that we haven't been talking about in the prior weeks.
Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson combined to put up some huge numbers in their overtime win against Jacksonville. Schaub passed for 527 yards, which is the No. 2 single-game passing record in NFL history. Johnson caught 14 passes for 273 yards and a touchdown.
Speaking of Jacksonville, Justin Blackmon came up with seven receptions for 236 yards and a touchdown. Chad Henne relieved Blaine Gabbert and threw four touchdown passes.
There were some memorable defensive efforts, such as linebackers Aldon Smith and Von Miller coming up with big sack totals and wreaking havoc all game long.
Week 11 had three overtime games in which the losing teams (Jacksonville, Cleveland and Carolina) all blew double-digit leads. Blowing leads and not finding ways to win in the fourth quarter help explain the abysmal records of all three teams.
Some of our favorites for the major awards coming into Week 11 had solid performances while others took a step back toward the pack.
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year
After Week 10, the perception around the NFL was that Andrew Luck had put on a surge to narrow the gap with Robert Griffin III for the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. That tight race went back in favor of Griffin after his impressive outing against Philadelphia.
Luck, meanwhile, had a very rough game against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
RG3 completed 14-of-15 passes for 200 yards and four touchdowns. His QB passer rating of 158.3 is a perfect score on the passer rating scale. His QBR rating was 93.7.
By comparison, Nick Foles' QBR score was 7.2. In addition, Griffin was also the Redskins' leading rusher on the day; he picked up 84 yards on just 12 runs.
Griffin now has thrown 12 touchdown passes compared to just three interceptions. Those three interceptions have come from 277 pass attempts, which figures out to just 1.1 percent of his passes being picked off.
When Cam Newton won the OROY award in 2011, he threw 17 interceptions. This year, Luck has thrown 12 interceptions to go along with his 12 touchdowns.
Luck had a game to forget Sunday. The Patriots got to him for four turnovers in total, with three interceptions and one lost fumble.
Two of the interceptions were returned for touchdowns and helped to propel the Patriots to scoring 59 points. That thud noise you heard was the Colts team that came crashing back down to earth.
Other notable offensive rookie performances in Week 11 included Justin Blackmon finally stepping up with a big day. Blackmon came into the game against Houston with 26 receptions for 250 yards and one touchdown for the entire season.
On Sunday, he caught seven passes for 236 yards and a score. He almost doubled his production for the year in a single game. Blackmon averaged a whopping 33.7 yards per catch.
The 2012 draft class of wide receivers shows Blackmon in the lead with 486 receiving yards. He is ranked No. 52 in the NFL.
Next up is Josh Gordon with 470 yards and T.Y. Hilton with 455 yards. Hilton is the only rookie that has three games with at least 100 yards in receptions (against Miami, Jacksonville and New England).
Doug Martin came up with another big game on Sunday, rushing 24 times for 138 yards and averaging 5.8 yards per rush.
On the season, Martin sits at exactly 1,000 yards. With respect to all NFL running backs, Martin ranks as the No. 3 running back with his 1,000 yards. He is 131 yards ahead of Alfred Morris.
NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year
Chandler Jones has been the leading candidate for the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. But in Week 11 against Andrew Luck, Jones started but left due to an ankle injury. He didn't put up any stats in the game while he was in there.
Casey Hayward and Tavon Wilson are both in the top 10 in the NFL for interceptions. Both of them came up with another interception in Week 10. Hayward has five on the year (ranked No. 2 in NFL) and Wilson has four interceptions (tied for No. 4).
Hayward was tested often by the Detroit Lions. He came up with five pass deflections on Sunday, which moves Hayward into the No. 3 position in that category. He is only four behind Tim Jennings for the league lead.
We also need to give props to Alfonzo Dennard, who intercepted a pass from Andrew Luck and returned it for a touchdown. That is a feat that first-round draft picks like Morris Claiborne, Mark Barron, Stephon Gilmore and Dre Kirkpatrick have yet to accomplish.
There are four rookie linebackers who are making an impact in 2012 (three of them are ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in tackles): Luke Kuechly (No. 3 in the NFL with 95 tackles), Lavonte David (90 tackles and ranked at No. 5) and Jerrell Freeman (No. 9 in NFL with 85 tackles).
The fourth linebacker that is making an impact is Bruce Irvin. Irvin is the only rookie in the top 20 in the NFL with seven sacks on the year.
With six weeks left to go in the season, this award looks like it is coming down to Chandler Jones, Casey Hayward, Tavon Wilson, Luke Kuechly, Lavonte David, Jerrell Freeman and Bruce Irvin.
Stephon Gilmore and Harrison Smith would need to come up big over the final six weeks to get back into contention.
NFL Comeback Player of the Year
The NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award competition was reduced to two players about three weeks ago, and nothing has happened since then to change things.
Manning was leading all NFL quarterbacks in passer rating, but Aaron Rodgers leapfrogged him in Week 11 action. Rodgers is at 107.3; Manning is at an outstanding 106.2.
For Manning to come back with such a solid year playing on a new team at his age is just amazing.
Manning is also No. 2 in the QBR rankings. In that matrix, Tom Brady is No. 1 with 81.6 points, while Manning is just behind him at 80.6 points.
Peterson is still leading the NFL in rushing with 1,128 yards on the year. He had his bye week in Week 11, but he still maintains the league lead by 123 yards over Marshawn Lynch.
Every NFL team has now completed their bye week, so it will be up to the final six games to determine who deserves the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award.
NFL Coach of the Year
With six weeks left in the 2012 regular season, there are only two head coaches that have led their teams to nine wins so far. Those two coaches are Mike Smith of the Atlanta Falcons and Gary Kubiak of the Houston Texans.
Both Smith and Kubiak had to work hard to make sure that their heavily favored teams didn't lose to underdogs on Sunday.
The Falcons barely outlasted the Cardinals, 23-19, as they came into the fourth quarter tied at 16. Houston was extended to overtime by Jacksonville before sealing the win in the extra period, 43-37. Houston was trailing 27-20 coming into the fourth quarter.
Lovie Smith, Jim Harbaugh, John Harbaugh, Bill Belichick, John Fox and Mike McCarthy have all guided their teams to at least seven wins so far this season.
Coaches that have pulled off major surprises this year that will deserve some consideration for Coach of the Year include Greg Schiano, Pete Carroll and Leslie Frazier.
Then there is the inspirational coaching of Bruce Arians and Chuck Pagano, who have found a way to turn around the Indianapolis Colts in their first year on the job.
Finally, we also have to give kudos to interim coach Joe Vitt, who has quickly turned around the New Orleans Saints' fortunes since he returned from his suspension.
There are obviously a number of coaches that are in contention, and some of them will start to fall off when teams begin to fade in December.
NFL Offensive Player of the Year
The race for the NFL Offensive Player of the Year is still wide open. There are a number of outstanding quarterback candidates to go along with some outstanding performances by running backs and wide receivers.
We already have quarterbacks who have passed for over 3,000 yards, running backs have already topped 1,000 yards and receivers have broken the century mark as well. Because so many players are having great years, the voters will have a hard time deciding who they want to vote for.
Giving up so many turnovers in Week 11 will hurt the chances Matt Ryan and Andrew Luck. Ben Roethlisberger had been in contention, but if he misses more than three or four weeks due to his injuries, that will hurt his candidacy.
There are three running backs that are still worthy of consideration for the award: Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster and Marshawn Lynch.
From a wide receiver perspective, the leading candidates are Calvin Johnson, Reggie Wayne and A.J. Green.
The broken forearm of Rob Gronkowski knocks him out of consideration. Johnson and Wayne lead the NFL in receiving yards, while Green and Gronkowski lead the receivers in touchdown receptions.
NFL Defensive Player of the Year
J.J. Watt seemed to be cruising along to win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award. But here we are after Week 11 action, and Von Miller is starting to put up the kind of numbers that will make voters take another look.
Miller came up with a big game on Sunday to help the Broncos sweep the Chargers and widen their lead in the AFC West, getting three sacks and forcing two fumbles.
That effort vaulted Miller to take over as the No. 1 sack leader in the NFL with 13 sacks. He has produced four forced fumbles as well this year.
But he didn't keep his lead in sacks very long. Aldon Smith came up with 5.5 sacks on Monday Night Football, and he now has 15 sacks on the year.
Watt had a good game in his own right, but just not as good as Miller's. Watt had eight tackles, one sack, two tackles for a loss, one pass deflection and three quarterback hits.
The other serious candidates for DPOY squared off against each other in Monday Night Football: Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman vs. NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis.
The 49ers defensive stars didn't disappoint on Monday night, but the Bears stars were not much of a factor at all.
Aldon Smith and Justin Smith toyed with the Bears offensive line. Aldon Smith had a monster game besides all the sacks with six tackles, four tackles for a loss, and seven quarterback hits.
Playing like that on a nationally televised game is the kind of performance that puts you in the running for the Defensive Player of the Year Award.
NFL Most Valuable Player
In the NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award slide, we highlighted quarterbacks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Any of these four would also be in the running for the MVP award based on their outstanding play this year.
Rodgers has the highest passer rating in the NFL. Brady has the highest QBR rating. Manning has the highest average yards per pass. Brees has the most touchdown passes.
The odds are that a quarterback will win the award again for the sixth year in a row because the NFL is a quarterback-driven league.
For all football fans that would like to see the award go to a different position, the best non-quarterback candidates are Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, A.J. Green, J.J. Watt, Von Miller, Tim Jennings, Charles Tillman and Aldon Smith.
There is still time for somebody to step up in the final six weeks of play. The Thanksgiving holiday will be a good showcase for Arian Foster and Tom Brady, who play in the national spotlight.