Who Are the Favorites for Every Major NFL Award After Week 14?
Week 14 proved that no teams are safe. With the two best records in the NFL, the Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans both lost. So too did playoff hopefuls Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Tampa Bay and Baltimore.
We had a number of outstanding performances on both sides of the ball, but with only three weeks left in the season, it may be too late for some players to gain momentum.
Read on to see the favorites for each major end-of-the-season award.
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year
Coming into Week 14 action, we have been touting our leading candidates for the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year as Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Doug Martin and Alfred Morris.
But Russell Wilson may have joined the group. He continues to lead his team to wins and is deserving of consideration as well with his performances and poise.
In Week 14, all three rookie quarterbacks wound up with a win, but Griffin needed a major assist from fellow rookie Kirk Cousins to pull off the overtime upset win over the Baltimore Ravens.
Griffin left the game in the fourth quarter due to a knee injury, but it doesn't look as serious as it could have been. Griffin threw for 246 yards, one touchdown and ran the ball seven times for 34 yards.
Alfred Morris had another big game, as he gained 122 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown. Doug Martin followed suit by gaining 128 yards on 28 rushes and also scored a touchdown.
Luck led the Colts to another dramatic win, which was his sixth comeback win in his rookie season. The Colts were trailing to Tennessee 20-7 at halftime, but they found a way to storm back in the second half to win 27-23. Luck passed for 196 yards and one touchdown but also had two interceptions.
None of the rookie quarterbacks had it as easy as Wilson, who enjoyed running the show in a 58-0 rout of the Arizona Cardinals. Arizona committed eight turnovers, and Wilson had such a big lead that the Seahawks were able to get Matt Flynn some snaps as well.
Wilson has now thrown 20 touchdown passes compared to nine interceptions. His QB passer rating is 94.9, which is good for No. 7 in the NFL.
NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year
While Chandler Jones, Casey Hayward and Lavonte David have had strong seasons in 2012, a number of defensive rookies had big games in Week 14.
Bobby Wagner had two interceptions as part of the Seahawks' 58-0 rout of the Arizona Cardinals. Wagner also came up with eight tackles and deflected two passes.
Vontaze Burfict had 10 tackles for the Bengals but was overshadowed by Luke Kuechly, who came up 16 tackles in Carolina's upset win over the Falcons.
Harrison Smith came up with a 56-yard pick-six, which was a huge play in the Vikings' upset over the Chicago Bears.
Stephon Gilmore intercepted his first pass of the year and returned it for a touchdown, only to have the touchdown nullified due to an illegal block on a player that would never had tackled him. It very well could have cost the Bills the game.
With only three weeks to go, there are no clear front-runners for this award.
NFL Comeback Player of the Year
Peyton Manning throws a left hook, and Adrian Peterson responds in kind. Manning throws a jab, and Peterson counters with a jab right back at him.
That is the way the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award race has gone. Neither player is able to get any kind of a significant lead.
Manning had another solid performance on Thursday Night Football against the Oakland Raiders. He threw for 310 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The Broncos have now won eight games in a row, and with Manning at the helm, they show no signs of slowing down.
Peterson led his Vikings to a big upset over the Chicago Bears to keep the Vikings' postseason hopes alive. Peterson now has 2,000 rushing yards firmly in his sights, and it would be considered a mild upset if he didn't reach that amazing accomplishment.
In the Vikings' win over Chicago, Peterson ran the ball 31 times for 154 yards with two touchdowns and had an average of 5.0 yards per carry.
With the way that Manning and Peterson continue to roll, it will be very difficult to pick for one player over the other. Can a co-CPOY possibly be the outcome?
NFL Coach of the Year
With the Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans both losing in Week 14, a certain degree of luster was taken off the candidacy of Mike Smith and Gary Kubiak for the NFL Coach of the Year Award.
Instead, that brings the focus over to division-leading head coaches such as John Fox and Bill Belichick. Fox has led the Broncos to eight straight wins, while the Patriots have won seven straight.
As for the surprise teams, Seattle's Pete Carroll, St. Louis' Jeff Fisher and Indianapolis' Bruce Arians all won in Week 14. Tampa Bay's Greg Schiano was dealt with a tough upset loss to Philadelphia.
Fisher's Rams were shut out in the first half at Buffalo, but they made the necessary adjustments at halftime to pull out a win. The Rams went three-and-out in four of their first five drives of the game and still found a way to win on the road.
The NFL Coach of the Year Award appears to be another race that is wide open, but a few dark-horse candidates made some strides in Week 14.
NFL Offensive Player of the Year
Adrian Peterson led his Minnesota Vikings to a needed win over the Chicago Bears in Week 14. With three games to go, he has to average 133.3 yards per game to reach 2,000 for the season.
Peyton Manning is another serious candidate for NFL OPOY, and he has been incredible all season for the Broncos.
On Monday Night Football, Tom Brady was up against the tough Houston Texans defense, but he threw for 296 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. If he can come up with another big game against the San Francisco defense in Week 15, more votes will come his way for OPOY.
These three players look to be the favorites for Offensive Player of the Year.
NFL Defensive Player of the Year
Aldon Smith had fun wreaking havoc against the Miami Dolphins. He came up with two sacks, two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits.
In his Thursday Night Football appearance against the Oakland Raiders, Von Miller didn't have much of an impact on the stat sheet, registering just four tackles and one sack.
That left J.J. Watt to try to steal the spotlight on Monday Night Football against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. He came up with three quarterback hits, four tackles and one forced fumble in a blowout loss.
Other players like Geno Atkins, Anthony Spencer, Gerald McCoy, Michael Bennett, Perry Riley, Cameron Wake and Stevie Brown had big games in Week 14, but the three players listed above are still in the driver's seat.
NFL Most Valuable Player
Like the Offensive Player of the Year Award, the three favorites for the 2012 MVP look to be Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Adrian Peterson.
Manning has the Broncos looking like a very dangerous team this year, Brady has the Patriots cruising through the regular season and Peterson continues to be a medical marvel.
In a perfect world, all three players would pick up some hardware at the end of the season. At this point, a strong case can be made for all three for the MVP.
Thanks for checking out the presentation, and we will be back in Week 15 for our next installment.