The NFL Honors award show may not garner the attention that, say, Major League Baseball's year-end awards attract—I mean, who doesn't love to argue about the value of Mike Trout compared to Miguel Cabrera?—but there are still some very intriguing decisions to be made this year.
While some awards seem like open-and-shut cases—Peyton Manning will surely win his share of hardware—several other awards could go any which way. Let's preview this year's NFL Honors awards.
Saturday, February 1 at 7 p.m. ET on NFL Network: NFL Honors Red Carpet Special
Saturday, February 1 at 8 p.m. ET on Fox: 3rd Annual NFL Honors
List of Awards
AP Most Valuable Player
AP Coach of the Year
AP Offensive Player of the Year
AP Offensive Rookie of the Year
AP Defensive Rookie of the Year
Pepsi NEXT Rookie of the Year
NFL.com Fantasy Player of the Year
Don Shula NFL HS Coach of the Year Award
Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year
AP Comeback Player of the Year
GMC Never Say Never Moment of the Year
FedEx Air and Ground Players of the Year
Greatness on the Road
Bridgestone Performance Play of the Year
Salute To Service Award
AP Defensive Player of the Year
Deacon Jones Award: Robert Mathis, Indianapolis Colts
A few of these awards seem pretty obvious. Peyton Manning, for instance, will surely win the MVP, Offensive Player of the Year and Fantasy Player of the Year awards. After 5,477 passing yards and 55 touchdowns, both NFL records, it's hard to imagine anyone else winning those awards.
Robert Mathis should be named the Defensive Player of the Year after leading the NFL in sacks (19.5) and forced fumbles (eight). Robert Quinn deserves serious consideration as well (19 sacks, seven forced fumbles).
The Offensive Rookie of the Year award will be an interesting choice. Keenan Allen would be my choice, after finishing the year with 71 receptions for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns. That's huge production for a rookie, and Allen was instrumental in the San Diego Chargers making a surprising run to reach the playoffs.
Of course, Eddie Lacy of the Green Bay Packers would also be a worthy winner. The running back finished the year with 1,178 rushing yards, 257 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns, while becoming the centerpiece of the team's offense after Aaron Rodgers missed a big chunk of the season to injury.
That one could go either way, but players generally take a few years before producing big numbers at wide receiver, so Allen's season seems just a tad more impressive.
Linebacker Kiko Alonso of the Buffalo Bills deserves to be the Defensive Rookie of the Year after accumulating 159 tackles, two sacks, two fumble recoveries and four interceptions. This seems like a pretty open-and-shut case.
The Coach of the Year award could go several different ways.
Andy Reid led a team that finished 2-14 last season to the playoffs this year. Bill Belichick navigated through injuries and the loss of key players and led the New England Patriots to the AFC Championship. Chip Kelly went from worst to first in the NFC East. Ron Rivera led the Carolina Panthers to the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs.
This is probably the toughest to decide. This was probably Belichick's best coaching job, but expectations placed upon the Patriots will probably keep him from winning the award. The Panthers were 7-9 a year ago. Kelly inherited a pretty good offense.
So Reid will probably take home this award. The way he turned around the Chiefs this year was simply too impressive to ignore.
As for Comeback Player of the Year, Philip Rivers looks like the choice here after throwing for 4,478 yards and 32 touchdowns. Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com broke down his candidacy:
I've spoken to a few AP voters. Rivers appears to be the consensus pick for the award. While Rivers made a lot of bad throws last year, he quietly played well the second half of the season. Rivers was incredible in 2013, arguably the second best quarterback in football. But I'm not not sure what Rivers is coming back from other than a terrible offensive line and stale system. He's been here for years.
It's hard to argue with any of that. Personally, I feel Knowshon Moreno should win the award, but Rivers will probably be the choice.