The NFL will honor the best of 2013 on Saturday, Feb. 1, inside Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
While there's plenty of anticipation for the MVP announcement, there'll also be a handful of other coveted awards handed out on Super Bowl eve, including the league's offensive and defensive Rookie of the Year awards.
Without further ado, here are my predictions for this year's winners.
What: NFL Honors
Date: Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014
Start Time: 8 p.m. ET (pre-taped)
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers lost quarterback Aaron Rodgers for a significant portion of the 2013 season, but they were able to stay afloat long enough to win the NFC North and make the playoffs thanks to the brilliant running of rookie Eddie Lacy.
Although San Diego Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen and Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard are two worthy candidates for the award, it's hard to argue either player was more dominant or valuable than the Packers playmaker.
Lacy rushed for 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns in 15 regular-season games this past season, ranking eighth in the NFL in rushing yards and third in rushing touchdowns.
The former Alabama star also averaged 7.3 yards per reception out of the backfield. Thanks to some help from Adrian Peterson, Lacy earned a trip to the Pro Bowl for his efforts:
Eddie Lacy replacing Adrian Peterson in Pro Bowl makes him the 1st Packers rookie RB to be selected to Pro Bowl since John Brockington 1971.— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) January 15, 2014
Although Green Bay wasn't hurting for an offensive boost, Lacy provided the Packers with something they hadn't had in a long time: a consistent and reliable running game. Only Marshawn Lynch and Jamaal Charles rushed for more touchdowns, and only four other running backs moved the chains more often.
NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year: Kiko Alonso, LB, Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso set the league ablaze in 2013, recording 159 combined tackles, four interceptions, two sacks and two fumble recoveries in 16 regular-season appearances.
Only Cincinnati's Vontaze Burfict and the Jacksonville Jaguars' Paul Posluszny recorded more tackles in 2013, and only two other linebackers picked off more passes than Alonso, who became the first rookie linebacker since 1980 to record an interception in three consecutive games.
Although the Bills struggled mightily, winning only six games and finishing at the bottom of the AFC East, Alonso's versatility was a big reason why Buffalo ranked fourth in fewest passing yards allowed and second in interceptions.
In January, the Pro Football Writers of America voted Alonso the 2013 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
But the PFWA aren't the only ones high on Alonso. Former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher had high praise for the former Oregon Duck at Super Bowl XLVIII media day on Jan. 28, per The Buffalo News' Tim Graham:
Kiko should win it. He had a great season. He's the one rookie that actually stood out to me from the beginning. It should be his award to win.
He's got the skill set you want. He's athletic. He can rush the passer. He's got great coverage skills with those picks. He can hit. He can run. He's everything you want out of a middle linebacker.
It's certainly difficult to argue with Urlacher's analysis in this case. Alonso put together one of the all-time great rookie seasons by a linebacker, and his numbers are off the charts.
Although the Carolina Panthers' Star Lotulelei, San Francisco 49ers' Eric Reid, Detroit Lions' Ziggy Ansah, New York Jets' Sheldon Richardson and others were awfully impressive on the defensive side of the ball throughout 2013, Alonso's consistency and ability to do a little bit of everything sets him apart from the other candidates.
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