Offensive Rookie of the Year: Dak Prescott
Dak Prescott has played really good, even if his stats don’t necessarily reflect that. The fact that he came into the offseason as the third string quarterback and ended up as the starter, even after Tony Romo was cleared to play just shows how good Prescott has been. He keeps his team in every single game and finds ways to win, no matter which team and which defense he is going up against. His ability to make plays on third down and late in the fourth quarter is staggering and should scare the other 31 teams that passed on him in the draft for many seasons to come.
Ezekiel Elliott, Carson Wentz, Malcolm Mitchell
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Joey Bosa
There aren’t that many defensive rookies that made a gigantic impact on games this season, with the exception of Joey Bosa. Bosa is a difference maker and has proved a lot of his doubters were wrong. His holdout at the beginning of the season was embarrassing for both the Chargers and Bosa, but he made up for lost time and should give Charger fans some hope. He only has five and a half sacks and 24 tackles this season, but his abilities and threat give something for opposing offenses to plan for each and every Sunday.
Comeback Player of the Year: DeMarco Murray
DeMarco Murray would be an MVP candidate if the Titans had two or three more wins. They are still in playoff contention in a bad division, and the reason for that has been DeMarco Murray. He is on pace to rush for somewhere around 1,400 yards and eleven touchdowns on the ground and even has had a touchdown pass on the season for ten yards. He is showing what made him so great back in Dallas and what Philadelphia missed on him last season. If he can continue to provide veteran leadership on the offensive side of the ball to a young Tennessee team, then the Titans should be a team for the rest of the AFC to worry about for the next few seasons.
Andrew Luck, Joe Flacco
Executive of the Year: Jerry Jones
What more can you say about the Cowboys offseason other than the fact that they drafted two players that are both under consideration for the MVP award in their first seasons. To this point in the season, they have only lost one game and are the only team to make the playoffs and it would take a major collapse for them to not have a first round bye in the NFC. They have the longest winning streak ever for this historic franchise. All of this should go to Jerry Jones and his staff because they turned a team that only won four games last season to one of the very best teams in the NFL in one draft.
Rick Spielman, Bill Belichick
Coach of the Year: Jack Del Rio
Jack Del Rio has done an outstanding job turning around the Oakland Raiders and making Derek Carr an MVP candidate. They are certainly playoff bound, barring any major meltdown, for the first time since 2002. He has made his team believe in themselves and has given them hope going forward. Their defense isn’t very good, but their offense and ability to stay in games is a product of Jack Del Rio and his coaching staff.
Bill Belichick, Jason Garrett
Offensive Player of the Year: Ezekiel Elliott
Ezekiel Elliott is leading the league in rushing yards, rushes of twenty yards or more, fourth in yards per attempt, second in rushing touchdowns and the only running back that is averaging more than 100 yards per game. A lot of credit does and should go to the offensive line, but the thing that he specializes is extending runs and making people miss. He isn’t just a good running back though, he is also a good pass blocker and receiving threat. He is a complete difference maker for the Cowboys and is possibly the reason that they have only lost one game to this point in the season.
Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Derek Carr, Matthew Stafford
Defensive Player of the Year: Von Miller
The Denver defense is one of the best in the league and that is mostly because of Von Miller. Von Miller gives other teams something that they have to worry about which then frees up the other side. If the other team doesn’t focus on Miller, then he will make the quarterback pay. His disruptions also make the secondary better because the quarterback has to get the ball out quicker and is more prone to make a mistake. The Denver hasn’t been very good on offense and the main reason that they are still in contention for a wildcard spot is because of Von Miller and his defense.
Marcus Peters, Lorenzo Alexander, Eric Berry
Most Valuable Player: Ezekiel Elliott
The Cowboys have the best record in the NFL right now and although some of that is because of Dak Prescott’s ability, most of it is thanks to Elliott’s. Elliott is the thing that other teams have to plan for. He takes the pressure off of the rest of the offense and allows guys like Cole Beasley, Jason Witten and Dez Bryant to face single coverages to allow Prescott to get the ball to whichever target he wants. The way that he finished runs and turns a no gain play into three yards or turns a three-yard play into five yards is something that not all running backs can do. All of the quarterbacks considered for this award are valuable, without Elliott, the Cowboys would have lost more than one game to this point in the season.
Dak Prescott, Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Derek Carr, Matthew Stafford
Since there are so many teams in the middle of the pack at this point in the season, the ATP mock drafts will have the twenty teams that are currently not in the playoffs until the end of the season.
There are nineteen or twenty teams that still have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs and one of those teams have already secured their ticket to the playoffs. There were some impressive games this past weekend and there should be more coming soon with the playoffs quickly approaching.
1. Dallas Cowboys (11-1; Prev. 1)
It was ugly, but the Cowboys were able to pull off their eleventh straight win and punch their ticket to the playoffs, thanks in part to the Arizona Cardinals. These next four games are going to be tough though, three of the teams that they are going to be facing would be in the playoffs if the season were to end today. The Cowboys are visiting the only team to beat them this season, the New York Giants. If Dallas is able to win this game, then they will win the NFC East.
2. Oakland Raiders (10-2; Prev. 2)
The Oakland Raiders now have the number one seed in the AFC based on win percentage against common opponents with the Patriots. Their offense still looks very potent, but they need the number one seed because it is hard to imagine this offense working as well in a cold weather environment. They have a tough schedule coming down the stretch, starting with the Chiefs in Kansas City this week.
3. New England Patriots (10-2; Prev. 3)
The Patriots defense had one of their best games of the season this past week against the Rams, but need to continue playing at that level going into the playoffs. The loss from Miami certainly helps New England’s playoff hopes. If the Patriots win this week against the Ravens and the Dolphins lose, then New England would be the next team to clinch a playoff berth.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (9-3; Prev. 4)
The Kansas City Chiefs won a close game against the Atlanta Falcons thanks to Eric Berry and the defense. If their defense can stop the Atlanta offense like that, then the rest of the AFC should be careful going forward. The Chiefs are in good position for the playoffs, but have a tough last four games, starting this week against the Oakland Raiders in Kansas City.
5. Seattle Seahawks (8-3-1; Prev. 6)
Seattle reassured their dominance on Sunday when they completely dismantled the Carolina Panthers. They are in good position to have a first round bye with the Falcons losing, but with the Lions surging, they need to stay on their toes. Their schedule for the last three games is favorable as the only team that they will face with at least a .500 record is the Packers when they go to Green Bay this week.
6. Detroit Lions (8-4; Prev. 7)
Detroit might be the hottest team in the league, outside of Dallas. They have won four straight games, and their win against the Saints was their best win of the season. Their offense is clicking and they now have a two game lead, thanks to the Vikings losing last Thursday night. They do have a tough remaining schedule as they face the Bears in Detroit this week, but their last three games are against teams with a record of .500 or better.
7. Denver Broncos (8-4; Prev. 9)
The Broncos are back into the playoff picture with their big win against the Jaguars and the Dolphins big loss against the Ravens. This offense is concerning, no matter who is playing quarterback, and they need to figure out a way to get more production or they won’t have a run like they did last season. They have one of the toughest remaining schedule in the NFL, and it starts this week when they travel to Tennessee.
8. New York Giants (8-4; Prev. 5)
The New York Giants lost against the Pittsburgh Steelers and hurt their chances of overtaking the Cowboys for the NFC East. They had trouble scoring early against Pittsburgh and haven’t looked good in the last three weeks, despite winning two of the games. They need to play better this week as they welcome the Dallas Cowboys to town and if they lose, then there is no chance of them winning this division.
9. Baltimore Ravens (7-5; Prev. 10)
Baltimore won a huge game against the Dolphins and were able to be really good on offense. They are still in first place in their division and are on pace for a Christmas day game for the division against the Pittsburgh Steelers. This week, they are travelling to New England for a huge AFC matchup with the Patriots.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5; Prev. 11)
Tampa Bay is in the playoffs right now and are surging to take over the Atlanta Falcons for the NFC South. Their remaining schedule is fairly tough with the Cowboys on the schedule, but two of their next three games are against the Saints. If they can win this week, then they are in an even better position to win this division.
11. Atlanta Falcons (7-5; Prev. 8)
The Falcons had their hearts broken on Sunday when they took the lead at the end of the game, but game up a pick two to Eric Berry, especially since he had a pick six earlier in the game. they still have the division lead because they own the tiebreaker against the Buccaneers, but they haven’t played that well in recent weeks. Luckily, the rest of their schedule is favorable to the Falcons.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5; Prev. 15)
The Pittsburgh Steelers got a big win against the New York Giants and are still in position to take over their division. The tiebreaker is still going to the Ravens, but their game in three weeks could decide the division. The Steelers have a more favorable schedule and are going to visit the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
13. Houston Texans (6-6; Prev. 12)
Houston did not look good in Green Bay and are now on the brink of losing their playoff positioning. The Houston Texans had a hard time in the snow and Brock Osweiler is terrible. They still hold the tie breaker over the Titans and Colts, but they are going to face both of these teams in the next few weeks, starting this week in Indianapolis against the Colts.
14. Washington Redskins (6-5-1; Prev. 13)
The Washington Redskins lost a huge game on Sunday and are now on the outside looking into the playoff picture. Their defense gave up a lot of points and were unable to keep up for the entire 60 minutes. They have a favorable schedule and the only team that they are going to face with a winning record is the Giants in week seventeen. This week, they are travelling to Philadelphia to face off with the Eagles.
15.Miami Dolphins (7-5; Prev. 14)
The Miami Dolphins may have ruined their playoff chances this week when they couldn’t even be competitive against the Baltimore Ravens. They have to win at least three of their last four games and only one of their remaining opponents have a winning record. They have the Cardinals coming to Miami this week and need this win or they could be out for good.
16. Minnesota Vikings (6-6; Prev. 16)
The Vikings lost a close game against the Cowboys and are now two games behind Detroit with only four games left to play. They have two games against teams that are also fighting for a playoff spot, but two games that should be fairly winnable for the Vikings. This week, they take on the Jaguars in Jacksonville and can’t afford a loss at this point.
17. Tennessee Titans (6-6; Prev. 20)
The Titans come out of their bye in a three way tie for the division lead with the Texans losing and the Colts winning. Hopefully the rest will help them with only four games left because they only have one opponent left with a losing record. This week, they have the Broncos coming in and need to control the ball to get the win.
18. Indianapolis Colts (6-6; Prev. 21)
The Colts showed up in a big way on Monday night and look like they could very well make a run for the AFC South. Houston losing and Tennessee on a bye gave the Colts an opportunity to capitalize and Andrew Luck came through in a big way. They only have one really difficult game left on their schedule and could knock off one of the other teams in first this week with a win against Houston at home.
19. Philadelphia Eagles (5-7; Prev. 17)
The Eagles have fallen off in a big way and they need help if they want to make the playoffs. Their last four games are against teams that are all on the brink of making the playoffs or have already made the playoffs so it is hard to imagine them winning more than a game or two down the stretch. The only thing that they can hope for is that the Vikings lose a couple more games so the Eagles can have a higher pick. This week they take on the Washington Redskins in Philadelphia in what should be an interesting NFC East matchup.
20. Green Bay Packers (6-6; Prev. 23)
The Green Bay Packers got a huge win on Sunday, showing that they can still win big games in big fashion. Unfortunately, it might be too little too late for a team that is now two games behind for the division lead. They essentially need to win the rest of their games and hope that Detroit loses another game before they meet on New Year’s Day in Detroit. That is a tall task considering that the Packers are facing the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field this week.
21. San Diego Chargers (5-7; Prev. 18)
The San Diego Chargers lost on Sunday and are now three games behind the Broncos for the second wildcard spot with only four games left to go. None of their remaining games have a lot of value unless they want to jeopardize playoff positioning for either the Raiders or Chiefs. They are going to Carolina this week to face off with the Panthers in a pride game.
22. Buffalo Bills (6-6; Prev. 19)
The Buffalo Bills are now four games behind the Patriots and it is hard to imagine a scenario that they are able to make the playoffs. They should be able to finish their season around .500 and build some momentum going into next season when they can hopefully be healthy. The Bills are taking on the Steelers this week in Buffalo that maybe Buffalo can mess up the Steelers season.
23. Arizona Cardinals (5-6-1; Prev. 24)
The Cardinals are playing spoilers to the rest of the NFL at this point. There is little hope for them to get into the playoffs this season, but they are still trying to stop teams like Washington from getting a wildcard spot. They have had a disappointing season this year, but hopefully drafting the quarterback of the future or bringing in a veteran, like Tony Romo, would make this team a contender again next season. This week the Cardinals are facing another team with playoff aspirations that they could stop when they travel to Miami to face the Dolphins.
24. Cincinnati Bengals (4-7-1; Prev. 26)
The Cincinnati Bengals looked good on Sunday, despite another game without AJ Green. They are now two and a half games behind Baltimore and Pittsburgh and are facing both teams down the stretch, but it is unlikely that they will take the lead from either of those teams. Both of those games are at home, but they would need both teams to lose three of their next four and the Bengals would need to win all four of their remaining games. They are going to Cleveland this week to face the Browns in a game that they should win.
25. New Orleans Saints (5-7; Prev. 22)
The Saints are now two games behind for the wildcard and division, but have a chance to turn everything around with some help. The two teams ahead of them are going to be playing against the Saints in three of their next four games. If they win the rest of their games and the Falcons lose a game between now and week seventeen, then the Saints would be in, but that is unlikely. They have the first of their two matchups in three weeks against the Buccaneers this week in Tampa Bay.
26. Carolina Panthers (4-8; Prev. 25)
The Carolina Panthers are done for the season, but Ron Rivera did the right thing by suspending Cam Newton for the first drive. The fact that Newton understood and was accepting of it just shows the respect that Rivera has in the locker room. They had a bad season, but they are facing the Chargers in what should be a fairly entertaining game.
27. Los Angeles Rams (4-8; Prev. 27)
The Rams didn’t look good on Sunday against the Patriots and Jeff Fisher was rewarded with a two-year contract. Their offense couldn’t get any momentum against a defense that has trouble up front. They are going to have to get creative in the offseason since they don’t have a first or third round pick this season thanks to the trade with the Titans last season. The Rams are facing the Falcons and have the chance to play spoilers to Atlanta’s season.
28. Chicago Bears (3-9; Prev. 29)
Chicago actually looked really good on Sunday, granted it was against the 49ers, but a win is still a win. Jordan Howard is really exciting and possibly a top ten running back even with a subpar offensive line, a third string quarterback and some deficiencies at the receiver position. They might not win another game this season, but with Howard, a top five pick and hopefully a healthy defense, this team has a lot of positives in the future. They are travelling to Detroit this week to face a team that they beat earlier this season and have the chance to play spoiler to now.
29. New York Jets (3-9; Prev. 28)
The New York Jets got demolished on Monday night against the Indianapolis Colts and Todd Bowles seat is getting a little bit warmer. They need a change next season, none of their quarterbacks are very effective and it shouldn’t be that difficult, given all of the talent on offense. They have a game that they could win this week when they face off with the San Francisco 49ers.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10; Prev. 30)
The Jaguars lost again and there should be no way for Gus Bradley to keep his job, even if they won their last four games of the season. They have a good nucleus of talent, but their coaching and quarterback play are holding this team back and there needs to be a change for at least one of those problems next season. They are facing the Vikings this week and it is hard to imagine a scenario that the Jaguars come out of that game with the win.
31. San Francisco 49ers (1-11; Prev. 31)
The 49ers looked really bad in the snow this past Sunday. They couldn’t move the ball, Colin Kaepernick was pulled after three quarters and only four yards passing. They need to find a way to turn this team around next year, but there might be too many holes for them to be back for at least three or four years. They have the Jets coming to town this week so maybe they can figure something out against another bad team.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-12; Prev. 32)
The bye week really did nothing for the Cleveland Browns. They are still winless, they are still on pace to have the first pick in the next draft, and it is unlikely that either of those things will change between now and the end of the season. The one bright spot for the Browns is that the Eagles lost and if they are able to keep losing, then the Browns might end up with two top ten picks to turn this team around quickly. They have the Bengals coming to town this week for a game between two teams that are just playing for pride.
My name is Sean, I have been a fan of the NFL for at least 25 years and want to get my thoughts out to the public. Please visit the main site for more posts