Individual and offbeat award contenders

Individual and offbeat award contenders
November 7, 2013, 3:50 pm
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Nine weeks into a season hardly is a time to select winners for the prestigious awards The Associated Press will hand out on the NFL Honors show the night before the Super Bowl. So much can (and will) change over the next two months.

Still, here's how the first half of the season went down in the seven award categories, along with some other offbeat offerings.


Peyton Manning owns four of these, the only player with that many. At the pace he is going, the brilliant Broncos quarterback could wind up a unanimous choice. The league's Comeback Player of the Year in 2012, his revival after multiple neck surgeries would be complete with another MVP plaque - and a Super Bowl ring, of course.

Runners-up: Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, Kansas City; Andrew Luck, Indianapolis.


No contest right now: Andy Reid.

Fired by Philadelphia, he took over the Chiefs, 2-14 a year ago, and has them at 9-0, the only unbeaten team in the NFL. Their defense is fearsome, the offense functional, the coaching impeccable.

Runners-up: Rex Ryan, New York Jets; Bill Belichick, New England; Ron Rivera, Carolina.


Impossible to look past Manning here. The numbers are phenomenal: 237 for 333 for a 71.2 completion percentage, 2,919 yards, 29 touchdowns, six interceptions, a 119.4 QB rating. And the kind of leadership expected from Hall of Fame-quality players.

Runners-up: Jimmy Graham, New Orleans; Jamaal Charles, Kansas City; Marshawn Lynch, Seattle.


Trying to separate Chiefs linebackers Houston and Hali is as difficult as trying to block them. Both are versatile big-play guys on a defense that turns around games with takeaways and stinginess at the most critical times. They're reminiscent of some of the Steelers' most dynamic LB combinations.

Runners-up: J.J. Watt, Houston; Richard Sherman, Seattle; Robert Mathis, Indianapolis.


Always the toughest award to choose, as last year epitomized when Manning beat out Adrian Peterson, who won MVP. The field is more wide open this year, ranging from players who got benched and lost their jobs in 2012 (Alex Smith in San Francisco, now the starter for undefeated KC; Knowshon Moreno in Denver) or were injured (Dallas linebacker Sean Lee, Tampa Bay cornerback Darrelle Revis).

Too close to call right now, although leaning toward Moreno.


No lineman has won this award, but there are a few who deserve consideration this year: D.J. Fluker in San Diego, David Bakhtiari in Green Bay, Larry Warford in Detroit, and Travis Frederick in Dallas.

From the more glamorous positions, look to Cincinnati RB Gio Bernard, Green Bay RB Eddie Lacy, Detroit TE Joseph Fauria, St. Louis RB Zac Stacy, San Diego WR Keenan Allen, Jets QB Geno Smith, and Buffalo QB EJ Manuel.

Bernard gets the edge for excitement quotient alone.


Plenty of contenders here, but one who stands above the rest is Buffalo LB Kiko Alonso. The second-round pick - personnel people questioned his size for the pros, not his skills or determination - is among the league leaders in tackles and big plays. That includes four interceptions, as much as anyone through Week 9.

Runners-up: Safeties Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona, Kenny Vaccaro, New Orleans, and Eric Reid, San Francisco; DT Sheldon Richardson, Jets.


People want to point to the teams lighting up the scoreboard, and with good reason. But the most impressive work on that side of the ball has been done by Ken Whisenhunt in San Diego. The revival by Philip Rivers, the development of Ryan Mathews and rookie Allen, and the big season from veteran WR Eddie Royal all stem from the work of the former Cardinals coach.

Runners-up: Adam Gase, Denver; Pat Shurmur, Philadelphia.


When your defense is turning an offensive league upside-down while slamming quarterbacks to the ground and picking off passes or grabbing fumbles, there's no real competition. Kansas City's Bob Sutton, who could have four All-Pro defenders this season.

Runners-up: Ray Horton, Cleveland; Sean McDermott, Carolina.


So many to choose from, but how can anyone ignore what the Chiefs have done? Yes, we expected improvement. But this?

Runners-up: Panthers, Jets, Chargers.


So many to choose from, but how can anyone ignore what has happened to the Falcons. Yes, injuries have played a major part, but they were struggling even before the roster was ravaged.

Runners-up: Texans, Ravens, Vikings.


Bernard's scintillating go right, cut back left, elude half the Dolphins and somersault into the end zone 35-yard TD run. Every Bengals fan must be drooling in anticipation of what lies ahead for Bernard.

Runners-up: Cordarrelle Patterson's 109-yard kickoff return; Calvin Johnson's leaping TD reception over three Bengals.


The fantasy players and those with a hunger for toteboards instead of scoreboards would go for Denver's 51-48 win at Dallas. We like some defense with our action, so the Monday night upset the Jets pulled off in Atlanta fits the bill, with comebacks galore on both sides and a last-second field goal to win.


AP NFL website:

Texans - Team News
Alfred Blue - RB
Alfred Blue (ankle) remained limited in Thursday's practice. Arian Foster's caddie is in no danger of missing Week 9.
Oct 30 3:41PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson (ankle) returned to Texans practice Thursday, getting in a limited session. Johnson was never in any danger of missing Sunday's game against the Eagles. With six teams on bye for Week 9, Johnson is a WR1.
Oct 30 3:40PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster (knee) returned to Texans practice Thursday, getting in a limited session. The Texans are just managing their superstar back's reps. With DeMarco Murray facing the Cardinals' elite run defense, there's a case to be made for Foster as Week 9's No. 1...
Oct 30 3:39PM Read More
Alfred Blue - RB
Alfred Blue (ankle) was limited in Wednesday's practice. Blue got first-team reps with Arian Foster (knee) not practicing. The Texans also held out Andre Johnson (ankle) on Wednesday.
Oct 29 5:15PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. The Texans are limiting Johnson's reps for rest purposes. He didn't suffer any setbacks last week and should be fine for Sunday's game against the Eagles.
Oct 29 3:43PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster (knee) did not practice Wednesday. It's a new injury for Foster. Coming off his three-touchdown performance, it's possible the Texans are getting him some rest. Foster will be a top-three running back in Week...
Oct 29 3:18PM Read More
Zac Diles - LB
Texans signed LB Zac Diles. CB Elbert Mack was waived in a corresponding roster move. Diles' addition is a sign the Texans aren't expecting Brian Cushing (knee) back for Week 9.
Oct 28 4:04PM Read More
Garrett Graham - TE
Garrett Graham was held without a catch in the Texans' Week 8 win over Tennessee. Graham was targeted just one time on the day, a seam shot from Ryan Fitzpatrick that predictably fell incomplete. Graham has been a very minor part of the offense, making...
Oct 26 4:53PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson caught seven passes for 55 yards in the Texans' Week 8 win over the Titans. Johnson saw a team-high dozen targets. He was followed by Titans top CB Jason McCourty for much of the afternoon, leaving DeAndre Hopkins to work on sophomore Blidi...
Oct 26 4:44PM Read More
DeAndre Hopkins - WR
DeAndre Hopkins caught five passes for 95 yards in the Texans' Week 8 win over the Titans. Hopkins was targeted 11 times compared to 12 for Andre Johnson. Hopkins picked up chunk yards on all of his grabs, and was stopped at the five-yard line on one grab where...
Oct 26 4:24PM Read More
Alfred Blue - RB
Alfred Blue rushed for 42 yards on 14 carries in the Texans' Week 8 win over the Titans. Blue added a 22-yard catch. With the Texans clobbering the Titans late and Arian Foster having already piled up 173 yards and three touchdowns, Blue got plenty of run late...
Oct 26 4:11PM Read More
Ryan Fitzpatrick - QB
Ryan Fitzpatrick completed just 19-of-35 passes for 227 yards, one touchdown, and zero... Fitzpatrick was pretty bad for most of the day, begging to be picked off, but the Texans rode Arian Foster's legs to victory. Fitzpatrick's lone touchdown went to Foster on...
Oct 26 3:45PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries in the Texans' 30-16, Week 8... Foster managed just 36 yards on his first 10 carries, but broke a 34-yard touchdown and had no trouble finding holes in the Tennessee defense from there on. Foster caught a...
Oct 26 3:21PM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
Jadeveon Clowney (knee) is active for Week 8 against the Titans. Clowney will play on a "pitch count," likely in pass-rushing and third-down situations. Good luck with Clowney and J.J. Watt, Zach Mettenberger. Inactive for the...
Oct 26 10:34AM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
Texans OLB Jadeveon Clowney (knee) is likely to play against the Titans, but will be on a... "I thought what he did what he had to do this week," coach Bill O’Brien said. "I think he’s got a good shot to play on Sunday." Clowney has been...
Oct 25 9:13AM Read More

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