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
Brian Cushing - LB
Texans ILB Brian Cushing will miss at least one week with a knee injury. It's a blow to an already vulnerable Houston run defense, and a nice upgrade to Bishop Sankey's Week 8 matchup. Justin Tuggle and Mike Mohamed figure to start at inside...
Oct 22 8:32PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson (ankle) was limited in Wednesday's practice. The Texans are limiting Johnson's reps coming off Monday night's loss. He'll remain a WR2 for Week 8 against the Titans.
Oct 22 5:22PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster was limited in Wednesday's practice. The Texans listed Foster as "not injury related," but he missed practice time last week with a groin issue. Foster has a matchup with the Titans' No. 22 ranked run...
Oct 22 5:15PM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
According to, there's a "decent chance" Jadeveon Clowney (knee)... "He feels good," coach Bill O'Brien said Monday. "Well see how it goes this week in practice. We'll be able to make a determination pretty soon about whether...
Oct 21 3:58PM Read More
Garrett Graham - TE
Garrett Graham caught two passes for 24 yards in the Texans' Week 7 loss to the Steelers. Graham was targeted three times, but dropped the other. It can be considered one of Graham's better statistical games of the season, which obviously means he's nowhere near...
Oct 20 11:31PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson caught five passes for 77 yards in the Texans' Week 7 loss to the Steelers on... Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins each saw a team-high nine targets. There was nothing special about Johnson's night. His biggest play was a 24-yard grab on a deep in route in...
Oct 20 11:25PM Read More
DeAndre Hopkins - WR
DeAndre Hopkins caught six passes for 108 yards in the Texans' Week 7 loss to the Steelers on... Hopkins and Andre Johnson each saw a team-high nine targets. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw it to whichever receiver was working against embattled Steelers CB Cortez Allen. ...
Oct 20 11:16PM Read More
Alfred Blue - RB
Alfred Blue rushed for 14 yards on five carries and caught an 11-yard touchdown in the Texans'... Blue was the vulture on the opening-drive 11-yard score after Arian Foster managed 59 rushing yards to get the Texans near the goal line. Foster is an every-down back,...
Oct 20 11:09PM Read More
Ryan Fitzpatrick - QB
Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 21-of-32 passes for 262 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception... Fitzpatrick played well for much of the first half, leading the Texans on three consecutive scoring drives to open the game. It was a train wreck thereafter. One play...
Oct 20 10:56PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster rushed for 102 yards on 20 carries in the Texans' 30-23, Week 7 loss to the... Foster got off to a blazing start, rushing for 59 yards on the Texans' 94-yard opening touchdown drive, but was vultured by Alfred Blue for the 11-yard touchdown catch to...
Oct 20 10:47PM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
Jadeveon Clowney (knee) is inactive for Monday night's Week 7 game against the Steelers. Clowney's lateral agility wasn't where the Texans wanted it to be in pre-game warmups. He's been out since undergoing knee surgery after Week 1. Whitney Mercilus is...
Oct 20 6:09PM Read More
DeAndre Hopkins - WR
DeAndre Hopkins (hand) is probable for Week 7. The Texans listed Hopkins on the injury report, but his status was never in doubt. He'll be a WR3 for Monday night against the Steelers.
Oct 18 2:54PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster (groin) is probable for Monday night's game against the Steelers. Foster was limited on Thursday, but practiced in full the last two days. He should have another heavy workload against a Steelers defense that's allowing 4.4 yards per carry...
Oct 18 2:48PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson (ankle) was upgraded to full in Saturday's practice and is listed as probable for... Johnson is good to go for Monday night's matchup with the Steelers. He's Rotoworld's No. 15 receiver this week.
Oct 18 2:39PM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
Texans OLB Jadeveon Clowney (knee) is listed as questionable for Monday night's game against... Clowney got in two limited practices this week, but said he still "can't run laterally." He could be held out in an attempt to get fully healthy for Week 8. If...
Oct 18 2:20PM Read More