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
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. Johnson briefly exited Sunday's game against the Bills in the fourth quarter. He said after the game that he was "fine," but felt a "pop" in the ankle. ...
Oct 1 3:41PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday. Foster is likely going to miss plenty of practice reps this week before being a game-time decision against the Cowboys on Sunday. Foster said he wasn't 100 percent in Week...
Oct 1 3:38PM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
Texans OLB Jadeveon Clowney (meniscus) has resumed jogging, and hopes to return in a "few... Sidelined since September 7, Clowney was given a 4-6 week timetable upon going down. That makes a "few weeks" attainable, but not ahead of schedule. The Clowney...
Sep 30 3:18PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Texans coach Bill O'Brien referred to Arian Foster (hamstring) on Monday as "day to... Foster himself acknowledged he wasn't 100 percent in Sunday's win over the Bills, managing six yards on eight carries. He'll likely continue to be limited in practice all...
Sep 29 4:20PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Following Sunday's win over the Bills, Arian Foster (hamstring) admitted he "just wasn't... Foster rushed eight times for six yards while playing on just 54.1 percent of the snaps, but did salvage his box score a bit with seven catches for 55 yards. The good news...
Sep 29 8:42AM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson said the ankle injury that briefly sidelined him Sunday is "fine." "I was more scared than anything because I felt a pop, so I went in and got checked," Johnson said. We never like to hear about pops, but Johnson did come back...
Sep 28 5:37PM Read More
Garrett Graham - TE
Garrett Graham caught three passes for 28 yards in Week 4 against the Bills. He was targeted five times. Graham is on pace for just 36 catches and 380 yards this season, but should be more involved going forward now that he's healthy. He was used in...
Sep 28 5:25PM Read More
Alfred Blue - RB
Alfred Blue had nine carries for nine yards in Week 4 against the Bills. With Arian Foster playing through a hamstring injury, Blue was used in a committee and finished with more carries. He added two catches for 16 yards on three targets. Blue...
Sep 28 5:22PM Read More
DeAndre Hopkins - WR
DeAndre Hopkins had five catches for 64 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's Week 4 win over... Hopkins beat Corey Graham for a 35-yard touchdown at the end of the first half. He finished with just six targets despite Andre Johnson missing time with an ankle injury....
Sep 28 5:03PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster totaled 61 yards on 15 touches in Sunday's Week 4 win over Buffalo. Foster was held to six yards on eight carries, but was targeted 10 times by checkdown artist Ryan Fitzpatrick. He was clearly running at half-speed and looked sluggish...
Sep 28 4:07PM Read More
Ryan Fitzpatrick - QB
Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 25-of-37 passes for 268 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions... Fitzpatrick's only notable play was a 35-yard touchdown to DeAndre Hopkins at the end of the first half. He managed the Texans to a win without any help from Arian Foster or...
Sep 28 3:55PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson left Sunday's Week 4 game against the Bills with an ankle injury. Johnson came up lame on a pass in the fourth quarter and was taken to the locker room. He was able to jog off under his own power and later returned to the game. Johnson...
Sep 28 3:01PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
According to NFL Network's Albert Breer, Arian Foster (hamstring) is moving with a slight limp... Per Breer, the Texans will "monitor his hamstring early in the game, determine his workload from there." It's similar to what was reported by beat writer Tania...
Sep 28 11:40AM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster (hamstring) is active for Week 4 against the Bills. Foster will be available for a full workload after sitting out last week. He's Rotoworld's No. 12 running back against the Bills' top-five run defense. Inactive for the...
Sep 28 10:33AM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
According to the Houston Chronicle, Arian Foster will "definitely" play in Sunday's... The chronic hamstring issue Foster has been battling for two months is good to go. "Foster would't be active if he wasn't 100 percent. That means he'll get a full...
Sep 28 10:03AM Read More