Another exciting and entertaining NFL season is coming to a close. But before we say goodbye to football for a while, it’s time to honor the season’s greatest performers.
MVP & Offensive Player of the Year
This is an easy one. Starting week one, Peyton Manning made it impossible to name anyone else MVP. The numbers speak for themselves. He set new records in passing yards, 5,477, and touchdowns, 55, and led his team to more points than any other team in NFL history. It was a performance like no other.
Defensive Player of the Year
Robert Mathis had the best season of his career despite changing positioins, and not having Dwight Freeney on the other side. He faced all the double teams that offenses could throw at him, yet still had a league high 19.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles. The forced fumble against the Chiefs sparked a big second-half comeback in the AFC Wild Card game. Mathis didn’t have an off year like many expected, but rose to the challenge of replacing Freeney’s production.
Comeback Player of the Year
Jamaal Charles missed most of last season with a knee injury but returned to have an exceptional year. Not only did he rush for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns, he also caught passes for 693 yards and seven touchdowns. That’s 1,980 yards from scrimmage and 19 touchdowns. Charles crossed the goal line more than any other player this year. Defenses expected Charles to carry the ball and still had no answer.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Fantasy owners smart enough to pick up Keenan Allen were not disappointed. The Chargers’ third-round pick in 2013 quickly became one of the key pieces in the Chargers re-birthed offense. Allen led the team in receiving with over 1,000 yards and grabbed eight touchdowns. He established himself as a receiver to be aware of in San Diego.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
While the jury is still out on first-round pick E.J. Manuel there is no doubt about linebacker Kiko Alonso. The Bills’ second-round pick was not only the best defensive rookie in the league, but one of the best defensive players overall. His 159 combined tackles were the third-highest in the NFL. He recorded 87 solo tackles and added four interceptions. All three of those stats were Buffalo team highs.
Coach of the Year
You may not like him, but Bill Belichick was the best coach in the NFL this year. The Patriots weathered a storm of injuries on their way to yet another divisional title and a 12-4 record. Belichick had his team winning games without several of his best defensive stars and a patchwork offense.