Most Valuable Player: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Matt Ryan and the Falcons might have played a relatively soft schedule (who hasn't?), but they've won every game on it so far. Ryan has been outstanding all season, and is certainly worthy of the honor. But his team has been healthy, and he has at least one running back. Rodgers leads the NFL with 25 touchdown passes (thru 9 games), and has been doing it with a mediocre offensive line and injuries taking away some of his favorite targets. Ryan's undefeated, but Rodgers is dominating with issues all over the Packers' roster.
Defensive Player of the Year: Peanut Tillman, CB, Chicago Bears
I wrote about Tillman getting this award over JJ Watt this weekend. Also worthy of consideration are Clay Matthews in Green Bay and Patrick Willis in San Francisco.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Yes, RGIII is getting a lot of attention in Washington. But consider that Luck has the same number of passing yards as Peyton Manning and has the 5-3 Colts legitimately thinking playoffs. Let's also not forget that he put up over 300 yards in a losing effort against the Bears in his regular season debut, a performance that opened my eyes to how good this kid is already.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Bobby Wagner, LB, Seattle Seahawks
It's hard to pick between Wagner and linebacker Luke Kuechly in Carolina. Both are among the NFL's top ten in total tackles and are making an impact on a defense that desperately needed a game-changer. But Wagner has a couple sacks, more solo tackles, and is playing on a team with playoff potential in Seattle.
Coach of the Year: Chuck Pagano & Bruce Arians, Indianapolis Colts
Yes, teams that win divisions usually get more consideration for this award. Atlanta, Chicago, Denver and San Francisco will get a lot of consideration for this honor. But consider the job being done in Indianapolis, where the head coach is diagnosed with cancer after naming a rookie as his starting quarterback... and they're competing for a playoff spot. The emotion on that team is incredible, and the turnaround from last year has been amazing.
Comeback Player of the Year: Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos
He didn't take a single snap last year, and now he's putting up number we expect from the Peyton of old. The return to dominance has been remarkable for Manning, who is enjoying a running game with Willis McGahee for the first time since the Colts let Edgerrin James walk. The Broncos are a serious contender to win the AFC this year, and Manning hasn't missed a beat.
Biggest Disappointment: Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
Michael Vick and Tony Romo are close, but the (unrealistic) expectations put on Newton (mostly by fantasy football enthusiasts) have been left unfulfilled. His charismatic personality has slipped into a loser's depression, and his smile has disappeared as much as his enormous numbers.
Biggest Surprise: Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Martin will certainly get some love in the Offensive Rookie of the Year conversation moving forward. He's third in the NFL with nearly 800 rushing yards already on a team that's a playoff contender a year after many questioned their ability/willingness to commit to an offensive strategy. Also worthy of consideration here is Colts WR Reggie Wayne, who leads the NFL in receiving yards with a rookie calling the shots.
Super Bowl Prediction: Bears 27 - Broncos 20
Yes, I'm going there... homer all the way. The Bears defense has been that good this season, and I see them getting a shot at redemption against Peyton Manning on the world's biggest stage.