The NFL has its award show tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on CBS. The league will hand out its major awards for the season. Who deserves to go home with the hardware? Here are my choices.
MVP: Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
When you combine passing and rushing, Newton accounted for 45 touchdowns and just under 4,500 yards. He led his team to a 15-1 record. By the way, Ted Ginn was his second best receiver. TED GINN. The Panthers had a great defense, but I can't come up with another player who made such a difference for his team. That's why he's the MVP.
Offensive Player of the Year: Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
This award normally bothers me because I think it gets treated like a consolation prize for the guy who didn't win MVP. This year I think there is a legitimate split. Nobody in the league was more valuable than Newton, but Palmer's prolific season makes him deserve this award. He threw for 4,671 yards, but it wasn't just a case of compiling numbers. He averaged an incredible 8.7 yards per passing attempt.
Defensive Player of the Year: JJ Watt, Houston Texans
In the NBA, there is occasionally a player so dominant like Jordan or Shaq that the voters get bored of giving him the award every year. They concoct a narrative that gives somebody else a chance. Let's not overthink this one. Watt led the league in sacks. He led the league in quarterback hits. He led the league in tackles against the run for no gain or a loss.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams
For the second straight year, this award is going to a player who wasn't even healthy enough to play the first few games. Despite only playing in 13 games, Gurley finished third in the league in rushing yards and put up 10 touchdowns on the ground. He went over 125 yards in 5 separate games. It's really tough to conceive of a credible alternative.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Ronald Darby, Buffalo Bills
I expect Marcus Peters to win the award because he has the flashy interception totals. I think Darby was more consistent through the year, however. Peters might have been more likely to make the big play, but he was also more susceptible to giving it up. Darby was consistently difficult to get anything against.
Coach of the Year: Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers
Some people think this should go to the coach of the best team. Others think it should go to the coach who improved his team's win total the most. Others think it should go to the coach who beat preseason projections by the most. This year, it's the same guy for all three.
Comeback Player of the Year: Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs
I think this is an award heavy on narrative. The other awards are only about performance, but the Comeback Player of the Year is for the best story. Berry didn't just overcome lymphoma. He came back and had an All Pro season.