With the 2015 regular season in the books, here’s a look at who should take home the hardware…
MVP: Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
He’s an unorthodox choice considering his pedestrian passing numbers, but Newton still had three five-touchdown games in the second half of the season and had 45 passing and rushing scores. He was the heart and soul of a 15-1 team, which is impossible to deny.
Still, lots of kudos to Russell Wilson (who put together one of the best second halves in NFL history) and Carson Palmer (who was an absolute gunslinger with a league-high 8.7 yards-per-attempt average for the 13-3 Cardinals).
Offensive player of the year: Newton
I’m not one of those people who believes this award shouldn’t go to the MVP. Newton was the best offensive player in football, but if you don’t give this to him because he wins MVP, it’s gotta go to Palmer.
Defensive player of the year: J.J. Watt, Houston Texans
I fear Watt won’t win this award because he wasn’t as good as he was last year. But that’s ridiculous, because nobody’s ever been as good as he was last year and Watt was still clearly and indisputably the best defensive player in football despite spending a large chunk of the season with only one useful hand.
Watt still led the league with 17.5 sacks and forced three fumbles, carrying a Texans team that was forced to use four different starting quarterbacks to the playoffs. With all due respect to Khalil Mack, Aaron Donald and Luke Kuechly, this shouldn’t even be close.
Offensive rookie of the year: Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams
Despite missing three games and getting basically no help from a poor offense, Gurley finished third in the NFL with 1,106 rushing yards. He also finished with a league-leading seven 30-yard rushes. Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota had strong rookie seasons, but Gurley is the clear winner.
Defensive rookie of the year: Marcus Peters, Kansas City Chiefs
The No. 18 overall pick was tied for the league lead with eight interceptions, scoring on two of them. And he was also a stud in coverage, allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete just 50.4 percent of their passes. There’s a good chance nobody else gets a vote.
Coach of the year: Andy Reid, Chiefs
Ron Rivera will probably win this thing because the Panthers went 15-1, but Carolina is a lot more talented than Kansas City. And yet the Chiefs are on a 10-game winning streak and in the playoffs despite losing their best offensive player (Jamaal Charles) in October and their best defensive player (Justin Houston) in November.
This is a no-brainer. The Chiefs have no business in the playoffs, and they haven’t just been beating teams — they’ve been crushing them.