2013 NFL Postseason Award Predictions
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Every year, there are some postseason awards that are more obvious than others and those that can be more vigorously debated.
Below are my selections of the players I expect to win the main postseason awards with a runner-up included.
It was a record-setting campaign for Manning as he threw for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns, both of which broke the single-season records, and only 10 interceptions. Manning threw multiple touchdowns in all but one game this year and even more impressively, he threw four (or more) touchdowns in nine games this season. Nearly every week, it seemed as though the Broncos could score at will and they scored an NFL-record 606 points in the process.
With the exception of 2011 when Manning missed the entire season and had four neck surgeries, he played in all 16 games every other year. Since 2002, Manning's team (whether the Colts or Broncos) has won double-digit games. The Colts won only two games in the exception (2011). In his two seasons in Denver. Manning and the Broncos have compiled a 26-6 regular-season record.
While this will be a slam-dunk (most likely unanimous) choice, Manning will ultimately be evaluated based on the team's postseason success. To see how far the Broncos go this year, check out my round-by-round playoff predictions through Super Bowl XLVIII here.
- Runner-up: Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Offensive Player of the Year (past winners): Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
In general, it's extremely common for the MVP to also win this award as well. If that happens (as I expect), it is well-deserved considering how prolific of a season Manning had. That said, there are a few other viable candidates for the award as well.
One of my favorite preseason fantasy draft targets (my preseason bold predictions), Browns second-year receiver Josh Gordon led the NFL in receiving despite being suspended for the first two games of the season and with below-average quarterback play. As remarkable as Gordon's season was, runner-up comes down to Foles or Jamaal Charles for me.
Foles led the NFL in passer rating (119.2) and yards per pass attempt (9.1) while posting an impressive 27:2 TD-to-INT ratio even though he wasn't a full-year starter for the Eagles. Like Manning, Foles tied the NFL record for most passing touchdowns in a game this season with seven of them, but he thrived much more than I expected in Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense.
Although LeSean McCoy led the NFL in rushing and set the Eagles' single-season record for most yards from scrimmage, Charles was just as dominant and with less talent around him. Sitting the final game of the season, he set a career high in YFS (1,980) and had 100-plus YFS in more games (13) than any other player. In addition, he led the NFL with a gaudy 19 touchdowns (12 rushing, seven receiving).
- Runner-up: Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
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Edging out Rams defensive end Robert Quinn, Mathis led the NFL in sacks with 19.5. That total shattered his previous career high of 11.5 (2005, 2008). Seattle's Richard Sherman, who led the league with eight interceptions, was a close second for me.
I also strongly considered Navorro Bowman, who ranked fifth in the NFL in tackles (143), but he added 5.0 sacks, two interceptions and four forced fumbles. While Bowman likely won't finish in the top three in voting for the award, he's a guy that has been under-appreciated playing alongside such a talented teammate in Patrick Willis.
- Runner-up: Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks
Despite slipping to late part of the second round, Lacy finished eighth in the NFL in rushing (1,178 yards) and was only one rushing touchdown off the league lead with a total of 12. Sustaining a concussion on his first carry in Week 2 that also led him to miss the following week, Lacy's season didn't get going in earnest until Week 5 (after the team's Week 4 bye). Excluding the first three weeks of the season, the only back with more rushing yards than Lacy (1,127) was LeSean McCoy (1,212).
That said, this award choice is not a slam dunk as San Diego's Keenan Allen will get his fair share of votes for the award as well. Like Lacy, Allen was a huge value in the 2013 NFL Draft as he slipped all the way to the third round. Since the turn of the century, there have been only five 1,000-yard rookie receivers including Allen (1,046).
- Runner-up: Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
Only Cincinnati's Vontaze Burfict (171) and Jacksonville's Paul Posluszny (161) had more tackles this season than Alonso (159). Alonso, one of the team's second-round selections, added 2.0 sacks, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and four interceptions.
- Runner-up: Sheldon Richardson, New York Jets
After tearing his Achilles, Peters tore it again and missed all of the 2012 season. Despite the bad luck and twin surgeries, Peters was a first team All-Pro selection at offensive tackle in 2013 and helped pave the way for the Eagles to lead the NFL in rushing offense (160.4 yards per game, 5.1 yards per carry).
- Runner-up: Darrelle Revis, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
While his replacement in Philadelphia (Chip Kelly) is worthy of consideration as well, Reid turned a two-win team last year into an 11-win playoff team. Granted, the Chiefs were a talented squad before Reid got there, but that talented team didn't win without him.
There are plenty of other options that would be solid choices as well. After a 1-3 start, Ron Rivera led the Panthers to a strong turnaround that gave the team a first-round bye in the playoffs. Playing in arguably the toughest division in football, however, Arians did another remarkable job in Arizona after winning the award last year with the Colts.
- Runner-up: Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals