THE SANTA CLARA
November 3, 2016
AFC Champions – New England Patriots
New England’s the class of the NFL and will cruise through the AFC. Their offense is simply unstoppable, averaging 34 points per game since Tom Brady’s return. Brady has so many weapons to work with,including Rob Gronkowski, who already broke the franchise record for most receiving touchdowns. Dion Lewis’ return will make this unit even stronger.
New England’s defense is lethal as well. The Patriots allow just 16.5 points per game, good for third in the NFL. It’s all but assured that the road to the Super Bowl runs through Gillette, and there’s no way Trevor Siemian and the Broncos or the always-hobbled Ben Roethlisberger and his Steelers are taking down the Patriots.
NFC Champions – Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks have not been impressive this year, but neither has the entire NFC. By process of elimination, Seattle has to be favorites to reach the Super Bowl. Carolina and Arizona are a mess, and the Packers have been out of sync all year. Other than Seattle, the only other semi-impressive teams have been the Falcons, Vikings and Cowboys. But Atlanta has no defense to speak of; Minnesota has Sam Bradford and Dallas is about to ruin their season by replacing Dak Prescott with Tony Romo.
To their credit, Seattle’s defense remains elite and Russell Wilson always plays his best in the playoffs. But the Seahawks still don’t have enough to take down the Patriots.
MVP – Tom Brady
It doesn’t make sense for Tom Brady to win MVP. He’s 39 years old and was forced to sit four games after the Goodell’s disgraceful Deflategate suspension. But the sixth round draft pick continues to defy expectations.
Brady’s completing 73.1 percent of his passes, has 12 touchdowns, zero interceptions and leads the NFL with a 133.9 QB rating. And sure the Pats fared alright without Brady, but they’re so much better with #12 under center. In Week 4, New England lost 16-0 to Buffalo in their final game without Brady. Last week, Brady and Co. put up 41 in their route of Rex Ryan’s Bills.
Defensive Player of the Year – Von Miller
With J.J. Watt out for the season, it’s unclear who’ll win this award. The truth is that no player has been dominant this year and this title is still very much up for grabs. But given his pedigree and strong start, Von Miller has to be the favorite.
Despite facing constant double teams, he’s on pace for 17 sacks, 66 tackles and two forced fumbles. Denver’s defense continues to carry this team and Miller deserves most of the credit for this success. He’s a headache for every offensive coordinator and always seems to play his best in crunch time. It’s rare for a teams most valuable player to come from the defense, but Miller is just a special talent.
Coach of the Year – Bill Belichick
Belichick probably won’t win this award since we’ve become accustomed to his brilliance. It’s not an achievement anymore for the Pats to win 12+ games—it’s expected. But Belichick’s the best coach in the leauge and there’s not a close second.
He guided the Pats to a 3-1 start without his Hall of Fame quarterback and has his team clicking on all cylinders. The trade of Pro-Bowl linebacker Jamie Collins shocked many, but we should know by now to never doubt the Hoodie.
He’ll cement his place in history when he hoists his fifth Lombardi trophy this February.
Comeback Player of the Year – Matt Ryan
The Falcons are heavy favorites to win the NFC South and that’s largely due to the play of Matt Ryan. Ryan wasn’t bad last year, but he’s never played like this before. In the first eight years of his career, he never posted a QB rating over 100. This year his QB rating is 115.8 and he leads the league in passing yards and touchdowns.
It helps to have best receiver in the game, but by no means is Ryan dependent on Julio Jones. Last week, Jones caught just three passes for 29 yards, yet Matty Ice and the Falcons still put up 33 points in their last minute win over the Packers.
Offensive ROY – Ezekiel Elliot
Elliott has the benefit of running behind the best offensive line in football, but it’s still hard to argue with the numbers he’s posted. Elliott is averaging five yards per carry and has five touchdowns on the year. He’s also a threat in the passing game, averaging 10 yards per carry. Health is the only obstacle in the way of Elliott winning this award.
Defensive ROY – Jalen Ramsey
Ramsey has been one of the lone bright spots in the otherwise miserable Jaguars season. He’s fourth on the team in tackles with 30, but his true impact isn’t shown on the stat sheet. Last year Jacksonville ranked 29th in passing defense; currently their eighth in the league in yards allowed.
Contact Andrew Slap at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.