Awards Watch (cont.)
Defensive Player of the Year
1. James Harrison, LB, Steelers (1)
2. Albert Haynesworth, DT, Titans (2): The mammoth Pro Bowl tackle anchors the middle of the Titans' third-ranked defense. Haynesworth not only clogs the middle against the run, but his exceptional rush skills have keyed a pass rush that has generated the seventh-most sacks in the league (35).
3. Troy Polamalu, S, Steelers (3): The league leader in interceptions (7) continues to come up with big plays for the Steelers' suffocating defense. When the three-time Pro Bowl safety is not picking off passes, he is helping the team limit runners to a league-low 3.2 yards per carry.
4. Joey Porter, LB, Dolphins (NR): The loquacious three-time Pro Bowl linebacker has been dominant for the surprising Dolphins. Porter's ability to put consistent pressure on the quarterback has led the team to six wins in the past seven games. He leads the league with 16.5 sacks.
5. Ed Reed, S, Ravens (NR): The quintessential playmaker continues to deliver game-changing plays for the Ravens. The former Defensive Player of the Year's 22-yard fumble return touchdown against the Redskins was his third defensive score of the season, and his two interceptions increased his season total to five.
Coach of the Year
1. Jeff Fisher, Titans (1): The Titans have ended the Colts' five-year reign over the AFC South, and Tennessee should have the road to the Super Bowl running through Nashville.
2. John Harbaugh, Ravens (4): The Ravens' blueprint for winning games is eerily similar to the game plan that brought the franchise a Super Bowl title in 2000.
3. Tony Sparano, Dolphins (NR): The Dolphins are poised to go from laughingstocks to division champs in Sparano's first season.
4. Mike Smith, Falcons (3): The Falcons' surprising ascension to playoff contention boosts Smith's case. Not even the most optimistic of Falcons' followers could've expected such a sudden turnaround for the franchise.
5. Tom Coughlin, Giants (2): The Giants have been the NFC's best team all season. The no-nonsense coach has pushed all of the right buttons in making this team into a champion, and will continue to do so with the pressure mounting down the stretch.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
1. Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons (1): The Falcons' star has been so sensational that his name is already etched on the trophy with three weeks to go.
2. Matt Forte, RB, Bears (2): The rookie sensation has amassed at least 100 yards from scrimmage in six consecutive games. He's the league's sixth-leading rusher and is the leading receiver among running backs with 53 catches.
3. Chris Johnson, RB, Titans (3): The AFC's second-leading rusher topped the 100-yard mark for the second consecutive week, and for the fourth time this season.
4. Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens (4): The Ravens' young leader has thrown at least one touchdown in eight consecutive games while leading the team to seven victories in those eight contests.
5. Steve Slaton, RB, Texans (5): The dazzling runner has been off the hook with three 100-yard rushing games in the last four weeks. Slaton's four runs over 40 yards lead the league, and he is the league's seventh-leading rusher with 1,024 yards.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
1. Jerod Mayo, LB, Patriots (1): The Patriots' star linebacker leads all rookies in tackles (103) and is a lock to take home the defensive rookie honor at season's end.
2. Curtis Lofton, LB, Falcons (2): Though he doesn't make many standout plays, Lofton's consistency has allowed Keith Brooking and Michael Boley to roam freely off the edges.
3. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Cards (3): The Cards' burgeoning shut-down corner has been sensational since stepping into the lineup. Rodgers-Cromartie has picked off three passes, and leads all rookies with 18 passes defensed.
4. Kenny Phillips, S, Giants (5): The Giants' top pick has shown a strong nose for the ball whenever he has been in the game. Phillips' 60 tackles rank second on the team, and are the fifth-most stops of any rookie defender.
5. Chris Horton, S, Redskins (4): The 'Skins rookie safety has been a solid addition. His timely playmaking and knack for big hits has sparked the league's sixth-ranked defense.