Awards Watch: Week 14
It's a familiar fight between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning for the MVP award
Closing in on Michael Strahan's sack record, Aldon Smith is the favorite for DROY
The jobs done by Bruce Arians, Chuck Pagano in a unique situation are impressive
The pulse of the NFL season changes weekly. Every Tuesday, SI.com will break down the front-runners for the major NFL awards.
1. Tom Brady, Patriots (last week: 1). New England has won seven in a row and nine of 10, and Brady has thrown for multiple touchdowns in eight of those games. Overall, he has passed for 29 scores with just four interceptions. Think about that for a moment: Just over seven TD passes for every interception. Amazing.
2. Adrian Peterson, Vikings (2). He leads the league in rushing with 1,600 yards, including seven straight games with at least 100 yards. This despite being less than a year removed from major knee surgery and on an offense that has been held under 160 yards passing in five of the last seven games. In three, the Vikings failed to reach 100 yards passing.
3. Peyton Manning, Broncos (3). Thirty touchdown passes, eight straight wins, a completion percentage of at least 70.0 in eight of his last 10 games. Predictable, right?
1. Calvin Johnson, Lions (NR). He has six consecutive games with at least 120 yards receiving and has a chance to break Jerry Rice's league record for a full season. He also entered Sunday night with at least one touchdown in four straight games.
2. Aaron Rodgers, Packers (1). He didn't throw a touchdown pass in Sunday's win over Detroit, but it's frightening to think where Green Bay would be without him. He has carried the offense -- and the team -- for most of the year.
3. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals (NR). He has a total of six catches for only 67 yards and no touchdowns in his last four games, but I'm putting him here in hopes that the Cardinals' atrocious QB situation doesn't cause people to forget about one of the game's great receivers.
1. Aldon Smith, 49ers (1). The outside linebacker has had at least one sack in seven straight games, including two on Sunday against the Dolphins. Overall he has dropped a quarterback in every game but three, with multiple sacks in seven. He leads the league with 19.5 and is on pace to challenge the record of 22.5 that Michael Strahan set.
2. Von Miller, Broncos (2). The second-year outside linebacker can fill up a boxscore. He is third in the league with 16 sacks, has six forced fumbles, an interception, a touchdown and two pass breakups. He's on a roll with at least one sack in six straight games and eight of his last nine.
3. JJ Watt, Texans (3). He is second in the league with 16.5 sacks and leads all defensive linemen with 15 passes defensed. In fact, he's the first player in league history to have at least 15 sacks and 15 passes defended in the same season. He also has two forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.
1. Robert Griffin III, Redskins (1). A knee injury prevented him from being on the field for the key score at the end of regulation Sunday, but Griffin did set up the Redskins for the touchdown pass that Kirk Cousins threw. Overall he has thrown for 18 scores, with just four interceptions, and rushed for six touchdowns. More importantly he has helped Washington to four straight wins and a shot at the division title.
2. Andrew Luck, Colts (2). He has thrown 10 picks and only eight touchdowns over the last five games, but in the only statistic that matters -- wins -- he has his team contending for a playoff spot. Indy has won seven of its last eight, including five via comebacks in the fourth quarter or overtime.
3. Russell Wilson, Seahawks (3). He's often overshadowed by his more celebrated classmates, but Wilson has been money in recent weeks. He has thrown for 12 touchdowns with only two picks in his last six outings, sparking the Seahawks to a run for a playoff spot. Seattle has won four of five and has two of its final three at home, where the Seahawks are unbeaten.
1. Bobby Wagner, Seahawks (2). On a defense filled with talented veterans, the middle linebacker is more than making a name for himself by ranking first with 109 tackles. He also has two sacks, three interceptions and seven passes defensed.
2. Janoris Jenkins, Rams (1). A starter since Week 1, he has three interceptions, two of which he returned for scores, a fumble recovery for a touchdown, and 13 passes defensed.
3. Lavonte David, Bucs (3). The most impressive thing about him is not that he has been a starter since Week 1, but that he also makes all the defensive calls and consistently shows up when big plays need to be made. David also ranks second among rookies with 117 tackles and has four pass breakups and an interception.
1. Bruce Arians/Chuck Pagano, Colts (NR). I've been slow to jump on this train, but I've since purchased a ticket and am along for the ride. From having the league's worst record last season to controlling their playoff destiny with three games to play -- with Pagano out much of the season to battle cancer -- Arians and Pagano are deserving of the award.
2. Bill Belichick, Patriots (NR). He spent much of the first half tinkering and teaching, and now his club appears to be rounding into postseason shape with seven straight wins and nine in the last 10 games.
3. John Fox, Broncos (NR). Yes, people will pooh-pooh his candidacy and attribute much of Denver's eight straight wins to the presence of Manning. But don't forget that he led the Broncos to a division title last season with Tim Tebow at QB, so it ain't all about Manning.