The NFL enters the final quarter of its regular season this week, and it occurs that baseball enjoys a distinct metaphor edge with “rounding third and heading for home,” which offers a more pleasing visual than two teams simply coming out of a television timeout and resuming play. Anyway, time for our King Sport Third-Quarter Awards:
• MVP — Peyton Manning, Broncos QB: Don’t believe what you’re hearing. It isn’t Russell Wilson or Cam Newton or anybody else. Right now it’s still Peyton. His 4,125 yards are more than anybody ever through 12 games. His 41 TD passes are 12 more than second place. His team is 10-2. He’s playing on a gimpy ankle behind a so-so line. C’mon! Peyton should have won this last year but they gave it to Adrian Peterson. Won’t happen again. (Halftime and 1Q leader: Manning).
• Offensive Player of the Year — Manning: Unless the Vikes’ Peterson or Lions’ Calvin Johnson tops 2,000 yards rushing or receiving, Peyton might be even more likely to win this than MVP. Setting records for passing yards or TDs would cinch it.
• Defensive POY — Richard Sherman, Seahawks CB: Sherman has lapped Darrelle Revis as the NFL’s best cover-corner and is the catalyst for a team that wins with defense first. Drawback: Might not even be best player in own backfield. S Earl Thomas might be. Also keep eye on Colts LB Robert Mathis and Panthers LB Luke Kuechly. (Halftime leader: Thomas. 1Q: Chiefs LB Justin Houston).
• Offensive Rookie of the Year — Keenan Allen, Chargers WR: His 58 catches for 843 yards lead all rookies, by a lot. No rook QB has done enough. Packers RB Eddie Lacy is in hunt. (Halftime leader: Lacy. 1Q: Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins).
• Defensive ROY — Sheldon Richardson, Jets DT: Defense, especially against the run, is all the Jets have going for them, and Richardson is the big reason. (Halftime and 1Q leader: Bills LB Kiko Alonso).
• Coach of the Year — Ron Rivera, Panthers: Betting fave still is Chiefs’ Andy Reid, but sensing serious gap closing by the guy who has Carolina on eight-game roll. A great nickname, “Riverboat Ron,” couldn’t hurt. (Halftime leader: Reid. 1Q: Sean Payton, Saints).
• Dolphins MVP — Ryan Tannehill, QB: Olivier Vernon is the flavor of the week, Charles Clay has been a pleasant surprise and Mike Wallace is (finally) coming on, but the second-year QB is on pace to throw for 4,153 yards and is better across the board. (Halftime leader: P Brandon Fields. 1Q: Tannehill).
• Updated playoff likelihood entering Week 14, via makenflplayoffs.com — AFC: Broncos 99.9 percent, Colts 99.6, Chiefs 98.9, Patriots 98.3, Bengals 91.5 and Ravens 42.5. (Dolphins are next at 34.2). NFC: Seahawks 100 percent, Saints 96.2, Panthers 94.2, Lions 76.1, 49ers 71.1 and Cowboys 64.7.
• Betting odds for that No. 6 AFC seed, courtesy Bovada: Ravens at 5-4, Dolphins 7-5, Steelers and Chargers both 7-1, Titans 10-1, Jets 20-1.
• With three weeks left in Pro Bowl voting at nfl.com, punter Brandon Fields (third) and center Mike Pouncey (sixth) are only Dolphins in the top 10 at their position.
• Manning is 10-0 in division games with Denver. Only Kurt Warner (11) won more division games in a row with a new team since the 1970 merger.
• Redskins LB London Fletcher has played in 252 consecutive games, fourth-longest streak after punter Jeff Feagles (352), QB Brett Favre (299) and DE Jim Marshall (282).