Every NFL team entered this week having played 12 of 16 regular-season games, so I got out my calculator and determined it was time for our King Sport Three-Quarters Awards. We preface them with a crazy thought: It is time to start considering Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck not just for the rookie of the year award — but for the league MVP, as well. The Colts (likely) or Redskins (possibly) making the playoffs would give each a platform for consideration.
•MVP: Peyton Manning, Broncos QB.
His stats (104.6 rating, 29 TD passes) and the way he has turned Denver around justify the favorite’s role. He’s also a sentimental pick coming off neck surgeries. You know who’s coming on strong, though? Tom Brady. And keep an eye on those aforementioned super-rooks — especially Griffin, if he can lead Washington to the playoffs. Halftime winner: Manning. 1Q: Falcons QB Matt Ryan.
•Offensive Player of the Year: Manning, Broncos QB.
Although the dual-threat Griffin has to be in the mix if he tops 3,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing. This is more of an individual-stats honor, so also keep in mind Vikes’ Adrian Peterson (if he tops 2K rushing) and Lions’ Calvin Johnson (if he breaks the season receiving-yards record). Halftime winner: Manning. 1Q: Ryan.
•Defensive POY: J.J. Watt, Texans DE.
He is first man to top 15 sacks and 15 passes defensed in a season. Close race, though. Denver’s Von Miller is a near cofavorite, and San Fran’s Aldon Smith — leading that Gold Rush with a league-high 17 1/2 sacks — also is earning attention. Halftime winner: Watt. 1Q: Watt.
•Offensive rookie: Robert Griffin III, Redskins QB.
Best race in this category in years, but RGIII’s phenomenal rookie numbers are such that even Colts QB Andrew Luck breaking the rookie passing yards record might not be enough. Halftime winner: Luck. 1Q: Griffin.
•Defensive rookie: Lavonte David, Buccaneers LB.
A huge November, including a league-best 40 solo tackles, has lifted David to forefront in wide-open race. Halftime winner: Patriots DE Chandler Jones. 1Q: Jones.
•Coach of the Year: Bruce Arians, Colts.
Why the heck not? Indy was 2-14 last year and now is 8-4 and playoff-bound, and a month into the season Arians took over when Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia. Great story, great season. Halftime winner: Bucs’ Greg Schiano. 1Q: Card’s Ken Whisenhunt.
•Dolphins MVP: Cameron “Earthwake” Wake, LB.
He’s fourth in the league with 11 sacks for a team that wins with defense. Halftime winner: DT Randy Starks. 1Q: RB Reggie Bush.
Scatter-shooting the league:
• Updated playoff likelihood via makenflplayoffs.com: AFC — Broncos, Patriots and Texans have clinched. Ravens 99.5 percent (can clinch this week), Colts 90.9 and Steelers 52.4. Next: Bengals 45.4. (Dolphins ninth at 3.3.) NFC — Falcons have clinched. 49ers 94.7 percent (can clinch this week), Packers 85.1, Bears 80.5, Giants 65.0 and Seahawks 58.3 Next: Redskins 35.7.
• Quick word on last week’s murder-suicide involving Chiefs LB Jovan Belcher. This isn’t about gun control, as Bob Costas tried to preach. It is about one young man who could not control his demons, shot to death his girlfriend (orphaning their baby daughter), then took his own life. Nothing about this tragedy indicates Belcher should be honored in any way. If Chiefs try to do so with a uniform patch, it should be disallowed.
• Peterson reached 8,000 rushing yards in his 85th game. Look at the company he keeps: Eric Dickerson (73 games), Jim Brown (80), Earl Campbell (83), Barry Sanders (83), Edgerrin James (84) and Emmitt Smith (85).