The final day of the 2010 NFL regular season is here, and it's been a memorable few months of football.
It seems like only yesterday when the Texans were being viewed as a Super Bowl contender, the Raiders were the league laughingstock and Josh McDaniels was a can't-miss coaching prospect.
Well, things change.
And they change on a weekly basis in the NFL. Some weeks players such as Philip Rivers will look like an MVP, and the next week his team is getting blown out by the Bengals. That's just how it is.
It takes an entire 16-game schedule to separate the pretenders from the contenders and determine which players are most deserving of annual awards. With just one game left to play, here are my picks for league awards — both real and imagined.
Most Valuable Player: Tom Brady, Patriots. Eagles quarterback Michael Vick appears to be Brady's closest competitor for the league MVP award, but I see it as no contest. Brady's numbers (34 touchdowns, four interceptions) are ridiculous, and his team has the best record in the league at 13-2. He is the best player on the league's top team. That's the definition of an MVP.
Least Valuable Player: Randy Moss, Patriots/Vikings/Titans. He talked his way out of New England and Minnesota and languishes on a losing Titans team. His stats for the 2010 season are paltry — 27 receptions for 375 yards and five touchdowns. He hasn't caught a pass since he had a 13-yard reception against Jacksonville on Dec. 5.
Offensive Player of the Year: Michael Vick, Eagles. He is playing the best football of his career and is the leader in fantasy points scored for the season. This is a fitting award for Vick. He doesn't deserve the MVP as much as Brady because he has missed games and the Eagles have lost games they should have won — like the one against the Vikings on Tuesday.
Defensive Player of the Year: Clay Matthews III, Packers. The high-motor Green Bay linebacker barely gets the nod over the Steelers' Troy Polamalu and the Ravens' Haloti Ngata. Matthews anchors an improving Packer defense, and opposing offenses have to account for his whereabouts on every play. He has 13 sacks, 58 tackles and two forced fumbles so far this season. And look at what a gentleman he is. He helps washed-up, attention-seeking divas off the turf after knocking them down — as pictured on this page.
Coach of the Year: Todd Haley, Chiefs. There are several coaches worthy of consideration, such as the Patriots' Bill Belichick, the Rams' Steve Spagnuolo and the Eagles' Andy Reid. I believe Haley deserves the award because of the Chiefs' improvement from a year ago, their division championship, and that they'll be a tough out in the playoffs. The Chiefs (10-5) were 4-12 and took last place in the AFC West last season.
Worst Coach of the Year: Wade Phillips, Cowboys. There is some solid competition here as well, as four coaches were fired, another (Carolina's John Fox) has been told he's coaching his last game today and others will certainly be terminated on Black Monday. Phillips gets the nod because of how lifeless the Cowboys were for half of the season and how they lost seven of their first eight games. That's completely unacceptable for a team that has as much talent as Dallas does.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Sam Bradford, Rams. The No. 1 overall pick of the 2010 draft has given the Rams new life. St. Louis was 6-42 in its last three seasons before Bradford came aboard. He has helped the Rams to a 7-8 record and a division title if they can beat Seattle tonight. Bradford has thrown for 3,357 yards and 18 touchdowns this season.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Ndamukong Suh, Lions. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft has been fun to watch. He is disruptive, and has recorded 60 tackles and nine sacks in his rookie season. He looks capable of being an All-Pro for many years to come.
Best Game of the Year: Steelers vs. Ravens, Dec. 5. I'm sure the pick for many people would be the Eagles' 38-31 win over the Giants two weeks ago. But that game didn't get interesting until midway through the fourth quarter, as the Eagles were rallying from a three-touchdown deficit. My favorite game of the year was excellent from start to finish, a well-played, defensive fistfight that came down to a couple of spectacular plays in the fourth quarter. The Steelers' 13-10 victory was one of the best football games I've ever seen.
Worst Game of the Year: Packers vs. Lions, Dec. 12. The Lions' 7-3 victory over the Packers was low-scoring like the memorable Steelers-Ravens game, but completely the opposite in every other way. Once Aaron Rodgers got hurt, the game came down to a duel between Drew Stanton and Matt Flynn — not exactly Joe Montana vs. Dan Marino. Stanton, the winning quarterback, had a passer rating of 39.4 for the game, and I had three hours of my life that I'll never get back for watching that punt-fest.1 comment on this story
Best Play of the Year: DeSean Jackson's 65-yard punt return for a touchdown to beat the Giants. Jackson capped the Eagles' rally from a 21-point, fourth-quarter deficit with a punt return for a touchdown on the game's final play. Jackson dropped the punt from New York rookie Matt Dodge, who was supposed to kick the ball out of bounds. Jackson then scooped it up, hesitated, found a seam and outran the punt coverage for the 65-yard score, giving Philadelphia a 38-31 win.
Quote of the Year: Sione Pouha, after the Jets were embarrassed by the Patriots, 45-3, in a Monday night game. The East High and former Utah Ute defensive tackle was asked how the loss felt. He responded, "This humble pie tastes like a car tire and it goes down like peanut butter. That's how it feels."