This week we get down to the nitty-gritty—Coach of the Year and MVP.
I think there are some worthy contenders this year, as there always are. Chip Kelly in Philadelphia, Bruce Arians in Arizona, Andy Reid in Kansas City and Ron Rivera in Carolina all stand out to me.
Sure, you can make an argument for Bill Belichick considering the injuries the Patriots overcame, and you could possibly argue that Rex Ryan took the New York Jets further than was expected.
But ultimately I feel like neither of those two really did anything so noteworthy compared to some of the others.
The two guys it really comes down to for me are Kelly and Arians, though Rivera gets a close third.
Rivera went from being on the hot seat to getting his team a first round bye. It's hard to balance that with his previous two seasons accounting for a pretty dismal 13-19 record—what changed? Was it the departure of offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and the addition of Mike Shula?
It's hard to put a finger on it and it doesn't feel like the success was purely coaching. They did run more effectively on the offensive side but their pass game was ranked No. 29 in the NFL. They did see a big turnaround in overall defense, going from No. 23 to No. 2 overall.
Again though, while Rivera made some bold moves (Hence the nickname "Riverboat Ron") he also made some bad ones as well.
Arians took a team which was abysmal offensively and helped make them the No. 12 offense in the NFL. He managed to make Carson Palmer—who looked awful in Oakland—look solid and nearly made the playoffs with a team most thought would be an outright joke this year.
The Eagles had more offensive talent—they were the No. 15 ranked offense in 2012—but took it to the next level under Kelly. The Eagles were hit and miss for part of the season due to injury, but they ended as the No. 2 offense in the NFL. Nick Foles was absolutely fantastic and LeSean McCoy had a career year.
Defensively the Eagles continue to struggle, though as always it's more due to a talent deficit than a failure of scheme.
Still, the edge for me goes to Arians. He too had personnel issues with the Cardinals offense—especially along the offensive line—but managed to improve that offense despite this.
I do give props to Reid in Kansas City, but that defense has been filled with talent for some time. As impressive as the Chiefs' early run was, dropping five out of seven games to end the season was ugly—even if you take away the official-assisted loss in Week 17.
MVP—now that's easy.
For me it's Peyton Manning.
I am impressed with how Tom Brady played with almost nobody to throw to but Manning's year has been unreal so it is hard to argue Brady at the end of the day.
All the records he broke, the dominating performances on an almost weekly basis (thanks for nothing Colts and Patriots) and his overall continued dominance since most of us wrote him off prior to the 2012 season add up to an MVP in my book.
I did consider a contrarian argument that Aaron Rodgers was the MVP due to the struggles the Packers had when he was out and the difference he made in Week 17.
But you don't win awards by your absence so, as much fun as that is, I can't argue that with a straight face.
Those are my thoughts on a lot (though not all) of the awards for the 2013 NFL season.
If you have questions as to why, let me know and I will answer them as best I can at some point soon.