NFL Honors Watch: Peyton Manning, J.J. Watt lead


Gregg Rosenthal takes a weekly look at the MVP race and one other award to be given out at the "NFL Honors" awards in February.

MVP Forecast

1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
2. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs

How do you determine "value" when determining the MVP?

One option: Imagine what a team would look like without it's best player. The Kansas City Chiefs would have one of the NFL's worst offenses without Charles.

Just three running backs in NFL history have started a season with 100 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown in each of the first six games of the season: O.J. Simpson in 1975 and Jim Brown in 1958. This is the type of company Charles is keeping.

In a league in which record passing numbers emerge weekly and high-paid running backs routinely are struggling, Charles and the Chiefs are throwbacks. Kansas City is 6-0 despite owning one of the worst passing attacks in football. That only works if a team has a true workhorse back. Charles is the rare runner who doesn't sacrifice explosiveness for a heavy workload. He's fifth in rushing attempts and second in rushing yards.

There's a point in nearly every game when the Chiefs, while holding a slim lead, start giving Charles the ball on nearly every snap. He's the best closer in the league right now.

3. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
4. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles

As great as Charles has been for the 6-0 Chiefs, McCoy is leading the league in yards from scrimmage by 96 yards. He's not too far off the pace of Chris Johnson's all-time record.

5. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
6. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

I don't get too carried away with records when thinking about MVP. Rivers has carried his team, and the wins will come at a faster pace if he keeps it up.

Since Chris Wesseling ably handled the rookie rankings in writing and on our podcast, let's focus on DPOY as our other award to preview this week.

Defensive Player of the Year

1. J.J. Watt, Houston Texans

Watt is coming off the quietest game of his career after the St. Louis Rams sold out to stop him. The Texans have two wins. And there still is no question in my mind that Watt has been the most consistently dominant defensive player in the league this year. It's not that close.

2. Justin Houston, Kansas City Chiefs
3. Terrell Suggs, Baltimore Ravens

Houston has been the best outside pass rusher in football thus far, although his teammate Tamba Hali is not far behind. Suggs quietly has had a dominant season in Baltimore. He has to be the most complete outside linebacker in football, combining great run-stopping with quarterback pressure.

4. Cameron Jordan, New Orleans Saints
5. Jason Hatcher, Dallas Cowboys
6. Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks

I'm going to keep listing Hatcher until he stops making multiple game-changing plays every single week. Jay Ratliff should be forced to give Hatcher all of his money.

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