1. Chad Pennington, QB, Miami: Pennington's stats won't blow you away (although he did league the NFL in completion percentage). However, his intangibles will. He led a team that went 1-15 last season to the playoffs despite signing with the team a few short weeks before Week 1. He changed the culture in Miami. The MVP Award would look great next to his second Comeback Player of the Year Award.
2. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota: Every week, Peterson was the focus of the opponent's game plan. Despite this, he averaged 4.8 yards per carry and led the league in rushing.
3. Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis: Manning is the unquestioned leader of a team that won eight games by seven points or less.
1. Tony Sparano, Miami: With Pennington's help, Sparano, a rookie head coach*, led one of the most impressive turnarounds of all time. He's a no-nonsense type guy. Want proof?
Dolphins lead the Jets 24-17 with five seconds left in their Week 17 tilt. With a win, the Dolphins clinch a playoff spot one year after going 1-15. The Jets have the ball at their own 7 yard line. Sparano has just been doused with Gatorade. Think he's content? No chance. He screams at his players to back off the sideline, typically a job assigned to an assistant coach, to ensure they don't get flagged for a "too many men" penalty. He does not smile until the clock shows 0:00. Just shows his attention to detail.
2. John Harbaugh, Baltimore: Rookie head coach* took over an underachieving 5-11 squad and led them to an 11-5 record.
3. Mike Smith, Atlanta: Rookie head coach* overcame the Vick fiasco in a big way.
*Take solace Jets, Browns, and Broncos fans; the right head coach can turn things around in a hurry. Lions fans, you are on your own.
Offensive Player of the Year
1. Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta: Turner finished second in the league in rushing and added 17 touchdowns, an impressive showing by a first-year starter.
2. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans: Brees finished sixteen yards short of setting the all-time single-season passing yards record. He also led the league with 34 passing touchdowns.
3. Andre Johnson, WR, Houston: Johnson led the league in receptions and receiving yards. He's the most dominant wideout in the league.
Defensive Player of the Year
1. James Harrison, LB, Pittsburgh: Harrison led the league in forced fumbles, finished fourth in sacks, and quarterbacked the NFL's best defense.
2. Ed Reed, S, Baltimore: Reed, ever the ball hawk, recorded a league-leading nine interceptions and scored three defensive touchdowns.
3. DeMarcus Ware, LB, Dallas: Ware led the league in sacks and finished second in the league in forced fumbles.
Wild Card Weekend Picks
Amazingly, all four home teams are underdogs this weekend.
Arizona +2: I can't bring myself to back a rookie quarterback on the road in his playoff debut no matter how poorly the Cardinals have played recently.
San Diego +1: The Colts have been the league's luckiest team winning nine games by 10 points or less. I think that luck runs out here against, arguably, the league's hottest team.
Miami +4: Although the Dolphins have a home field disadvantage (worst fans in football), I'll take the points in a game that figures to be low-scoring.
Minnesota +3: I trust Tarvaris Jackson and Brad Childress a little more than I trust Andy Reid. Why? Because Jackson and Childress can lean on Adrian Peterson and because I love Minnesota's rush defense.
For good measure, I'll take the Chargers (+1100) and the Vikings (+2800) to win the Super Bowl.
This blog was created to form a medium of exchange where sports fans can share ideas, beliefs, and opinions. The creator has written for a number of websites and has appeared on ESPN Radio as an NFL Draft, MLB Trade Deadline and Fantasy Sports Analyst. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org