Spark Sports NFL Analyst’s Sean Mason, Parth Shah, and Ted Van Green give their regular season award winners:
Most Valuable Player (MVP)
Sean Mason: QB Cam Newton- Carolina Panthers
Up until this past week Newton wasn’t my MVP, but after a great performance and a sub-par game by Carson Palmer, Newton is the clear choice. He’s the best player on the team with the best record. He’s the catalyst of the NFL’s number one offense, which averages over 30 points per game. Newton is the first quarterback in NFL history to finish a season with at least 30 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns.
Parth Shah: QB Cam Newton- Carolina Panthers
Some people may consider this a close vote, but there should be no reason that “SuperCam” doesn’t win. I don’t see this race as competitive as others, as Newton has clearly been a league-leading player. Without him, it would be fair to think the Panthers offense would be in the bottom half of the league, and Carolina may have struggled to even make the playoffs. With only one loss all season and electrifying play that took the league by storm, Newton was at his best in 2015. Sure, Tom Brady was his usual fantastic self and Palmer’s resurgence was crucial for Arizona, but Cam’s performance most clearly elevated his team’s level of play, great for not only Carolina but also the NFL moving forward.
Ted Van Green: QB Cam Newton- Carolina Panthers
Really there is no other pick, not Brady, not Palmer, not anyone else. The Panthers went 15-1, and he lost his best receiver in the preseason. Sure, Greg Olsen was still around, but after him, Cam was throwing the ball to Ted “stone hands” Ginn Jr. If you think that anyone besides Cam deserves MVP, take a look at the situations. You will find that Cam Newton was the most valuable player in the 2015 season.
Offensive Player Of The Year
Sean Mason: WR Antonio Brown- Pittsburgh Steelers
Brown finished the season tied atop the league leader in receptions, second in yards, and had ten touchdowns. He did this despite his quarterback missing four games this season. If that hadn’t happened, Brown would have shattered the NFL’s reception and yardage record. Brown is the best skill player in the NFL and it’s not even close.
Parth Shah: WR Antonio Brown- Pittsburgh Steelers
You would think the MVP would tend to be the offensive player of the year, but voting has not been consistent in this area, as there are often conflicting views on each award. It was hard to choose between Brown and Julio Jones, but I leaned towards the player who’s team made it into the playoffs. Without Brown, the Steelers offense was mild at best, and his prolific, game-changing ability has also made his fellow receivers, such as Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton, better targets. Odell Beckham was also considered, but the sophomore record breaker fell just short. If it doesn’t go to a QB, either of the three wideouts would be tremendous choices for this award.
Ted Van Green: WR Antonio Brown- Pittsburgh Steelers
I wanted to pick Russell Wilson, but it felt as if the Seahawks offense stalled at points this year. Brown meanwhile, spent the year reminding us why he is the best receiver in the league. He finished with the 4th most receiving yards in a single season, including a game in which he had the 9th most receiving yards in a single game. This is not to discredit Wilson, but Brown was dominant this year.
Defensive Player Of The Year
Sean Mason: DE J.J. Watt- Houston Texans
Having already won two defensive player of the year awards, Watt is already in exclusive company, but with another he would tie Lawrence Taylor, the greatest defensive player to ever live, for the most defensive player awards. Watt led the league in sacks with 17.5, despite being double and sometimes triple teamed on almost every play. Watt routinely dominates opposing offensive linemen. He is clearly the best defensive player in the league.
Parth Shah: DE J.J. Watt- Houston Texans
Is there anyone that can compete with JJ Watt? The defensive end is in a league of his own on the field and was a consistent pass rushing force week in and week out. Josh Norman played lights out coverage this season and really came into his own, and Chandler Jones sparked a record Patriots pass rush, but Watt was a one-man wrecking crew. With the Texans rotating at QB more than a carousel at a theme park, JJ provided stability on the defensive end and was critical in getting Houston into the playoffs.
Tedd Van Green: DE J.J. Watt- Houston Texans
The reigning NFL top 100 player had himself a pretty damn good season. He finished with 17.5 sacks, 2.5 more than any other player. My favorite stat, brought by Bill Barnwell, is that he had 50 QB hits in 2015, and the player with the second most, Aaron Donald, finished with 37. Watt was his disruptive self again this year, he just wasn’t scoring touchdowns or nearly setting sack records. Just because this wasn’t the best Watt season of all time, does not mean he is not the DPOY
Offensive Rookie Of The Year
Sean Mason: RB David Johnson- Arizona Cardinals
Of all the rookies in consideration for this award, Johnson is the only active player on a playoff team. He led all rookies in touchdowns total touchdowns with 11 and finished with 994 yards from scrimmage, despite only starting five games. But, what Johnson has done for the Cardinals, giving them a legitimate starting running back that can take over a game on any given carry, is why I think he deserves this award.
Parth Shah: RB Todd Gurley- St. Louis Rams
This was also a difficult choice, more than I initially anticipated. Johnson was a game-changer for the Cardinals and proved dynamic with almost every touch. He exploded onto the scene and took the reigns of that backfield, and he has the makings of a star in the league. However, I went with Gurley for one big reason. He provided all of this explosiveness as well, while immediately becoming the focal point of the Rams offense. Whereas Johnson is one of many weapons on the field for Arizona, Gurley, once healthy, stepped in and became the workhorse and offensive threat missing in St. Louis for so long.
Ted Van Green: RB Todd Gurley- St. Louis Rams
There were a bunch of choices here, but I am going with Gurley, who is most likely the best rookie of the bunch. He looks like he could be the best running back in the league within the next year or so. He finished 3rd in the league in rushing, with 4.8 yards per carry. Gurley accomplished this all on a team without a QB, or at least it felt like he didn’t. Gurley was the best offensive rookie this year.
Defensive Rookie Of The Year
Sean Mason: CB Marcus Peters- Kansas City Chiefs
Peters not only led all rookies in interceptions and passes defended, but he led the entire NFL. As a rookie, Peters has established himself as a shutdown cornerback and he is on a playoff team. Without Peters, there is a good chance the Chiefs ten game winning streak wouldn’t have happened.
Parth Shah: CB Marcus Peters- Kansas City Chiefs
One of the easier awards picks, Peters immediately stepped into the Chiefs secondary and solidified it, playing like a veteran from the beginning and showing few signs of weakness or lack of experience all year. Ronald Darby was impressive in the Bills secondary as well, but his impact was far less significant. Peters’ play was vital during Kansas City’s unbeaten streak, and his play has helped propel the team into the playoffs.
Ted Van Green: CB Marcus Peters- Kansas City Chiefs
Peters finished with 8 interceptions, and was one of the best players on a defense that was the best in the second half of the year. There have only two other defensive rookies to record 8 INTs in a season, that is how good Peters was this year. I think Peters is a no-brainer for this award.
Coach Of The Year
Sean Mason: Andy Reid- Kansas City Chiefs
After starting 1-5 and losing Jamaal Charles the season looked like a lost cause for the Chiefs, that was until the team rattled off ten consecutive wins and earned the fifth seed in the AFC playoffs. This team’s success falls on the shoulders of Andy Reid. He lost his supposed best player and the team still rattled off ten straight. He’s gotten the most out every single player on that roster. That’s good coaching.
Parth Shah: Mike Zimmer- Minnesota Vikings
here are a number of impressive candidates for Coach of the Year, which made this award so difficult to select. Bill Belichick has done a fantastic job with New England, overcoming an onslaught of injuries. Ron Rivera and Bruce Arians have turned the Panthers and Cardinals respectively into NFL juggernauts; the records speak for themselves. However, I believe Coach Zimmer has been tremendous in Minnesota, turning the franchise almost completely around. He has inspired confidence in his players, and they have responded, unseating the mighty Green Bay Packers and ending their reign as kings of the NFC North.
Ted Van Green: Ron Rivera- Carolina Panthers
I really did not want to pick Riverboat Ron, but after I thought about it I had to pick him. The Panthers were without Luke Kuechly or Charles Johnson, two of their better defensive players at different time this year. As stated in the MVP section, the receiver cupboard was bare for most of the season. Rivera did the best job with a roster that was depleted in various spots at different points of the season. As much as I did not want to give it to him, Rivera takes coach of the year.
Comeback Player Of The Year
Sean Mason: QB Carson Palmer- Arizona Cardinals
At age 35, Palmer did something nobody thought he could. He came back from a second torn ACL, and has looked better than he did before, lading his team to a 13-3 record. He’s playing the best football of his career, setting career highs in yards, touchdowns, passer rating, and quarterback rating.
Parth Shah: WR Larry Fitzgerald- Arizona Cardinals
Man, it is nice to have Fitz back. After a couple years of play that had us believing he was regressing, he stepped up in a big way this season with the resurgence of Palmer and the Cardinals. Finally getting consistent QB play and targets, and great personal fitness, Fitzgerald showed some of his old explosiveness and was a big key to the Arizona offense. Brandon Marshall also showed signs of his younger self, providing the new look Jets with a big play receiver that they’ve so desperately needed for years.
Ted Van Green: FS Eric Berry- Kansas City Chiefs
He beat cancer. Sure Carson Palmer is going to end up on the fringes of the MVP debate, but he didn’t beat cancer and come back and play at a high level. That is the simple reason for Berry. No offense to Carson Palmer, but Eric Berry should win this award in a landslide.
Sean Mason, Parth Shah, Ted Van Green
Spark Sports NFL Analysts