So, who’s this year’s NFL MVP?
Logic would dictate that someone like Tom Brady or Michael Vick or Matt Ryan or Arian Foster. Typically, the skill position players on winning teams have the best chance, but I don’t think that’s always fair.
Every NFL team, even the bad ones, have a few standouts who, well, don’t stand out.
As I give this week’s NFL picks, wherein many playoff scenarios can be solved, I’ll hand out the “BSMVP” awards. In this case, BS stands for “best supporting”. There’s another kind of BS, but that’s reserved for how the Shanahans operate business.
So here we go.
FOR THE YEAR: 143-81
16. Philadelphia over Minnesota
Eagles BSMVP: Moise Fokou (linebacker): Since his insertion into the starting line-up over veteran Akeem Jordan, the Eagles run defense has improved to giving up only 103.3 yards a game, stuffing the Giants stalwart run game, as well as keeping the likes of Arian Foster and Felix Jones from ripping off big gains. The pass protection is poor in Philly, but the run-stopping has improved, largely thanks to Fokou.
Vikings BSMVP: Chad Greenway (linebacker): While the Vikings defensive line hasn’t been able to wreak as much havoc as last season, Greenway’s held down the next line of defense. As a durable workhorse linebacker, Greenway has amassed 127 tackles, and also of note, has only missed one start in the last 4 seasons. That’s a tough dude.
Game: Eagles are playing for #2 seed, and it looks like a shaky Joe Webb is in their crosshairs. A 28 point comeback won’t be necessary here.
SCORE: Eagles 34, Vikings 14
15. New England over Buffalo
Patriots BSMVP: Danny Woodhead (running back/wide receiver): Quickly becoming a fan favorite as a pint-sized scrapper, Woodhead has become a hybrid of Wes Welker and old Craig James, coming either from out of the backfield, or over the middle as just another gizmo for Tom Brady to enjoy.
Bills BSMVP: Ryan Fitzpatrick (quarterback): The Harvard grad could never find stable ground in St. Louis and Cincinnati, but an unlikely second half of the season in Buffalo sees an equally unlikely rise. Fitzpatrick’s QB rating is currently 85.9, and is leading the Bills to tough victories without Marshawn Lynch and Lee Evans.
Game: The Patriots want that home field to be locked up, and Bill Belichick will give no quarter to a trouble-making underdog like Buffalo.
SCORE: Patriots 41, Bills 21
14. Pittsburgh over Carolina
Steelers BSMVP: Dick LeBeau (defensive coordinator): Troy Polamalu may be the heart of the defense on the field, but on the sidelines, LeBeau keeps renewing the “Steel Curtain” of old, effectively managing the punishing pass rush. The Steelers D allows less than 64 yards a game, almost 25 yards better than second place.
Panthers BSMVP: Captain Munnerlyn (cornerback): A corner who can tackle effectively, and has shown amazing speed on kick and punt returns. The defense is far from Carolina’s problem, and Munnerlyn is an impact player in his second season.
Game: Mike Goodson and Jonathan Stewart have a better chance of proving that Santa Claus is real than they do running down the Steelers’ throat.
SCORE: Steelers 31, Panthers 7
13. Baltimore over Cleveland
Ravens BSMVP: David Reed (wide receiver): No catches for no yards, but on 21 kickoff returns, he’s averaging an incredible 29.3 yards a return, and took one to the house for 103 yards. Taking Baltimore’s D in fantasy is a given, but the special teams of Reed make them more lucrative.
Browns BSMVP: Joe Haden (cornerback): The rookie corner is an effective tackler, netting 53 through 14 games, while playing game changer, making five picks, several of which were second half heartbreakers for opposing teams.
Game: The Ravens and Steelers battle of one-upsmanship continues, and I think the stalemate continues once Peyton Hillis coughs up a few fumbles to an eager Ravens D.
SCORE: Ravens 27, Browns 10
12. Indianapolis over Oakland
Colts BSMVP: Jacob Tamme (tight end): Tamme’s pulled off quite the Dallas Clark impression, netting 53 grabs for 486 yards and three touchdowns, benefitting nicely from being Clark’s understudy for the previous two seasons.
Raiders BSMVP: Jacoby Ford (wide receiver): For once, a Raiders receiver displays flashes of brilliance. Ford’s heroics lifted Oakland to an unlikely win over the Chiefs in overtime, and has proven to be a deadly kick returner in the Devin Hester mold.
Game: The Raiders need this. The Colts don’t care. Indy’ll return to form, striding toward another division crown, and ending the Raiders’ storybook run.
SCORE: Colts 38, Raiders 24
11. Houston over Denver
Texans BSMVP: Derrick Ward (running back): You wouldn’t know it by the attention Arian Foster gets, but Ward’s returned to form after an off-year in Tampa Bay. Averaging 5.5 yards a carry, he compliments Foster immensely well.
Broncos BSMVP: Mario Haggan (linebacker): A breakout year for the 30 year old vet, anchoring an otherwise dismal defense 77 total tackles and five sacks, starting every game. Betcha he misses Mike Nolan.
Game: Speaking of missing Mike Nolan, if every Broncos fan hasn’t longed for his return by now, Matt Schaub unleashing “Air Texas” on them will.
SCORE: Texans 34, Broncos 17
10. Jacksonville over Washington
Jaguars BSMVP: Marcedes Lewis (tight end): A model of consistency, playing for the oft-ignored Jags, Lewis had seven total TDs in four seasons coming into 2010, but has nine on the year thus far, good for 637 yards. Any “best current tight end” debate should include Lewis.
Redskins BSMVP: Phillip Daniels (defensive end): Slowing down due to age (37), and has only started once this year, but Daniels wasn’t afraid to call out the lazy $100 million man, Albert Hayneworth, and rub his work ethic in his face. The NFL needs more truth-sayers like Daniels.
Game: The Jaguars really need this one. Something tells me that the one good thing for the Skins in this one will be Donovan McNabb NOT throwing up in Florida for once.
SCORE: Jaguars 28, Redskins 14
9. Kansas City over Tennessee
Chiefs BSMVP: Romeo Crennel (defensive coordinator): The Chiefs had, essentially, the worst defense in the league last year, and Romeo has them allowing a mere 107 yards a game, about 20.1 points a game (11th in the league), and poised to take the AFC West, with almost the same defense as a year ago.
Titans BSMVP: Jason Babin (defensive end): While the offense burns the candle at both ends with controversy and back-biting, Babin was a quiet free agent signing from the Eagles who even more quietly racked up 12 sacks this season. This Eagles fan just shakes his head.
Game: Kansas City doesn’t want their playoff hopes riding on beating Oakland in week 17, so they’d better pick their spots and wear down Tennessee on Sunday.
SCORE: Chiefs 27, Titans 14
8. San Diego over Cincinnati
Chargers BSMVP: Malcom Floyd (wide receiver): The holdout of Vincent Jackson cast a spotlight on Floyd, who rose to the occasion, becoming Philip Rivers’ top target at wideout. Despite only 35 catches, he’s averaging almost 19 yards per pull-in, tallied with six touchdowns.
Bengals BSMVP: Carlos Dunlap (defensive end): Only 18 tackles, but seven of them are sacks. A rookie who thrives in Mike Zimmer’s speed rush, Dunlap uses his 6’6, 277 pound frame to dominate the outside edge.
Game: The Chargers will be pulling for Tennessee, for beating the hapless Bengals (now without TO) puts them in striking distance of a division title that they’re used to having.
SCORE: Chargers 37, Bengals 24
7. St. Louis over San Francisco
Rams BSMVP: Rodger Saffold (offensive tackle): One rookie protecting another; Saffold protects the blind side of quarterback Sam Bradford, actually giving Bradford time to make decisions and reads. The Rams offensive line ranks fourteenth in the league in efficiency.
49ers BSMVP: Takeo Spikes (linebacker): 34 years old and still playing consistent defense. Spikes compliments Manny Lawson and Patrick Willis in the linebacking corps, racking up over 100 tackles and trying to hold down the fort after every offensive turnover.
Game: Please, somebody in this frigging division be 8-8. 49ers, do the right thing and take a dive here. You’ll get a better draft pick for it.
SCORE: Rams 24, 49ers 14
6. Tampa Bay over Seattle
Buccaneers BSMVP: Donald Penn (offensive tackle): Much of the efficiency of Josh Freeman and LeGarrette Blount can be traced to Penn, the only o-lineman in Tampa to start every game this year; a line that happens to be ranked tenth in the NFL. Penn’s quite durable, not having missed a start since 2007.
Seahawks BSMVP: Mike Williams (wide receiver): There’s something to be said for a good comeback story. Williams hadn’t played an NFL down since 2007 due to personal issues, but came roaring back for 720 yards and a touchdown, no doubt making his coach (college and current) Pete Carroll proud.
Game: Both teams shockingly have playoff aspirations. If Tampa loses, they’re all but erased. I look for the wounded warriors of the Gulf Coast to put their hearts into this one.
SCORE: Buccaneers 21, Seahawks 13
5. Detroit over Miami
Lions BSMVP: Shaun Hill (quarterback): Hill kept a ‘loser-franchise’ in many games this year, ponying up 13 touchdowns with a 61.3% completion percentage. One less turnover in each game, and the Lions may actually be in playoff contention, thanks to Hill’s metered leadership.
Dolphins BSMVP: Cameron Wake (linebacker): IDP fantasy league owners, take note: Wake’s 14 sacks have largely gone unnoticed by fans and the media alike. Either Mike Nolan truly IS a miracle worker, or Wake is a blue chipper about to pay off.
Game: The Lions can now win on the road, and the Dolphins suck at home. That’s my gut feeling for this one. I figure “Eh, why not”.
SCORE: Lions 20, Dolphins 13
4. Arizona over Dallas
Cardinals BSMVP: LaRod Stephens-Howling (running back): Averaging five yards a rush and 27.2 yards a kick return (with two touchdowns), Stephens-Howling demonstrates a versatility that is largely lacking in Arizona outside of Larry Fitzgerald.
Cowboys BSMVP: Jon Kitna (quarterback): Color me surprised. It helps to have a quarterback guy in Jason Garrett aiding you, but Kitna, at age 38, has done everything possible to run a smooth offense, and seems be the disciplining presence that a team with Tony Romo lacks.
Game: Here’s an upset for you: the Cardinals realize “Hey, we can still win the division!” and proceeds to empty their tray all over Dallas in same bizarre Christmas miracle. Ho ho ho.
SCORE: Cardinals 27, Cowboys 21
Packers BSMVP: John Kuhn (fullback): An unsung hero out of the backfield, Kuhn is like the white LeRon McClain. Running the ball, he’s a bone-rattler that’s hard to tackle. Catching it in the flat, he’s just as effective when Aaron Rodgers controls the defense. Kuhn’s a great puzzle piece on a future championship contender.
Giants BSMVP: Brandon Jacobs (running back): Attitude issues and foot injuries looked to put Jacobs on the path toward the pasture, but as the change-of-pace to Ahmad Bradshaw, Jacobs is raking in 5.8 yards a carry, and is just as frustrating to tackle as ever.
Game: Rodgers is healthy and raring to go, and you have to convince me that New York has gotten over Sunday’s “miraculous” shell shock. The Packers take this one to keep hope alive.
SCORE: Packers 21, Giants 17
2. New York Jets over Chicago
Jets BSMVP: Brad Smith (quarterback): Not many quarterbacks moonlight as kick return specialists, but 2 return TDs and a 29.1 yard return average say it’s possible. Did I mention Smith is also an effective wide receiver and wildcat QB? It’s like Kordell Stewart without the box cut.
Bears BSMVP: Earl Bennett (wide receiver): Bennett gets no love compared to Devin Hester and Johnny Knox, but he remains an effective part of Cutler’s passing merry-go-round. 45 catches, 547 yards, and 3 touchdowns are certainly more than many get.
Game: If the Jets can get “foot-gate” behind them, they have a chance to clamp down in the cold and surprise Chicago. Mark Sanchez is going to have to be mistake free, however.
SCORE: Jets 17, Bears 14
1. New Orleans over Atlanta
Saints BSMVP: Lance Moore (wide receiver): The Saints have so much star power that Moore, a stronger DeSean Jackson albeit not as fast, gets lost in the shuffle. His acrobatic catches aid Drew Brees when the likes of Marques Colston are double covered, and Devery Henderson can’t get open deep.
Falcons BSMVP: Mike Smith (head coach): The most ignored head coach in the NFL that’s championship material. Smith brings his pass-rushing knowledge from Baltimore (where he coordinated the D-line for the champs ten years ago), and lets Matt Ryan run the offense himself, giving him his vote of confidence. Hands on one way, faithful in another, and Smith may just be one of the smartest coaches out there.
Game: Just to make things interesting, let’s see a tie going into week 17. What the hell, right?
SCORE: Saints 24, Falcons 21
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