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Tag:Indianapolis Colts
Posted on: December 24, 2011 9:56 am
Edited on: December 24, 2011 10:09 am
 

Kubiak sticking with T.J. Yates as Texans starter

Yates will keep on starting for Houston despite his struggles. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson


Follow all the Week 16 action live: Inactives | Scoreboard

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T.J. Yates was a heck of a story -- a rookie quarterback, drafted in the fifth round, the only Carolina quarterback to start an NFL game -- for a few weeks when the Texans were winning. Now, after two straight losses to the Panthers and Colts, he's the chief concern for the people of Houston.

But Gary Kubiak is riding out the rookie and said Friday that he's going to continue to start Yates over either Jake Delhomme or Jeff Garcia, both of whom were signed when Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart went down.

"Oh yeah, he’s done a lot of good things," Kubiak said when asked point-blank if Yates was starting. "I think T.J. continues to do some good things. I think he continues to get better, and like I said, for where we're heading here, he needs to continue to get better, and we just got to trust him and move forward."

The issue isn't so much Yates as it is the defense, however. The Texans have scored just 29 points in the last two games, but they've allowed 47 points after a stretch of seven-straight games where they didn't allow a team to score more than 20 points.

It shouldn't be considered a coincidence that this happened right after defensive coordinator Wade Phillips took a leave of absence (hey, maybe we should vote him for MVP!).

Yates' decision making needs to improve -- he fumbled against the Colts -- but it's not like he's making a pile of mistakes. Two interceptions against the Panthers were quite costly, but the Texans were losing and he still completed well over 50 percent of his passes. Against the Colts, Yates was 13 of 16.

The offense is more limited because a rookie quarterback's under center, but that's a pretty basic fact of life when you plug a young guy like Yates in with just a few weeks left in the season. The Texans wouldn't become an aerial assault team just because Delhomme or Garcia started taking snaps.

A simpler solution that would've kept these issues from surfacing? Stopping Dan Orlavsky from driving 78 yards in less than two minutes.

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Posted on: December 23, 2011 1:37 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 4:07 pm
 

Colts loss to Jaguars clinches No. 1 overall pick

Andrew Luck applauds the effort of teams trying to land the top pick. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

On Thursday night, the Colts theoretically -- as Gregg Doyel noted in his lose-lose column from the game -- shot themselves in the foot by beating Houston 19-16. After all, even though we play to win the games, you don't want to win so many games that you lose out on once-in-a-generation prospect Andrew Luck.

Fortunately, the Colts didn't totally sink their own battleship against the Texans -- the NFL confirmed on Friday, via Peter King of Sports Illustrated, that if the Colts lose to the Jaguars in Week 17, they will clinch the No. 1 overall seed in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Currently, the Colts, Rams and Vikings all have two losses. The Colts have the "best" strength of schedule (read: they play a worse set of teams than St. Louis or Minnesota and yet are just as bad), so they'd likely win any tiebreaker for the top pick if all three two-win teams lose their remaining games.

If the Colts win, however, they won't just be working on a serious Hail Mary for Jim Caldwell's career as coach there; they'll also probably cough up a shot at Luck.

That presumes that the Vikings fall to the Redskins and Bears, of course. If they do, though, they'll hold the No. 1 overall pick and be faced with a fascinating decision.


If they're sure Christian Ponder, taken in the top 10 of the 2011 Draft, is the answer, they can move the top pick to a team that's desperate for a quarterback.

The Dolphins and Redskins would, by most accounts, be willing to give up an insane haul of draft picks in exchange for the rights to draft Luck.

Of course, the Colts could also trade the rights to Luck for a bevy of picks, but that would give Peyton Manning more leverage when it came to any attempted negotiations of the deadline for picking up his option than would missing out on the top pick. Plus, Indy has a need in the long term for a franchise quarterback, so seeing them deal the top pick in the draft is pretty unlikely.

Then again, a few weeks ago, so was the possibility of someone else landing it.

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Posted on: December 23, 2011 9:12 am
Edited on: December 23, 2011 9:12 am
 

Pick-Six Podcast: Colts/Texans, Week 16 preview

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

The next-to-last week of the season is underway and after watching the Texans lose to the Colts, it promises to be a doozy. We break down what happened with the Texans, if they are in trouble, what this means for the Colts and Andrew Luck, and whether Reggie Wayne should stick around Indy.

Then we break down the Week 16 games, wondering whether Norv Turner can save his job with a win over the Lions on Saturday, if the Jets and Giants will ever shut up and just play football, if the Eagles fate is narrowly miss the playoff or if they're on a high-speed collision with the postseason, whether Chicago can use Kansas City's blueprint to beat the Packers and if Atlanta can upend New Orleans on Monday.

All that plus much, much more below.

Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?

If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



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Posted on: December 22, 2011 11:26 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 11:40 pm
 

Manning could return to IND but what about Wayne?

Indy owner Jim Irsay sounds like Peyton remains in the team's future, but what about Reggie? (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Huge win for Indianapolis Thursday night (their second in a row!), but perhaps the biggest news to come from the Texans-Colts get-together took place before the game when Colts owner Jim Irsay told NFL Network that he couldn’t envision a situation in which Peyton Manning would play anywhere but Indianapolis unless he wasn’t able to play at all.

"I think the situation is if he's back and he's healthy, I see him coming back and playing here," Irsay said in an interview with Rich Eisen. "I think the hope is that his health is in the position where he could return again. That remains uncertain and that's something that's first and foremost on my mind."

A quick timeline of events:

* May 23, 2011: Manning has neck surgery (bulging disk)
* July 30, 2011: Signed to 5-year, $90 million contract
* September 8, 2011: Manning has spinal fusion surgery
* March 8, 2012: $28 million option bonus due

And it’s that March 8 deadline that has led to speculation that the Colts could either cut or trade Manning (which led to speculation that the Redskins would be interested).

"I don't see that being an issue," Irsay said. "I paid him $26 million this season and he didn't play and I knew it was an iffy situation. If he's healthy and he can play, he'll be back here."

But even if Manning’s healthy, that won’t preclude Irsay from taking a quarterback in April’s draft.

“The draft will be what the draft is — there’s a lot of situations that can unfold from here,” Irsay said. “If there’s a great young quarterback there, we wouldn’t hesitate to take him.”

(We suspect that would be the case no matter what the Redskins might be willing to give up.)

But Manning isn’t the only Colts veteran whose future is uncertain. Wide receiver Reggie Wayne, the team’s 2001 first-round pick, is in the last year of his contract. He’s been looking for a new deal since the summer, but the team asked for patience in August and he’s said all the right things since.

Earlier in the week, Wayne acknowledged that Thursday's game could be his last at Lucas Oil Stadium.

"I am well aware of that and I’ve come to the conclusion that in every athlete’s career they are going to be faced with this decision at some point in time, whether it is a long career or a short career," Wayne said in comments posted on the Colts website.

For an idea of just how valuable Wayne has been during his career, consider this: in his 10 seasons with Manning prior to 2011, Wayne has averaged 79 receptions for 1,075 yards and seven touchdowns. From 2006-2010, those numbers jump to 99, 1,319, and 8. And while his numbers are down in 2011, he did grab the game-winner against Houston Thursday.

Still, there’s no guarantee that Indy brings him back, especially if Manning’s future remains in doubt heading into this offseason.

And that leads us to this: if Wayne doesn’t return to Indianapolis, where might he end up in 2012?

A list of possible destinations:

1. New England Patriots. Consider it payback for Adam Vinatieri, but more importantly, it’ll give Tom Brady the deep threat Chad Ochocinco never developed into. Wayne’s game is built on precise route-running, which is imperative in Peyton Manning’s offense (and Brady's). And it’s something Ochocinco never had to worry about in Cincinnati.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars. A team so desperate for playmakers at wide receiver that they’re signing guys off the street. Of course, the Jags have plenty to sort out in the coming months, starting with finding a head coach and making sure that Blaine Gabbert really is Jacksonville’s quarterback of the future. That said, Shahid Kahn probably doesn’t have enough money to convince Wayne to come to Florida.

3. New York Jets. Rex Ryan has yet to meet a veteran with a nice resume that he wasn’t interested in bringing to New York (see: Holmes, Burress, and even Derrick Mason for a look-see earlier this season). Maybe Wayne’s route-running will rub off on the other wideouts and mask some of Mark Sanchez’s struggles with accuracy.

4. San Francisco 49ers. Braylon Edwards has been underwhelming and Michael Crabtree could use a proven veteran to play opposite him while pushing him to get better. But if Wayne wasn’t crazy about catching passes from Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky, he might not want to play with Alex Smith, either. Smith is clearly better than either of the Colts’ backups, but San Francisco’s offense is built on west coast principles, the running game and the defense. Then again, winning fixes a lot.

5. St. Louis Rams. Another team in dire need of skill position players. Unlike Jacksonville, Sam Bradford has proven he can play in the NFL, it’s just that he and almost everybody else on the roster was beset with injuries in 2011.

Ultimately, we expect Wayne to stay in Indy, especially if Manning’s back in 2012 and beyond.

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Posted on: December 20, 2011 11:58 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 3:13 pm
 

Ex-NFL TE Ben Utecht suffering memory loss at 30

By Will Brinson

Ben Utecht's career in the NFL ended early -- after suffering his fifth concussion (that he knows of) during training camp in 2009, Utecht retired and is already, at the young age of 30, dealing with bouts of memory loss that are likely attributed to the brain damage he suffered while in the NFL.

Utecht, a talented singer, told USA Today's Erik Brady that what he's doing now, touring as a musician, is a "dream come true," but that he's growing concerned about the health of his brain.

"Will I experience early-onset dementia in my 50s? Will I experience more issues with amnesia or headaches or behavioral changes? All of these things are consequences of brain injury," Utecht said. "I think now that I'm aware of them — especially now that I'm the father of three beautiful little girls — it's definitely in my heart and on my mind. I'd be lying to you if I said it wasn't."

Utecht's wife, Karen, recalled a day when the former tight end wondered to some close friends why he didn't attend their wedding a few years back. But Utecht was wrong. He had been at the wedding -- in the wedding, in fact -- but couldn't remember it.

The couple also note a number of other instances during daily life where Utetch simply couldn't remember basic events about his daily life.

And remember, Utecht is only 30. It's a terrifying story, but absolutely worth a read, and a reminder of exactly how debilitating the brain damage football players suffer really can be.

Via MDS at PFT

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Posted on: December 20, 2011 8:18 pm
 

Colts loss to Texans Thursday locks in top-2 pick

By Will Brinson

The Colts are believed to be locked in on the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. (And, thusly, locked into Andrew Luck, the top prospect on Rob Rang's big board.)

But not so fast, my friends -- Indy still hasn't technically "won" the first pick in the draft, because of their win Sunday over the Titans. In fact, they haven't even locked in a top-two pick in the draft, although they could do so on Thursday if they lost to Houston.

According to Matt Pomeroy of the NFL Network, a loss Thursday for the Colts eliminates the Rams from contention for the No. 1 pick. However, the Vikings are still in play -- if Indy then beat Jacksonville, their best possible strength of schedule would be equal to Minnesota's worst possible strength of schedule.

So if the Vikes lose out, Indy goes 1-1 and everything strength-of-schedule wise breaks correctly, the Colts and Vikings would have a coin toss to determine who gets the rights to draft and/or trade the rights to draft Luck.


The odds still heavily favor the Colts, especially considering the Texans will be pushing for a bye in the AFC and Indy's inability to stop the run.

For Bill Polian, who seems unsure whether about his 2012 situation, that's probably a good thing.

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Posted on: December 19, 2011 11:53 pm
 

Polian on Manning return in 2012: 'I don't know'

Bill Polian on Peyton Manning coming back in 2012: 'I don't know the answer to that.' (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

There's a reasonable chance that Peyton Manning's already played his last game in a Colts uniform. But you'd never get anyone in the organization to admit the possibility that Manning wouldn't return, at least not right now.

Or would you? Bill Polian, speaking on his weekly radio show Monday night said he "didn't know the answer" as to whether or not Manning would be back with Indianapolis next season.

Indy's Big Decision

"I don't know the answer to that," Polian said, per our Colts Rapid Reporter Tom James. "There are so many variables involved that it's impossible to tell at this point in time. It's our fervent hope that he is. But I couldn't unequivocally give you an answer of yea or nay."

Polian's radio shows are almost always an exercise in interesting comments -- and it might seem like the prudent thing for Polian to do in this situation is simply avoid commenting.

After all, the decision to bring Manning back is on the team. As Polian is the guy who makes that decision (although ultimately answering to owner Jim Irsay), he would know whether or not Manning is going to return.

What that means is Charley Casserly's report of the Colts wanting to renegotiate the terms of Manning's option, or at least the deadline for the option, is likely correct.

The Colts will ask Peyton for more time to evaluate his health before committing $28 million to him in 2012. And that's fair. But it's still an ominous sign for Peyton's future in Indy that the guy making the call can't commit to whether or not his franchise quarterback will return.

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Posted on: December 19, 2011 1:47 am
Edited on: December 19, 2011 10:33 am
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 15: Good losses?

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action, figures out the winners and losers and asks the big questions. New format! Same old sorting! Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Make sure and listen to our Week 15 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.

Are Good Losses Good?

You're not ever going to hear Aaron Rodgers or Tim Tebow admit this, but losing isn't always a bad thing. In the case of each, a loss on Sunday actually means significantly less pressure in the public eye over the next few weeks.

For Rodgers, there's no more chatter about whether or not the Packers can run the table. Granted, that was a side story to Tebow for most of the past few weeks but if Green Bay had beat Kansas City, the heat was about to be turned up with questions about resting players, playing stars, Mercury Morris' plethora of media appearances and much more.

The loss stinks, clearly. But now the week will be filled with questions like "Are the Packers in trouble?" and "Are the Saints the best team in the NFC?" (See: below). So a team that hadn't lost in nearly a year is suddenly going to get a free chip put on its shoulder? That seems smart for the rest of everyone.

As for Tebow, we all needed this. I love Tim Tebow's story. I love that my cousins' neighbors have a dog named Tebow. I love that my grandfather sends me newspaper clippings about Tebow's awesomeness. But my, um, God, that last week leading up to the Patriots game was just too much, you guys. We had media wars, Tebrews, preachers recanting TMZ quotes on Twitter and just generally all the other things you'd associate with the Apocalypse.

But now the Broncos lost and the Tebowagon gets a chance to tap the brakes, all while not giving up any ground on the playoffs (except to the Chargers who propped their playoff window open a little wider).

We (me, you, Tim) just need some time apart from Tebowmania. Hopefully we get at least a week.

Winners

It's a good thing Romeo Crennel didn't wear the traditional white shirt on Sunday. (US Presswire)

Romeo Crennel: We've been giving Crennel credit for his defensive schemes for a few weeks now, but Sunday's performance by the Chiefs -- a stunning 19-14 win over previously unbeaten Green Bay -- was absolutely worthy of the Gatorade bath he got after his first game as interim coach in Kansas City. The Chiefs shut down the Packers high-powered offense and Crennel parlayed the "you'd think it's obvious!" decision to bench Tyler Palko for Kyle Orton into a serious résumé builder for the offseason.

Reggie Bush: Look, I've ripped Reggie Bush left and right, especially considering his lack of success as an actual running back over the course of his career. But the dude is going HAMbone down in South Beach and Sunday's 203-yard effort makes him just the 40th running back since 1970 to rush for more than 200 yards on 25 or less carries. If you said you predicted Chiefs over Packers I might give it to you. If you predicted Bush rolling for 200 yards? You're a liar.

Skittles: Marshawn Lynch might've only averaged 2.1 yards per carry against the Bears, but he found the end zone twice and crossed the 1,000 yard mark for the season. The game was in Chicago which means it didn't rain rainbows all over Beast Mode when he dashed in the end zone. But has a candy ever gotten a bigger accidental brand boost from an athlete than what Lynch is giving those little sugar bombs during Seattle's sneaky playoff run?

Kyle Orton: Or, as I like to call him, "Senor Spoiler." Orton ripped the heart out of the Packers chance at an undefeated season and over the next two weeks, he's going to get a pair of shots to ruin some seasons. First there's Oakland in Week 16; a win in KC then and the Raiders are likely done. And then the ultimate revenge game against the Broncos, in Denver, on the final week of the season, against the guy, Tim Tebow, that de-seated him. There might be some major egg on John Elway's face if Orton pulls that "W" out.

Norv Turner: It seems impossible that Turner could save his gig, but that's mainly because the Chargers are dead-man walking when it comes to the playoffs ... or are they? After pummeling the Ravens on Sunday night, they've won their last three games and with losses by the Jets, Broncos, Titans, and Raiders they're suddenly one game back of a playoff spot.

Losers

Tom Coughlin: Just a week removed from taking over the NFC East with an impressive performance against the Cowboys, the target's back on Coughlin's back and it's bigger than ever. You can't watch Dallas dominate the Bucs on Saturday night and then lay a freaking ostrich egg at home against a division rival with four wins. Not if you want to make the playoffs anyway.

Our Souls: Bad news, you guys, because Tim Tebow lost. Naturally, that means that salvation will escape even the most penitent man (or woman). Or, alternately, it's a reflection of the fact that when the Broncos turn the ball over a bunch and hand Tom Brady short fields, the Patriots are really tough to beat. I'm going with the latter.

Santonio Holmes: Really Santonio? You're going to catch a touchdown pass, put the ball on the ground, stand on it and then do a dance mocking the Eagles who are in the middle of pantsing you right out of the playoffs? Really? It's kind of ironic that Charley Casserly compared Eagles wideout DeSean Jackson to Holmes on Sunday morning, considering they've both picked up embarrassing unsportsmanlike penalties now.

Oakland Raiders
: Take a look at the playoff picture. (Now back to me.) You realize that the Raiders, who choked to the Lions with a 99-yard drive to close things out, would be tied with the Broncos and Jets at 8-6 if they'd held off Detroit? Because they would be, and they hold the tiebreaker against the Jets and they're just one game back of the Broncos in conference record (5-5 to 6-4). Just close baby.

Ben Roethlisberger's Ankle
: No one's tougher than Roethlisberger, but did you see what happened to him against Cleveland? He probably doesn't have any business stepping on a football field for another week or so, especially without starting center Maurkice Pouncey. But with the Ravens getting paddled on Sunday, the Steelers are in the hunt for the top seed in the AFC and a division title, so Ben almost has to play. Poor ankle.

These Questions Go To 11

Who's protecting Aaron Rodgers? Excellent question.(Getty Images)

1. Should the Packers be worried?
Yes -- but not in the sense about caring over an undefeated season. They should be worried because even though they're still going to get the No. 1 seed in the NFC and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, there's concern about how the offense performed without Greg Jennings and bigger concern about the performance of the offensive line and defense. A bad game from Aaron Rodgers and they can be sent home by anyone.

2. Is Johnny Knox OK?
That's the word on the street. The Bears wide receiver was taken to the hospital after a backbending hit that required him to be carted off the field. Fortunately, he's expected to have surgery to stabilize his vertebrae and according to reports his prognosis is good for a solid recovery.

3. Can the Eagles really still make the playoffs?
Somehow, yes. A lot of things need to happen, but it's not that crazy. 1) Philly wins out (duh), beating. 2) Dallas loses out, against Philly and at the Giants. The Giants go 1-1, losing to the Jets and beating Dallas. If those things happen, the Eagles, Cowboys and Giants will all finish 8-8 and Philly will win the NFC East through tiebreakers. *cues up Gary Wright*

4. What about the Chargers?
YES, THEM TOO. And they have two options -- either the Chargers can win out and the Broncos can lose out and the Bolts win the division. That's the "easy" way. Alternately, if the Jets lose out (against the Giants and Dolphins) and the Bengals can go 1-1 (losing to the Ravens) and the Chargers win out, they can make the playoffs as a wild card. Hope springs eternal in December and whatnot.

5. Should the Bears have called someone?
Yeah, and I'll go so far as to say Brett Favre could've been that guy. Marc Bulger might've made more sense from a perspective of knowing Mike Martz offense, but maybe he wasn't interested. Whatever, Caleb Hanie isn't getting it done.

6. Are the Texans cool with T.J. Yates?
Cool's a relative word, because there's really no excuse for a grizzled veteran of a rookie like Yates to get baffled by a Panthers defense that's running on fumes. Carolina's D showed up big time in Houston, but Yates made some pretty critical mistakes in the 28-13 loss and if Yates ends up with more passing attempts than Arian Foster and Ben Tate have rushing attempts combined, Houston probably lost the game.

7. Why did the Raiders use single coverage on Calvin Johnson?
Honestly, I have no idea. Johnson's the best wide receiver in the NFL and he walked out of a 28-27 win with 214 receiving yards a pair of teeters. It's one thing to trust your cornerback in coverage late in the game. It's another thing entirely to just throw caution to the wind and give the Lions an easy opportunity at going 98 yards for the win, which is what Oakland did Sunday. On the other hand, Darrius Heyward-Bey is starting to look like he could actually be a No. 1 receiver at times. That doesn't help the defensive scheming but it's something, right?

8. Should the Ravens be worried about their road record?
Hell yes they should. Baltimore's been unstoppable at home, rolling to a 7-0 record. On the road they've rolled over for lesser teams like the Jaguars, Seahawks and Titans. And now the Chargers. If Pittsburgh wins on Monday night, it's going to be really tough for the Ravens to land anywhere other than the fifth seed in the AFC, which means they're going on the road throughout the playoffs. And that probably means that the Ravens will be sitting at home in February.

9. Did Jim Caldwell save his job on Sunday?
I know Bill Polian reportedly said all Caldwell had to do was win one game, and the Colts did that by beating Tennessee 27-13 for their first victory on the season. But come on -- this team's going to draft their new franchise quarterback in April in Andrew Luck and Caldwell's not the guy that's going to train him to be Peyton Manning 2.0. Polian can pay lip service all he wants but having Manning/Luck on your roster is like sitting on pocket aces in the hold 'em game of finding a coach who wants to work somewhere with a franchise quarterback.

10. Are the Saints the best team in the NFC now?
If Greg Jennings is guaranteed to be out, if Aaron Rodgers offensive line is completely shredded, and if the game's in a dome ... then maybe, yeah. Drew Brees is as hot as it gets right now (and it's the right time to be hot) and he's going to crush Dan Marino's record for passing yards in a season -- he needs just 305 to break it. And that's in two games, so it's broken. But if (when?) the Saints have to go to Lambeau for the NFC Championship Game, it's a whole different ballgame and the Packers will have a couple weeks to get healthy too. If the Niners can stay afloat, the Saints don't have those luxuries.

11. Should you jump off the Tebow bandwagon?
No you shouldn't have. As mentioned above, the Broncos made some critical mistakes that put the Patriots in a good position to win. The hype was so out of control that it was easy to freak out when New England started rolling. This is a game that Denver should've been more competitive in, but turnovers and a strong defensive performance from the Pats doomed them. They won't see the same sort of challenges against a tepid Bills team that gave up 200 rushing yards to Bush Sunday.

Worth 1,000 Words


GIF O' THE WEEK

This contest was over as of about 6:00 p.m. ET when dog-riding monkeys started herding sheep in Denver.


Award Watch Worth Watching

I'm tempted to open up the MVP race here, but let's get real: it's still Rodgers, despite Brees going ape smell. But how about Offensive Player of the Year instead? Typically speaking, this awards goes to "the most productive person on the team without the best record" or something like that, but I think Brees, if he breaks Marino's record -- and holds it -- is starting to lock it down. But you could make a great case for Calvin Johnson (gobs of touchdowns), Tom Brady and Rodgers too.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com