Mark Craig: It's time for awards, and for new categories

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 26, 2012 - 7:02 AM

Who is the Most Valuable Manning? Which team had the biggest collapse? Answers ahead.

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Peyton Manning has looked like the Manning of old, and he has turned the Broncos into Super Bowl contenders.

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Let's take a break from discussing the NFL MVP, Comeback Player of the Year and any other awards that are within Adrian Peterson's Kung Fu grip.

Here are some other "awards" to consider as we take a spin around the league during a regular season-ending week that features 15 teams still alive for the postseason and nine games with playoff implications:

Most Valuable Manning: Once upon a time, the Broncos were 2-3 and Peyton was the old, noodle-armed, runner-up Manning. Today, Denver is 12-3 while hopes of an All-Manning Super Bowl are as off target as Eli's completion percentage (56.1) since the Giants were 6-2.

Worst Collapse By a Team Still Barely in Contention Award: Eli's Giants, who are 2-5 their past seven games. No, wait. The Bears, also 2-5 since a 7-1 start. Flip a coin. Or, better yet, first one to lose Sunday wins.

Worst Dream Team EV-er Award: E-A-G-L-E-S!

Big, Big, Huge Mistake That Everyone Saw Coming But Them Award: J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets!

Most Dangerous Team Award: Yeah, the Broncos are riding a 10-game winning streak. Yeah, the Packers are 9-1 since a 2-3 start. Yeah, the Redskins are 6-0 since a 3-6 start prompted coach Mike Shanahan to say, "Now we get a chance to evaluate players and see where we're at." But Seattle has won four straight, including the past three by a combined score of 150-20. The Seahawks are also 7-0 at home.

Most Confusing Team Award: If anyone can figure out the 49ers, give Jim Harbaugh a call. They're consistently inconsistent. They've lost or tied every third game this season.

Most Unreasonable Pressure Award: Beat the Redskins on Sunday and the Cowboys claim the NFC East based on the third tiebreaker (common opponents). Lose and Tony Romo's reputation for choking in December grows another layer of scar tissue, regardless of how he plays. For the record, the Cowboys are 3-1 this month with Romo passing for 10 touchdowns and one interception and earning a 112.0 passer rating. In Sunday's loss to the Saints, Romo threw for 416 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.

Who's The Dummy Now Award: Who says you can't lose Peyton Manning, Joseph Addai, Dallas Clark, Gary Brackett, Melvin Bullitt and Pierre Garcon and still be successful? Not 34-year-old Colts receiver Reggie Wayne, who had a chance to jump ship in Indy but stayed put last offseason. Today, Wayne has topped 100 catches (102) for the fourth time in six years and is part of the league's most amazing story this season.

Maybe This Might Work After All Award: It's not often that a 9-4 team fires its offensive coordinator. But that's what the slumping Ravens did to Cam Cameron on Dec. 10. Tempo, or lack thereof, was considered Cameron's downfall as the offense consistently had to wait too long for play calls. Proper tempo is considered a strength of former Colts coach Jim Caldwell, who replaced Cameron. In Caldwell's first game with a full week to prepare, the Ravens offense responded with season highs for total yards (534) and rushing yards (225) in a 33-14 rout of the Giants.

The Ha! In-Your-Face Award: Remember last year when the Steelers announced that offensive coordinator Bruce Arians had "retired"? Remember a few days later when Arians took his job in Indianapolis? The Steelers hired Todd Haley as offensive coordinator, a move that clearly has not set well with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Meanwhile, Arians took over as Colts interim coach when Chuck Pagano left the team to battle leukemia for three months. On Sunday, the Steelers were eliminated from the playoffs while Arians improved his interim record to 9-3 and clinched a playoff berth in time to hand the Colts back to Pagano on Monday.

Who Invited the Kids Award: If Robert Griffin III and Christian Ponder make the playoffs, half of the 12-team field will have either rookie or second-year quarterbacks. The most impressive might be the least talked about: Cincinnati's Andy Dalton. He has led the Bengals from a 3-5 to a 9-6 record this season and back-to-back playoff berths for only the second time in franchise history (1981-82 was the other).

Best Potential Playoff Matchups Award: How about Peyton Manning against the Colts? Or the Colts against their former hometown, Baltimore? Or Peyton vs. a Patriots team that has defied parity by winning the AFC East for the ninth time in 10 seasons? Or, wait. How about the Vikings traveling to Atlanta? In a tight game against the Falcons, the Vikings have the best kicker in the league. What could possibly go wrong there, eh?

Mark Craig • mcraig@startribune.com

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Minnesota 35 FINAL
Miami 37
Baltimore 13 FINAL
Houston 25
Detroit 20 FINAL
Chicago 14
Cleveland 13 FINAL
Carolina 17
Atlanta 30 FINAL
New Orleans 14
Green Bay 20 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Kansas City 12 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
New England 17 FINAL
NY Jets 16
NY Giants 37 FINAL
St. Louis 27
Buffalo 24 FINAL
Oakland 26
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Dallas 42
Seattle 35 FINAL
Arizona 6
Denver 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 108 FINAL
Toronto 118
Memphis 91 FINAL
Cleveland 105
Boston 84 FINAL
Miami 100
Detroit 105 FINAL
Brooklyn 110
LA Lakers 101 FINAL
Sacramento 108
Philadelphia 96 FINAL
Orlando 88
Phoenix 104 FINAL
Washington 92
Indiana 100 FINAL
Minnesota 96
New Orleans 101 FINAL
Oklahoma City 99
Colorado 2 FINAL(SO)
Detroit 1
Dallas 6 FINAL(SO)
Edmonton 5
Buffalo 3 FINAL(OT)
Boston 4
Carolina 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 1
Toronto 0 FINAL
Chicago 4
Philadelphia 4 FINAL(OT)
Winnipeg 3
Harvard 27 FINAL
Virginia 76
Maine 69 FINAL
Army 72
Ferris State 82 FINAL
Bowling Green 68
San Francisco 65 FINAL
Cleveland State 69
Oregon State 52 FINAL
Quinnipiac 60
Coastal Carolina 72 FINAL
Central Arkansas 55
Holy Cross 48 FINAL
Canisius 67
Southern Miss 55 FINAL
Georgia State 68
Western Carolina 66 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 62
Creighton 58 FINAL
North Texas 62
Maryland 73 FINAL
Oklahoma State 64
Cornell 61 FINAL
Radford 74
Vermont 55 FINAL
Saint Louis 58
Loyola-Maryland 52 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Reinhardt 72 FINAL
Winthrop 100
Ark-Little Rock 46 FINAL
Green Bay 66
TX-Pan American 72 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 77
Alabama State 63 FINAL
Evansville 81
FIU 69 FINAL
Hartford 82
Goshen 55 FINAL
Valparaiso 82
Bryant 48 FINAL
Denver 46
Austin Peay 63 FINAL
Lipscomb 69
Tennessee St 47 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 65
South Dakota 67 FINAL
Montana 62
ULM 50 FINAL
Samford 64
Coker 52 FINAL
South Carolina 78
USC 75 FINAL
Boston College 71
Northern Ariz 66 FINAL
Hampton 75
SD Christian 61 FINAL
San Diego 71
UC Irvine 55 FINAL
Bradley 47
Troy 65 FINAL
Nicholls 64
Seton Hall 47 FINAL
Georgia 65
Appalachian St 59 FINAL
Alabama 60
North Dakota St 52 FINAL
Kent State 53
San Jose St 53 FINAL
Washington St 82
Alcorn State 45 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 78
Sacramento St 47 FINAL
Seattle 66
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 55 FINAL
Denver 63
St Marys-CA 52 FINAL
George Washington 70
TX-San Antonio 49 FINAL
Nicholls 57
Portland State 71 FINAL
Columbia 66
Tenn Tech 62 FINAL
Morgan State 56
SMU 43 FINAL
Auburn 56
Quinnipiac 70 FINAL
Hartford 58
Hofstra 75 FINAL
Boston College 61
Eastern Washington 55 FINAL
Georgia Southern 42
Liberty 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 84
Fairleigh Dickinson 74 FINAL
Brown 79
Buffalo 73 FINAL
Long Island 79
Bucknell 74 FINAL
Mount St Marys 49
Stony Brook 70 FINAL
Wagner 76
FIU 83 FINAL
Wofford 75
Duquesne 56 FINAL
Providence 67
Maine 54 FINAL
William & Mary 51
Alabama State 43 FINAL
Samford 56
TX-Pan American 43 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 64
South Dakota St 64 FINAL
Marist 82
Saint Josephs 50 FINAL
(5) Notre Dame 64
Radford 60 FINAL
Virginia Tech 73
(3) Texas 67 FINAL
(4) Texas A&M 65
Rhode Island 60 FINAL
Bryant 56
South Florida 90 FINAL
Penn State 87
Sam Houston St 55 FINAL
TCU 79
Evansville 50 FINAL
IUPUI 62
(14) Maryland 110 FINAL
Coppin State 51
Mercer 59 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 72
NC A&T 43 FINAL
Chattanooga 58
Princeton 84 FINAL
Monmouth 53
Eastern Illinois 69 FINAL
Lehigh 72
Rider 67 FINAL
Binghamton 72
SC State 57 FINAL
Clemson 66
Fairfield 63 FINAL
Iowa State 76
Richmond 70 FINAL
Eastern Kentucky 56
Cleveland State 80 FINAL
Morehead St 72
Kent State 62 FINAL
Colgate 61
South Alabama 43 FINAL
UAB 73
Saint Peters 35 FINAL
Navy 71
Youngstown St 52 FINAL
Pittsburgh 78
NJIT 50 FINAL
Lafayette 66
Davidson 51 FINAL
Charlotte 86
Indiana State 73 FINAL
St Johns 67
Southern U 49 FINAL
Florida 78
Wright State 46 FINAL
Purdue 70
(19) Oklahoma St 66 FINAL
USC 62
Houston 54 FINAL
Texas Tech 60
Ark-Little Rock 66 FINAL
Tulsa 59
Dayton 71 FINAL
Vanderbilt 67
Northern Ariz 37 FINAL
New Mexico 56
UNC-Asheville 60 FINAL
USC Upstate 67
North Dakota 81 FINAL
South Dakota 86
Western Ill 57 FINAL
Marquette 65
Elon 67 FINAL
(6) North Carolina 85
Ball State 59 FINAL
Western Ky 84
(8) Kentucky 68 FINAL
(13) Duke 89
New Orleans 58 FINAL
Alabama 87
Chicago State 47 FINAL
Milwaukee 69
Bowling Green 61 FINAL
Bradley 47
Ill-Springfield 56 FINAL
SE Missouri St 73
Northern Ill 42 FINAL
Northern Iowa 51
(23) Iowa 100 FINAL
Drake 98
Central Michigan 64 FINAL
Minnesota 67
Western Carolina 45 FINAL
North Florida 62
Wyoming 71 FINAL
Colorado 76
Portland 58 FINAL
Boise State 94
Cal Poly 63 FINAL
Colorado State 65
No Dakota State 54 FINAL
Grand Canyon 69
Albany 71 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 49
Oklahoma 64 FINAL
Arkansas 71
Idaho State 63 FINAL
Seattle 55
(18) Michigan State 89 FINAL
(19) Syracuse 76
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Arizona State 88
TX-Arlington 46 FINAL
North Texas 38
Fresno State 68 FINAL
Oregon 59
St Francis-PA 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 72
UNLV 71 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 74
UCLA 50 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 86
(10) Louisville 70 FINAL
(24) California 57
Howard 53 FINAL
Virginia 74
Miami-Ohio 42 FINAL
(21) Miss State 68
Illinois-Chicago 55 FINAL
Old Dominion 61
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