Welcome to SB Nation Reacts where SB Nation gets fan reactions from the previous week’s results, as well as asking questions about the coming week’s slate. We also take a look at the weekly changes in confidence level from the team’s fans.
The Indianapolis Colts head into their Week 16 matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers with a solid amount of momentum winning six of their last eight games. The Steelers have lost their last three games after starting the season 11-0, and now the Colts will attempt to turn their misfortunes at Heinz Field into a springboard into the post season.
The Colts have since announced that Braden Smith has been placed on the Covid list which will keep him from traveling with the team, and Anthony Castonzo is currently listed as questionable to add to the issue. The Colts, and this offensive line truly have their work cut out for them in this one, and would regardless of who they were matched up against this week.
It’s fair to say that fan’s confidence in the team would have dropped with the news on Smith and Castonzo had it been released before this week’s survey, but the team has earned the confidence to this point with their recent play. Fan’s confidence has leveled the past two weeks at 91 percent, and despite another win — albeit not a convincing win per the scoreboard — that number has dropped ever so slightly.
At the moment the confidence level in the Colts sits at 89 percent heading into this week’s game, but you can rest assured that, with all things considered, a win in Week 16 will send this number through the roof of Lucas Oil Stadium heading into Week 17.
Next on this week’s survey, we get into the year-end individual awards for MVP, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year, and Coach of the Year.
Every year the MVP award is highly argued.. Well, nearly every year. This year is no different, and with so many guys on both sides of the ball having such impressive seasons, there are legitimate arguments for several players. However, the MVP award almost always is an offensive award. Again, this year appears to be no different.
Not only is the MVP overwhelmingly an offensive award, it’s usually a quarterback’s award as well. Patrick Mahomes, and Aaron Rodgers are having amazing seasons at the position, with 36, and 40 touchdowns respectively and both leading their teams to the top of their divisions.
Josh Allen has blown everyone away with his growth at the position in such a short amount of time, and is having his best season to this point with 30 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Not in the quarterback club, but having a historic season at his position, is Derrick Henry. Henry leads the league (again) with nearly 1,700 rushing yards with two games left and could very realistically surpass 2,000 yards for the season.
While I think it’s fair to say Allen has been excellent this season, it’s also realistic to suggest that he’s out on this award simply due to the others at his position who have been even better this year. And with the award typically going to a QB each year, I don’t think Henry has a real shot to be perfectly honest.
This appears to be a two-horse race between Mahomes and Rodgers and it may just take all 16 games for this one to be decided. I’m still a fan of the MVP being a post-playoff award, but nobody cares what I think about that. Either way, this is a pretty exciting race to keep our eyes on this year. And for the moment, fans are giving Mahomes the nod with 36 percent of the votes, while Rodgers and Allen are tied at 21 percent.
Next, we look at the ROY award with some very deserving candidates.
Now, I did say “very deserving candidates,” and I meant it. However, this award should not be in question in my opinion. The ROY award isn’t so much like the MVP where a specific position is an overwhelming favorite simply for having a good year at a premium position. A standout at another skill position is just as likely to take the hardware, and I love that about this award.
With that said, there’s only one player who deserves this award this year. Justin Jefferson has had an amazing year racking up nearly 1,300 yards and 7 touchdowns to this point in the season, and that might very well take the award any other year.
Some will say Tua Tagovailoa is heavily in the running for the award, but that’s simply not realistic. He doesn’t even have 1,500 passing yards, has fewer than 10 touchdowns and is a 63 percent passer with 210 attempts. This year, congratulations on a solid year in relief, but he’s not getting the nod here, and honestly it would be a sham if he did receive it.
This year, the nod should 100 percent go to Justin Herbert. He wasn’t given much of a shot to so many of the critics of his game at this level, let alone to take an absolutely trash team marred by injuries and terrible coaching to a modest record with a ton of upside for the future.
Herbert could very well hit 600 attempts on the season, is a 63.5 percent passer with 27 touchdowns and 10 interceptions with very little help in the running game or anywhere else for that matter. The fans agree on this one giving Herbert 54 percent of the votes, and truly, if he’s not your winner for ROY you’re doing it wrong.
I really am saddened that Chase Young wasn’t at least the number four guy on this list (2 FF, 5.5 sacks, 38 total tackles) above Chase Claypool, but the numbers are what they are.
Next, we’re going to hit up the race for the Defensive Player of the Year.
This race, and the results from the fan votes are a little surprising to me. We’ll just cut to the chase. The final four are Aaron Donald, T.J. Watt, Xavien Howard, and Myles Garrett.
This is a group of legit, top-level defenders at their respective positions, and all are worthy of consideration in the realist sense. However, we all know that namesake is going to have a huge part in how this award is voted on by, both, fans and the league itself.
Currently sitting at the number three, and four positions in this survey are Howard and Garrett. Howard leads the league with 9 interceptions, and Garrett is in the hunt for the league lead in sacks, and forced fumbles. Though neither of them are likely to win the award, I appreciate their standing among the league’s top defenders.
Watt is at the number two spot, receiving 23 percent of the votes, and Donald has run away with the fan votes receiving 42 percent of the votes. This is where the issue comes in for me. Not so much that Donald is ahead of Watt, but that he’s smoking him in the votes.
Watt leads the league in sacks (13), has 40 QB hits, 50 total tackles, and has 7 passes defensed. That is an impressive resume for the award, and it’d be hard for anyone to argue against him getting it, but Donald is almost literally running away with this survey’s results.
Donald comes in with 12.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 1 pass defensed, 39 total tackles, and 25 QB hits. Those numbers aren’t anything to wag your finger at either, but it also doesn’t yield nearly double the votes of Watt by any stretch.
Now, these are fan votes, not the official votes naturally, and given the position of the Steelers in the AFC playoff picture versus the Rams’ situation in the NFC, I’m guessing that the race is far closer than what we’re seeing here in the fan voting. This is also a very fun race to watch play out as the season nears its end.
Now we’re on to the Offensive Player of the Year award.
Here we’re seeing much of what we did in the MVP voting with one exception — Derrick Henry is leading the votes in this one. Henry received 29 percent of the vote, but he’s being closely followed by Mahomes (28%), and is likely holding a bit more of a cushion in the actual voting for this award.
While Allen (18%), and Rodgers (11%) are far behind Henry and Mahomes in the fan voting, this is also a much tighter race I would assume as far as how the actual voting will turn out.
The way this typically goes, is the quarterback receives the MVP award, and the dominant skill position player will take home the OPOY award, even when the skill position player is a better player, and possibly even more valuable to his team.
Ultimately, you’re splitting hairs if you’re arguing whether Henry or Mahomes is more valuable to his team. On the other hand, running backs don’t run for 2,000 yards every year, and they almost never carry their team the way Henry has this season. The league simply isn’t built that way anymore.
This seems like it’s Henry’s award to lose at this point with three quarterbacks in the running for the MVP award.
Finally, we come to the race for Coach of the Year.
This is a fun one to think about and unlike other arguments, any of these coaches could take the award and I wouldn’t be a tad bit surprised. Brian Flores (Dolphins), Kevin Stefanski (Browns), Andy Reid (Chiefs), and Sean McDermott (Bills) are all doing phenomenal jobs this season with their respective teams.
Reid currently sits in third for this race (19%), and with him having one of the most talented teams in the league for the past few seasons, I think we can assume that him winning this award doesn’t feel very likely.
For the other three, they’re all relatively new coaches with their teams and have all turned their teams around, putting them in the thick of the playoff race. In this week’s voting, Dolphins’ coach Brian Flores leads with 30 percent of the vote, with Stefanski getting 23 percent.
As a total guess, and depending on the fate of the Dolphins and Browns, it feels like either Flores or Stefanski should take this award. If things continue as they have for those two teams it would make sense, but if they falter even a little bit, don’t rule out McDermott to take it from the pack.
As a side note here, Colts’ coach Frank Reich did receive 7 percent of the vote, good enough for fifth in this survey’s results. Reich has done a really good job overall as a playcaller and head coach. All in all, it’s nice to see some really quality coaches being raised in the NFL and making it following careers as coordinators after so many years of one-and-done head coaches who really didn’t impress anyone at all and were never able to stop the bleeding on flailing franchises.
To wrap up this week’s Reacts post, here are the Week 16 fan picks:
I’d say it’s more than notable that the fans have picked the Colts to take the Steelers in Pittsburgh Sunday in the 1:00 pm window, and to add to that storyline, the fans have picked the Packers to take out the Titans. Should this hold true, the Colts would retake the lead in the AFC South with their lone remaining game being at home against the Jaguars. Go Horse!