With the 2011 NFL season just a week away from kicking off, analysts are previewing games and projecting players’ fantasy impact for Week 1. Here at Mind of Mihir, I’ve decided to look a bit beyond that. Over the next few days, I’ll be releasing a series of articles predicting end-of-the-year results for awards, team-by-team records, and even who my early favorites for the Super Bowl are. So be sure to stay tuned and check it out.

I’m going to start off with my early predictions on who will win the seven major awards this season, beginning my series with the Rookies of the Year.

Note, I’ve learned that there are some statistics and trends that go along with topic.

Comeback Player of the Year


Sample: Last 5 winners

Positions: 4 Quarterbacks, 1 Linebacker

Combined Record: 54-26 (.675)

Options: Cowboys QB Tony Romo, Lions QB Matthew Stafford, Vikings QB Donovan McNabb, 49ers QB Alex Smith, Dolphins RB Reggie Bush, Packers RB Ryan Grant, Patriots WR Chad Ochocinco

This award has been delivered to players who either return from a severe injury or to those who redeem themselves with stellar performances. Over the past five seasons, we’ve had a mix of two. In fact, Chad Pennington won the award in both 2006 and 2008 for those two reasons on two different teams.

This award isn’t as easy to project as the Rookie of the Year awards because there is such a wide array of options to evaluate.

However, consider the fact that four of the past five winners have been quarterbacks and that their teams win an average of 11 games a year, I can start the elimination process by taking out Stafford, Smith, and Bush. While I’ve learned that nothing is impossible in the NFL, I find it unlikely that any of their teams come close to that total.

Looking at the previous five winners here’s what they accomplished in order to earn the award:

Chad Pennington (2006): Returned from injury, but had a standard year.

Greg Ellis (2007): Returned from injury, and had a career high in sacks with 12.5

Chad Pennington (2008): Led the Dolphins to a 10-win turnaround and had the 2nd best season statistically of his career.

Tom Brady (2009): Had the 2nd highest passer rating of his career at that point

Michael Vick (2010): Set career highs in virtually every personal statistical category

With that being said, here’s what I believe the four remaining players will have to do in order to win the award.

Tony Romo: Lead the Cowboys to the playoffs, set career highs

Donovan McNabb: Lead the Vikings to the playoffs, post a 95+ passer rating

Ryan Grant: Rush for 1,200 yards and 10+ touchdowns

Chad Ochocinco: Re-establish his image, 90+ receptions for 1,300+ yards and 10+ touchdowns

Really, all of that is possible, but I just feel that Grant and Ochocinco just won’t be given the opportunities to get back to their original form. The Packers plan to employ a running back by committee system while the Patriots are going to be spreading the ball around a lot more so don’t expect a repeat of Moss’ staggering numbers in 2007.

Now it comes down to Romo and McNabb and simply whom will perform better. Even though I respect McNabb more due to his playoff performances, Romo owns the 4th best passer rating of all-time meaning that he’s a stud when it comes to the regular season.

Unlike the Vikings who lost Sidney Rice via free agency and will be relying on Adrian Peterson much more, the Cowboys are a pass-first team with a trio of talented pass catchers including wide receivers Miles Austin and Dez Bryant along with tight end Jason Witten.

And what puts it over the top for me is the fact that Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman suffered the same injury in 1991, but came back the next year to set career highs in several categories.

It’s been done before, and I predict it’ll be done again as Tony Romo will be this year’s Comeback Player of the Year.


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