A look back at 2007's best and worst on the gridiron
The NFL regular season is officially in the books, and our predictions crew reflects back upon the 2007 season, with all its ups and downs.
Congratulations to Nitin, who overcame half a season of last-place finishes to capture this year's SCO NFL Predictions title, edging last year's champ Pia by just one game. Anshul, our junior, will have his shot as he continues the hallowed tradition next season. And as for Andrew, well there's always baseball...
Be sure to check out our playoff previews.
|Week 17||Season total|
Most Valuable Player
|Randy Moss||Tom Brady||Randy Moss||Tom Brady|
Nitin says: When it comes down to it, this award could go to either Brady or his impeccable target Randy Moss. Moss certainly can't take all of the credit for the amazing, pass-heavy season constructed by the Patriots. Fellow wide receiver Wes Welker tied for most receptions in the league and the Pats' offensive line could even give me a shot at completing a pass in the NFL. But when it mattered most, Brady came through for his team, orchestrating four fourth-quarter comebacks this season. Combining a perfect 16-0 season (remembering that the awards aren't even based on postseason efforts) with several shattered offensive records calls for awarding the team's field general. Brett Favre and Brian Westbrook have been completely overshadowed by both Brady and Moss this year.
Pia says: I have to agree with Andrew -- Randy Moss not Tom Brady is the key here. The Patriots practically stole their final piece of the puzzle from Oakland for a mere fourth-round draft pick this offseason, and then sat back and watched him glow.
Anshul says: I think this one is pretty obvious. Even all you haters of the New England Patriots know that Goldenboy-quarterback Tom Brady deserves this award. He shattered multiple NFL records and led his team to the only 16-0 regular season in NFL history and only the second perfect regular season ever. And it was not an easy road. His first couple of games were blowouts and inspired talks of an undefeated season. But tough games against the Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants proved that Brady is the MVP of the 2007 NFL regular season. He finished with 50 TD passes and only 8 interceptions, a plus-42 turnover margin. What he accomplished this season is truly great and should be recognized as such.
Rookie of the Year
|Joe Thomas||Patrick Willis||Adrian Peterson||Adrian Peterson|
Nitin says: Adrian Peterson has already been given the offensive rookie of the year award, but Patrick Willis deserves the defensive award. Willis led the league with an astounding 174 tackles, with second-place D.J. Williams ending with 141. And of those 174, 135 were solo. Freakish athletic ability combined with relatively quick instincts already have earned Willis a spot among the top middle linebackers in the league. Most memorably this season, he was the key to holding "Purple Jesus" Peterson to a season-low three yards rushing. He might get hurt by the fact that San Francisco's overall defense in terms of yards and points allowed is in the lowest tier of the NFL.
Pia says: How could someone christened as "Purple Jesus" not win the Rookie of the Year award? His outstanding talent not only earned him a spot in the NFL record books with a 296-yard rushing game, but also finally propelled Minnesota into playoff contention.
Anshul says: I'll go with the obvious, the already-declared Offensive Rookie of the Year. Overlooked by Detroit for Calvin Johnson in the draft, rookie-sensation Adrian Peterson showed the world what he could do. Sure, he had his bad moments, like his 3-yard rushing game. But he also had high points, including an NFL-record 296 yard and three touchdown game. He set an NFL record for most rushing yards by a rookie in just eight games. He also brought the Minnesota Vikings to nearly a playoff birth and offset the lacking performance of Tarvaris Jackson.
Most memorable moment
|Redskins lining up 10 men||Romo choking with Jessica Simpson watching||LaDainian Tomlinson passes childhood hero's record||Miami's touchdown in OT to give them their first win|
Nitin says: Call me cruel but it was just too great. All of those camera cut backs to Jessica Simpson wearing that number nine jersey emphasized what was happening against Philly: Tony Romo was throwing away the game on the field. In the following weeks, Washington and Carolina fans alike pulled out their Jessica masks in an attempt to "ruin Romo." And it seemed to have worked: Romo had an average QB rating of 46.1 in his last three games.
Pia says: There are few great guys in professional sports -- great athletes, plenty, but great people are harder to find. LaDainian Tomlinson, the San Diego Chargers star running back, is one. Tomlinson grew up idolizing Walter Payton, the talented Chicago Bears' running back, and the moment he passed his hero's 110 career rushing touchdowns mark was as sweet as they get.
Anshul says: Miami finished the season 1-15, but before Week 15, people were thinking they wouldn't even pick up that one win. Even in that game, just a couple minutes before it ended people felt Miami would lose it. The Ravens were on the Dolphins' goaline, faced with a 4th and 1. But instead of going for the win, the Ravens settled for a field goal to tie it up and push the game into overtime. And again in overtime, there was a moment where the game was ready for Baltimore's taking. But usually reliable Matt Stover missed a 44-yard game winning field goal and gave Miami the ball. Just three plays later, Miami quarterback Cleo Lemon hit Greg Camarillo, who turned a short gain into a 64-yard touchdown. This stopped a 16-game losing streak for Miami and gave them their only win in the season.
|Pursuit of perfection||Kevin Everett's quick recovery||Winning it all for Sean Taylor||Redskins making playoffs after #21's death|
Nitin says: Between the deaths of several NFL players, legal troubles of the Michael Vicks and Chris Henrys as well as the overblown "Spygate" drama, 2007 has possibly been the worst year for the NFL. Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett was at the center of yet another horrible story, following a sickening collision and spinal injury during Week 1. Doctors initially feared that Everett wouldn't be able to walk again, but he made a stunning recovery and even managed to show up, on his feet, to the New York Giants game during Week 16.
Pia says: The end of this story isn't written yet, but all of Washington is waiting with baited breath. After the tragic death of safety Sean Taylor during the middle of the season, the Redskins community was rocked to its core. Regardless, the team came together and played through their sorrow for their departed teammate. After winning four in a row, a trip to the Super Bowl would be the perfect goodbye present.
Anshul says: The death of Sean Taylor took all of Washington by storm and rattled the Redskins' organization. A loss in the first game after his death left 'Skins fans feeling hopeless. The season's end seemed to be the regular season end. But when Todd Collins took over, the 'Skins won four straight games and pulled ahead of the Vikings and Saints to claim the final NFC playoff spot. The season is not over yet for the Redskins and all the momentum is on our side. A deep playoff run would be a perfect end to an up-and-down season.
|Bobby Petrino||Michael Vick||Spygate||Cam Cameron|
Nitin says: It's impossible to explain in words how unfortunate the deaths of Darrent Williams, Damien Nash, Marquise Hill and Sean Taylor are, so I'll focus on an athlete who had complete control over his fate.
Nearly two years in prison for the NFL's best scrambling quarterback. The decision to stick by his old crew of buddies has been one of many poor choices Michael Vick has made in recent years, and easily the worst. He has given up a huge nine-figure contract as well as millions and millions in endorsements as a result. Vick may have also lost his right to participate in the NFL. We all hope he can learn from his mistakes and change his ways, but a hit like this is just too hard to overcome.
Pia says: The cheating scandal that rocked the NFL and the New England Patriots early in the season has all but dissolved away in most people's eyes. Not for me. The only thing more appalling than the "perfect" Patriots' behavior, is the fact that the "no first round draft pick" slap in the wrist the NFL doled out isn't even true -- thanks to a trade, the Patriots have the 49ers number seven first round pick!
Anshul says: In his only season with the Miami Dolphins, head coach Cam Cameron led the team to a dismal 1-15 record. There were times where the whole world was doubtful that Cameron would win even one game, and I'm sure that he had his doubts at some point too. And now, despite signing a 5-year contract with the team, he was fired. Cameron was supposed to take this team places, but where he took them no team wants to go. Next season looks better for the Dolphins, mainly because they can't get any worse.
|Jamal Lewis||David Garrard||Todd Collins||Brett Favre|
Nitin says: Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio wouldn't agree with this unofficial award; he knew exactly what he was doing when he cut former Jag QB Byron Leftwich. David Garrard has put life into the Jacksonville's previously droning offense, posting a 6 to 1 touchdown/interception ratio, second only to none other than Tom Brady (6.25 to 1). With Garrard's effective game management and a two-headed monster in the backfield, the Jaguars can hold its own in the AFC and are considered a major threat in the postseason. If Jacksonville can find a way to bring in a game-breaking receiver in the offseason, Garrard might be able to improve his impressive numbers even more.
Pia says: Google, the iPod and the Houston Texans all came about in the decade between current Redskins' quarterback Todd Collins's starts. In the one month he has played since taking over for injured quarterback Jason Campbell, the 36 year-old Collins has led the formerly struggling 'Skins to four straight victories and a spot in the playoffs, with an incredible 107 passer rating, five touchdowns and no interceptions. No wonder Redskins' fans are saying, "In Todd we trust."
Anshul says: I can guarantee that nobody saw Brett Favre's play coming. His decision to return for another season last year was a complete shock itself and left many people skeptic as to whether he could still play. But he proved everyone wrong. Not only did he claim the NFL records for most career TD passes and most career passing yards, but he also led the Packers to a playoff birth and the number two seed in the NFC. Nobody saw it coming, probably not even people in the Green Bay locker room. Regardless if this is his last season or not, it was, and still is, a great one.
|Brett Favre||Cleveland Browns' offense||Tom Brady||Wes Welker|
Nitin says: Following a quarterback controversy, Romeo Crennel's job security and a fallen runner, the Cleveland Browns have put together a huge offensive squad that has launched Cleveland into the upper decks of the NFL following years of being the laughingstock. Rookie tackle Joe Thomas has lived up to every bit of the hype surrounding him, giving quarterback Derek Anderson the time he needs. Anderson, despite his stellar breakout season, can even be considered expendable in the trade market with Notre Dame sensation Brady Quinn donning the clipboard on the sideline. Following last year's debacle as a Raven, running back Jamal Lewis has shown signs of life with over 1500 all-purpose yards to go with 11 total TDs. And certainly not least, Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow have finally stepped up (my only correct prediction from my pre-season team overviews). Both racked up 80+ receptions and 1000+ receiving yards each. Edwards, one of the most explosive young recievers in the league, had 16 TD receptions, bested only by Randy Moss. Above all, the two have matured, showing more commitment to the team than ever. Runner up: Tennessee RB Chris Henry for taking the most vicious hit I have ever seen and then getting up like it never happened.
Pia says: It's a bird...it's a plane...nope, it's Tom Brady. Juggling a supermodel girlfriend, a newborn baby and the new record for most touchdowns in the regular season never seemed easier. Brady deserves the most credit for his team's perfect season -- with a +42 touchdown to interception difference and his admittedly good looks, he brings a whole new meaning to "2007 stud."
Anshul says: The perfect regular season by the Patriots was an amazing feat and Brady and Moss are the ones getting much of the praise. But the unsung hero of the New England team this season has definitely been Wes Welker. The slot receiver has done everything this season, from catching passes to running the ball to returning punts. He tied T.J. Houshmandzadeh for most receptions this season and was a major force in the Patriots' offense. Sure Moss was the deep threat and endzone force, but Welker was the one moving the chains by working underneath routes and the middle of the field on second and third downs.
|Reggie Bush||Shaun Alexander||Eli Manning||JaMarcus Russell|
Nitin says: It's amazing that the Seahawks have managed to overcome Shaun Alexander's deficiencies this season to become a legitimate contender in the NFC. Then again, it is the NFC. Two years after his MVP-season, Alexander has been out-rushed by 29 other backs while managing just 3.5 yards per carry and four touchdowns on the ground. He was nearly overtaken by backup Maurice Morris (4.5 ypc). What happened? Even though he's been plagued by injuries, he still fails to perform when he claims he's 100 percent. He needs to rebound during the playoffs to ensure starting security going into the 2008 training camp.
Pia says: The son of the famed Archie, the younger brother of the talented Peyton...Eli will be the Giants' key to success, right? Not so fast. In yet another mediocre season, Eli Manning finished with a quarterback passer rating of 74, 20 interceptions and 7 lost fumbles. In one game against Minnesota, Manning threw four interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns. Sure there are worse players out there, but Manning's contribution to the Giants' team is grossly overrated, and he's hardly worth the $20 million signing bonus (the largest ever for a rookie at the time) and $54 million deal he got in 2004.
Anshul says: The first-overall draft choice this year was supposed to give the Oakland Raiders something to look forward to. The Raiders had quarterback issues all season long and JaMarcus Russell did not help them out. In the four games he played, including his one start in Week 17, Russell threw only two touchdowns and four interceptions. He also fumbled the ball four times, two of which he lost. The Raiders won only one game in those four and in that game Russell only threw seven passes. I know he is supposed to be the quarterback of the future for the team, but he needs to improve.
Comeback Player of the Year
|Kurt Warner||Brett Favre||Kevin Everett||Todd Collins|
Nitin says: A year ago, Brett Favre was contemplating retirement (again). But now that the Packers are legitimate title contenders, he may want to wait a few years before dangling that disastrous thought above Green Bay fans again. After two seasons suffering under center with QB ratings in the low 70s, Favre has played like his old three-time-MVP self. The passing attack has flourished with Mike McCarthy's ability to put the "Fab Five" receivers in position to get yards after the catch. The NFL's iron man shrugged off injuries to keep his great consecutive-games-started streak alive, breaking several of Dan Marino's passing records on the way.
Pia says: It doesn't matter that Kevin Everett didn't finish a game in the 2007 season. To be able to stand up on his own two feet after doctors initially thought that he would never walk again is the biggest comeback I've seen this year.
Anshul says: 10 years between starts is the longest gap I've ever seen. And he didn't miss a beat when he came back. He guided the Redskins to four straight wins and a playoff berth. During that stretch, Collins was playing amazingly. He threw five touchdown passes and no interceptions. Washington had been suffering when he came in from a four-game losing streak and the death of Sean Taylor. There was a lot of pressure for Collins to perform from both the coaches and the fans. He did not disappoint. 10 years without a start, he still comes back perfectly.
Coach of the Year
|Bill Belichick||Mike Tomlin||Wade Phillips||Mike McCarthy|
Nitin says: Mike Tomlin came to the Pittsburgh Steelers looking to fill in some huge shoes left by predecessor Bill Cowher. He also had plenty of work to do; the Steelers were coming off of a disappointing season marked by Ben Roethlisberger's struggle to stay healthy. But with Tomlin's schemes, most notably the shotgun sets on offense, the Steelers were able to bring Big Ben to the AFC's club of high quality quarterbacks while letting RB Willie Parker run wild. Even with the departure of LB Joey Porter and with Troy Polamalu's difficulties, Tomlin has managed to put together the NFL's top overall defense. Romeo Crennel is a popular subject in the Coach of the Year conversations, but I think he has had much more to work with, given the excellent draft and stud receivers Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow.
Pia says: After helping the Chargers to an NFL-best 14-2 record last season, the San Diego defensive coordinator was recruited to lead in Dallas, among many questions about his skills on the offensive side and general doubts about his leadership capabilities. With only his first season, Phillips has managed to prove the critics wrong. The Cowboys are 13-3 and the number one seed in the NFC, a normally obnoxious Terrell Owens has been quiet and productive and Tony Romo has continued to develop. Kudos to Phillips -- between Jessica Simpson and painkillers, the Cowboys haven't always been able to concentrate on the field.
Anshul says: McCarthy last season did not perform very well. The Packers were 8-8, but were shutout twice in the season. Undoubtedly McCarty had something to do in bringing back Brett Favre, and that move alone helped the Packers so much. Favre guided the Packers to a 13-3 record and the number two seed in the playoffs, and McCarthy helped him get there. Drafting Ryan Grant gave the Packers a decent running game, something they had been lacking and was needed to become a great team. The play-calling by McCarthy kept Favre in control of the offense. McCarthy gave Favre all the freedom he wanted to bomb it downfield and throw as often as he needed to.
Andrew Kung. Andrew Kung is a rising Magnet junior who is psyched for a year of Chips Online. He has lived in New York, Michigan, and New Mexico prior to his current residence in Maryland. As a cynical sports fan, he is not often disappointed, but not … More »
Pia Nargundkar. Pia Nargundkar was Editor-in-Chief of Silver Chips Online during the 2007-2008 school year. More »
Nitin Sukumar. Nitin's middle name is Antonio Gates. More »