MATT LOPEZ: Chad Pennington/Miami QB (3,653 yards, 19 TDs, seven INTs) - Laugh all you want, but Chad Pennington resurrected his career in the midst of helping resurrect the Miami Dolphins. A big part of their success has been Pennington's steady arm and lack of mistakes. Pennington only threw 7 interceptions this year.
DAVID SAUNDERS: Michael Turner/Atlanta RB (1,699 yards rushing, 41 yards receiving, 17 TDs) - Coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan got their professional careers off to unbelivable starts, but the biggest reason for their success is Turner. The former San-Diego backup missed Lorenzo Neal less that LaDainian Tomlinson did.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
ML: Matt Ryan/Atlanta QB (3,440 yards, 16 TDs, 11 INTs) - Led the Falcons back from the abyss and made everyone in Atlanta forget about Michael Vick. He had one of the best rookie seasons ever for a quarterback and will only get better.
DS: Matt Ryan/Atlanta QB (3,440 yards, 16 TDs, 11 INTs) - Completely agree with Matt here. Mike Vick who?
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
ML: DeMarcus Ware/Dallas LB (84 tackles, 20 sacks, six forced fumbles) - Despite the Cowboys' collapse to end the season, Ware deserves the award. He certainly did his best to help keep the team afloat while everything around him was falling apart. He became the seventh player in NFL history to finish a season with 20 sacks.
DS: Joey Porter/Miami LB (47 tackles, 17.5 sacks, four forced fumbles) - Porter's probably the only person who thought the Dolphins would make the playoffs and he played like it from jump street. He terrorized division opponents to the tune of eight sacks and four forced fumbles in six games. It's scary to think what he might do to Ben Rothlisberger should the Dolphins advance to the Divisional Round.
COACH OF THE YEAR
ML: Tony Sparano/Miami - Followed Bill Parcells to Miami and in his first year as Dolphins coach, led the team to an 11-5 record and AFC East championship (thanks in part to MVP Chad Pennington) after a 1-15 season in 2007.
DS: Bill Belichek/New England - No one will ever again question whether it's Tom Brady or the system. At 11-5, the Pats are on the outside looking in at the playoffs, but they got there with an aged, paper-thin defense and a quarterback who hadn't started since high school. Also, Charlie Weis may be joining other former-Belichek pupils Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini in the unemployment line.
In August, who would have thought that six of the eight BTL selections would be Dolphins or Falcons?