Looking back at the best and worst from the 2009 NFL regular season.
The chic pick is QB Drew Brees, who led the Saints to a 13-3 record with a league-best 109.6 quarterback rating and 34 touchdown passes. But if you had one game to win, wouldn't you take Colts QB Peyton Manning? He's so good that you actually take it for granted. He averaged 281.2 passing yards a game and threw for 4,500 yards (second in the league) and 33 touchdowns (tied for second overall). The best stat? The Colts went 14-0 when Manning played the entire game and 0-2 when he didn't.
-- DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF YEAR
This is a no-brainer. Only 24 and in his third season, Jets CB Darrelle Revis might be better at his position than any other player in the NFL is at his. Sports Illustrated's Peter King figured out that Revis did not allow any of the following stars more than 35 receiving yards in a game this season: Randy Moss, Andre Johnson, Steve Smith (Panthers), Marques Colston, Terrell Owens, Roddy White and Chad Ochocinco. The average game against those elite receivers?
-- ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
QBs Mark Sanchez (Jets), Matt Stafford (Lions) and Josh Freeman (Bucs) all had nice moments. RBs Knowshon Moreno (Broncos) and Beanie Wells (Cardinals) each rushed for more than 700 yards. Several wide receivers, including Austin Collie (Colts) and Jeremy Maclin (Eagles), had significant contributions. And Texans LB Brian Cushing finished fourth in the league with 134 combined tackles. But did any rookie have more of an impact than Vikings WR Percy Harvin? He caught 60 passes for 790 yards and six touchdowns while the offense struggled in the two games when Harvin was out or limited.
-- COACH OF THE YEAR
Marvin Lewis turned the Bengals into winners, but we like two coaches who have been under steady criticism in recent seasons -- the Cowboys' Wade Phillips and the Chargers' Norv Turner. Both coached their teams to division crowns and the Chargers quietly put together a 13-3 season. We'll take Turner.
-- COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Most would chose Patriots QB Tom Brady, who had another typically sensational season after missing 2008 with a knee injury. But we're going with Bucs RB Cadillac Williams, who came back from not one but two major knee injuries. He proved everyone wrong by collecting 1,040 yards of total offense and seven touchdowns.
-- MOST SURPRISING TEAM
Coming off a 4-11-1 season, the artists formerly known as the Bungles had made the playoffs and had a winning record only once in the past 19 seasons. Who expected Chad Ochocinco and co. to finish ahead of the Ravens and the defending-champion Steelers in the AFC North? Not only did they win the division, they won it with ease and will host a playoff game Saturday.
-- MOST SURPRISING PLAYER
Brett Favre will be remembered as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, but last year suggested that he was done. Maneuvering his way to the Vikings, Favre proved he still is among the NFL's top quarterbacks and is in the MVP discussion.
-- MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAM
Plenty to choose from. You have the Broncos, who started 6-0 and ended up 8-8. The Giants were supposed to be Super Bowl contenders, also went 8-8, getting outscored 85-16 in their final two games. But no team was more of a disappointment than a Steelers team that returned pretty much all of last year's Super Bowl championship squad. Sure, they finished 9-7, but the Steelers missed the playoffs because of a five-game losing streak that included losses to the Chiefs, Raiders and Browns. Inexcusable.
-- MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER
Wasn't QB Jay Cutler supposed to be the greatest thing in Chicago since the Sears Tower? Traded from the Broncos, Cutler took over a 9-7 team that got worse, falling to 7-9. Only s late surge allowed Cutler's TD passes (27) to edge his interceptions (26).
-- SUPER BOWL TEAMS
In the NFC, the top-seeded Saints have lost their mojo and three straight. The Packers have won seven of eight, and that one loss came on the last play against the Steelers. To us, no team looks better than the Cowboys, who have won three straight with back-to-back shutouts. In the AFC, the Colts are the top seed, but they've been knocked out of the playoffs the past two seasons by the Chargers.
Our pick: Cowboys vs. Chargers.