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Alex Smolokoff

As the final stretch of the 2011 NFL regular season nears, someplayers and teams are beginning to stand above the rest. The GreenBay Packers particulary stand out for their unblemished record. TimTebow is redefining the quarterback position, and the best class ofrookies in years is making a name for itself. With four gamesremaining on the schedule, here’s an early prediction for thisseason’s awards:

MVP: Aaron Rodgers: QB, Green Bay

Any other season, this award would go to Saints quarterback DrewBrees. Brees has thrown for a record-breaking pace of 4,031 yards.He has 30 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions, and his team leadsthe NFC South. This year, however, is not like any other. AaronRodgers has embraced the quarterback’s like no one has before. Hisnumbers are ungodly: 3,844 yards, 37 touchdowns, five interceptionsand a quarterback rating of 125.3. In addition, his team is 12-0.This award is wrapped up.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Cam Newton; QB,Carolina

In what is possibly the strongest draft class of the lastdecade, Newton stands above the rest. No disrespect to the likes ofAndy Dalton, A.J. Green, DeMarco Murray and Julio Jones, but Newtonis playing like anything but a rookie. The No.1 overall pick fromApril, Newton has thrown for more than 3,000 yards and rushed foranother 500. He has thrown 13 touchdowns but more impressively, hasrushed for another 13, breaking Steve Grogan’s single-season recordfor quarterbacks. His team may not be winning games, but its notNewton’s fault. 

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Von Miller; LB,Denver

It’s not all Tebow in Denver. The Broncos have defense to thankfor that 7-5 record, and the centerpiece of that Denver defense isMiller. He has recorded 57 tackles, 10.5 sacks, and two forcedfumbles this season. Tebow-mania may have taken over Denver, butthe rookie linebacker from Texas A&M is a huge part of itssuccess thus far.

Comeback Player of the Year: Alex Smith; QB, SanFrancisco

A strong case could be made for Jets wide receiver PlaxicoBurress or linebacker Aaron Maybin, but my vote is for Smith. Afterfive long seasons for the 49ers, Smith has become the quarterbackNiners fans hoped he would be. His numbers aren’t eye-popping -2,390 yards, 15 touchdowns and five interceptions – but he has ledSan Francisco to a 10-2 record and the NFC West division crown. Hehas turned around his own career and the entire 49ers franchisewith it.

Coach of the Year: Jim Harbaugh, SanFrancisco

If Alex Smith owes his success to anyone, its first-year headcoach Jim Harbaugh. The Niners, after finishing last season 6-10,are now 10-2 and have already clinched the NFC West division. Now,the 49ers are looking to clinch a possible No.2 seed and afirst-round playoff bye week. That’s not bad for his firstyear.