Russell Wilson, quarterback, and Marshawn Lynch, running back, Seattle Seahawks - Wilson continued to pad his "Offensive Rookie of the Year" resume by completing 15-of-21 attempts for 171 yards with a career-high four touchdowns and one interception (which bounced off the hands of rookie running back Robert Turbin) in a 42-13 blowout of the San Francisco 49ers, who had the league's No. 1 scoring defense entering Week 16. Wilson has now completed 63.4 percent of 374 pass attempts for 2,868 yards with 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a passer rating of 98.0 on the season. The award will likely go to Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin, but Wilson's performance this season, against a more difficult schedule, should siphon a significant number of votes.
Lynch had 111 yards on 26 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns, including his first receiving touchdown of the season, in the win on Sunday night. Lynch set the tone early with a 24-yard touchdown run one minute and 12 seconds into the game as the Seahawks attacked the right side of the 49ers' defensive line that was playing without Justin Smith. Acquired from the Buffalo Bills in October of 2010, Lynch was limited to 62 yards on 23 carries in his two meetings with the 49ers, but the Bay Area native has gone over 100 yards in each of their last three contests. For Lynch, it was the ninth time that Lynch had gone over 100 yards in a game this season and Lynch is now second in the NFL with 1,490 rushing yards on the season.
Calvin Johnson, wide receiver, Detroit Lions – There are not enough superlatives to describe the season that Calvin Johnson has had. After signing a $113 million contract extension that included $53.25 million in guaranteed money in March, Johnson has shown that he was worth every penny. With 11 receptions for 225 yards in Saturday night's 31-18 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, Johnson broke three NFL records – consecutive games with 100+ yards receiving (8), most 100+ yards receiving games in a single season (11) and Jerry Rice's single-season receiving yardage record. Johnson has 117 receptions for 1,892 yards on the season and 2,000 yards is a very real possibility.
Joe Flacco, quarterback, Baltimore Ravens – Flacco has had an up-and-down season, which as the Ravens fell into a late season slump, raised questions about whether or not the lack of a long-term contract from the team was impacting Flacco's performance on the field. The 2008 first-round pick out of Delaware came up big on Sunday, completing 25-of-36 pass attempts for 309 yards with two touchdowns, zero interceptions, zero sacks and even added a rushing touchdown as the Ravens clinched the AFC North with a 33-14 win over the New York Giants.
Dez Bryant, wide receiver, Dallas Cowboys -My how has the perception of Bryant changed over the last few months. A problem child on the verge of becoming the next Terrell Owens and shuttled out of Big D has emerged as a legitimate No. 1 receiver with the potential to be a perennial Pro Bowler, or even All-Pro. Bryant caught nine passes for 224 yards, including a pair of 58-yard touchdowns, in Sunday's 34-31 overtime loss to the Saints and now has 88 receptions for 1,311 yards and 12 touchdowns on the season, with 10 of his touchdowns coming over the last seven weeks. Four of those touchdowns have come since Bryant suffered a fractured left index finger that will require surgery after the season. If the rest of the Cowboys can come close to matching the level Bryant is playing at, that surgery could be delayed until well into the new year.
Jamaal Charles, running back, Kansas City Chiefs - Another player from a losing team, but Charles' 226-yard performance against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday deserves praise. Even when you remove his 86-yard touchdown run, Charles ran for 140 yards on 21 carries, an impressive 6.7-yards per carry average that any back would be ecstatic with. Charles is now averaging 5.82 yards per carry in his brief NFL career and on Sunday reached the requisite number of carries to qualify for the NFL record books, putting him ahead of the great Jim Brown.
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