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NFL power rankings: Where Detroit Lions' Dan Campbell ranks on my Coach of the Year ballot

We are three quarters (or so) of the way through the season for most NFL teams, which means it’s time to take stock once again of who’s in the running for the league’s major awards for the regular season.

I am one of the 50 Associated Press All-Pro voters this year, and while we’re not supposed to share our ballots once they’re cast to help keep the winners a secret, there’s enough season left and enough uncertainty in my mind that I’m using this space partially to talk through the process.

Here’s where my head is on a couple of the top awards, plus my weekly NFL power rankings:

MVP: C.J. Stroud, Houston Texans

Maybe it’s cause I’m new to the process, but this award feels more up for grabs than usual in early December. Patrick Mahomes is having another excellent season and covering for a lot of his team’s offensive warts, but his numbers aren’t otherworldly and there are other players lifting their teams to similar success.

C.J. Stroud leads the NFL in passing yards and his 20-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio (with three of those picks in one game) is phenomenal for a rookie. If he leads a Texans team most figured would be one of the worst in the league to the playoffs, he’ll be tough to beat for the award. Quarterbacks Brock Purdy, Jalen Hurts and Dak Prescott and non-quarterbacks Christian McCaffrey and Tyreek Hill also are in the mix. Prescott has been on a heater of late, and Purdy and McCaffrey could end up splitting votes on the best team in the NFL.

Defensive Player of the Year: Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns

Browns defensive end Myles Garrett.
Browns defensive end Myles Garrett.

This is probably a three-horse race between Garrett, T.J. Watt and Micah Parsons. Garrett and Watt are the best players on some of the NFL’s best defenses and the stars of playoff-contending teams that have little else going for them. Watt has 14 sacks, second only to Khalil Mack (15), and Garrett is fifth with 13. Garrett practically single-handedly beat the Colts this year in a performance that remains etched in my mind.

Parsons (11½ sacks) is one of the most dominant and unique defensive players of this era. He’d probably be third on my ballot right now, but there’s not much separating the top three and how they perform down the stretch could be the deciding factor.

DaRon Bland (with five interceptions returned for touchdowns) and Maxx Crosby lead the list of other candidates.

DAVE BIRKETT: Inside the Lions den: Sam LaPorta chasing historic rookie season, 2024 schedule nugget

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Stroud

There’s not much debating this one: Stroud is head and shoulders the most impressive rookie in a class that features good offensive skill talent. Los Angeles Rams receiver Puka Nacua (77 catches, 1,029 yards) has cooled some since his incredible start, though he’s still dangerous, and Lions rookies Sam LaPorta and Jahmyr Gibbs are worthy of votes, but everyone not named Stroud is playing for second.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Jalen Carter, Philadelphia Eagles

Carter has only a half-sack in the past two months, but gets a slight edge for now over Seahawks cornerback Devon Witherspoon based on the impact he has had on the Eagles defense. Both Carter (4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles) and Witherspoon (1 INT, 3 sacks) have some spotlight games ahead to make a case for the award.

Lions safety Brian Branch hit a bit of a midseason lull after he missed time with an ankle injury, but Branch reminded everyone he’s one of the best defensive players in this class with his one-handed interception last Sunday. Both he and the Texans’ Will Anderson, who has come on strong with four sacks in the past five games, are viable candidates for the award.

THE DEBATE: Lions were right to pass on Jalen Carter and draft Jahmyr Gibbs, Sam LaPorta

Coach of the Year: Dan Campbell, Detroit Lions

Lions coach Dan Campbell reacts after a play during the first half on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023, in New Orleans.
Lions coach Dan Campbell reacts after a play during the first half on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023, in New Orleans.

This is another toss-up with a number of viable candidates for the award. Call me a homer, but I lean Campbell with five games to play. He has the Lions in contention for the No. 1 seed in the NFC and ranks highly in analytical measures like “win percentage added” based on his in-game decision making.

DeMeco Ryans is an extremely worthy candidate for his work in Houston as a first-year coach, and I wouldn’t rule Sean Payton, Mike McDaniel, Nick Sirianni, Shane Steichen or Kyle Shanahan out of the mix, either. There are more coaches doing noteworthy jobs this season than there are spots on the ballot.

TRENDING: Lions' Dan Campbell has potential to become the city's next Hall of Fame coach

NFL power rankings for Week 14

1. San Francisco 49ers (9-3)

2. Philadelphia Eagles (10-2)

3. Baltimore Ravens (9-3)

4. Dallas Cowboys (9-3)

5. Miami Dolphins (9-3)

6. Detroit Lions (9-3)

7. Kansas City Chiefs (8-4)

8. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4)

9. Houston Texans (7-5)

10. Cleveland Browns (7-5)

11. Indianapolis Colts (7-5)

12. Buffalo Bills (6-6)

13. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5)

14. Green Bay Packers (6-6)

15. Seattle Seahawks (6-6)

16. Denver Broncos (6-6)

17. Los Angeles Rams (6-6)

18. Minnesota Vikings (6-6)

19. Las Vegas Raiders (5-7)

20. Atlanta Falcons (6-6)

21. Los Angeles Chargers (5-7)

22. Cincinnati Bengals (6-6)

23. New Orleans Saints (5-7)

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7)

25. Chicago Bears (4-8)

26. Tennessee Titans (4-8)

27. New York Jets (4-8)

28. Washington Commanders (4-9)

29. New York Giants (4-8)

30. Arizona Cardinals (3-10)

31. New England Patriots (2-10)

32. Carolina Panthers (1-11)

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him @davebirkett.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Predicting NFL award winners with 5 games to play: Power rankings