Let's take an afternoon run through some odds and ends from all around the division:
In this Insider post, KC Joyner makes a strong case for Matt Ryan to win the Most Valuable Player award. Ryan has had a great season, but Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Adrian Peterson probably will win the award.
Coach Mike Smith said Thomas DeCoud and William Moore have played as well as any safety tandem in the league. He’s right. Both of those guys took some time to develop, but they’ve turned into very solid players this season.
Pro Football Focus has its own choices for the NFC Pro Bowl roster and you’ll see multiple NFC South representatives. But the one choice that kind of surprised me was Atlanta right tackle Tyson Clabo. You don’t hear much about him, but Pro Football Focus says he’s the NFL’s most consistent right tackle.
Quarterback Cam Newton had a pretty profound quote when he said he’s found out as the season has gone on that the Panthers aren’t a one-man team. Makes you wonder if Newton perhaps was trying too hard when he struggled early in the season. Whatever, he certainly has looked much more comfortable recently.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Dallas coach Jason Garrett danced around questions over speculation Sean Payton could end up taking his job. There really isn’t anything Garrett can say. He just has to hope the Cowboys end the season well and Payton and the Saints can agree to a contract.
Right tackle Zach Strief (ankle) sat out Wednesday’s practice. His backup, Charles Brown, already is on injured reserve, so it looks as if William Robinson could get another start.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Check out this Insider post in which Matt Williamson said that rookie linebacker Lavonte David reminds him of Derrick Brooks. David still needs some work to get to Brooks’ level, but he’s had an excellent rookie season.
Receivers coach P.J. Fleck, who has been hired as the head coach at Western Michigan will finish the season with the Buccaneers.
Coach Greg Schiano said he doesn’t plan to reduce running back Doug Martin’s carries with the Bucs out of the playoff race. That makes sense. The Bucs need to get back on a good track and carry some positive momentum into the offseason. Martin is one of their best offensive players, so there’s no reason to stop giving him the ball.
St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher had some praise for quarterback Josh Freeman, who hasn’t been getting much praise from Tampa Bay fans in recent weeks.