By Jim Trotter
October 09, 2012

The pulse of the NFL season changes weekly. Every Tuesday, will break down the front-runners for the major NFL awards.

1. Matt Ryan, Falcons (last week: 1). The fifth-year QB is the major reason his team is one of two undefeateds. He is so cool under pressure, including when he led the Falcons past the Redskins on Sunday. He ranks No. 2 in TD passes and rating, and is tied for third in yards.

2. Percy Harvin, Vikings (NR). The fourth-year wideout is the league's most dangerous multipurpose threat. He has scored as a receiver, a rusher and a returner, and is a major reason Minnesota is tied for the NFC's second-best record.

3. J.J. Watt, Texans (2). The second-year defensive end does it all: rush the passer, bat down balls at the line of scrimmage, drop into passing lanes, stop the run. A complete player. A dominant player.

1. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs (NR). After missing nearly all of last season with a knee injury, the veteran running back leads all rushers with 551 yards and tops all players with three carries of 40 yards or longer. He's also a threat as a receiver. In two of his past three games he gained 288 and 161 yards from scrimmage.

2. Reggie Wayne, Colts (NR). The veteran wideout is averaging a league-high 126.5 yards per game and is tied for fourth with eight catches of at least 20 yards. More impressive: He's doing this despite Indianapolis having an inconsistent running game and a rookie QB.

3. Arian Foster, Texans (NR). He's No. 2 in rushing with 532 yards and leads all rushers with five scores. He has gone over 100 yards in three of his last four games, despite being the focal point of every defense.

1. J.J. Watt, Texans (1). See MVP.

2. Charles Tillman, Bears (NR). His position is cornerback. His role is playmaker. He has returned two interceptions for scores and has forced a fumble. He and Tim Jennings comprise one of the game's top cornerback tandems.

3. NaVorro Bowman, 49ers">49ers (2). The inside linebacker often gets overshadowed by teammate Patrick Willis, but Bowman should take a back seat to no one. He leads S.F. with 49 tackles and has six passes defensed and an interception.

1. Robert Griffin III, Redskins (1). The double threat from Baylor is mature beyond his years in every aspect but one: He has to learn to throw away the football and get out of bounds instead of taking hits outside the pocket. Other than that, he's playing well enough to be a candidate for league MVP.

2. Andrew Luck , Colts (2). Coming off a bye, the Stanford QB rallied his team to an emotional win over the Packers. He's the only first-year passer averaging more than 300 yards a game, and his seven TDs are No. 1 among all rookies.

3. Alfred Morris, Redskins (3). The sixth-round pick ranks third in the league in rushing with an average of 98.2 yards per game and is tied for second with four rushing scores. His 25 rushing first downs are No. 1 among all rookies.

1. Chandler Jones, Patriots (1). The defensive end has 18 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles. He has been a consistent presence for New England, which has definitely found a core player for years to come.

2. Bruce Irvin, Seahawks (2). The first-round pick from West Virginia was drafted for one reason: to pressure the quarterback. He leads all rookies with 4.5 sacks and has had multiple sacks in two of his last three games.

3. Janoris Jenkins, Rams (NR). The cornerback has only one interception and three passes defensed, but he has been a standout for St. Louis, unafraid of the big moments, such as when he was matched one-on-one against Pro Bowl receiver Larry Fitzgerald at the end of the game last Thursday.

1. Mike Smith, Falcons (1). He has the Falcons off to a 5-0 start for the first time in franchise history.

2. Leslie Frazier, Vikings (3). Raise your hand if you had Minnesota being 4-1 through five games.

3. Gary Kubiak, Texans (NR). Coaching one of only two undefeated teams. Enough said.

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