NFL Awards Watch: Week 17

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Rookie back Eddie Lacy was a workhorse for the Packers in the absence of Aaron Rodgers.

Rookie back Eddie Lacy was a workhorse for the Packers in the absence of Aaron Rodgers.

3. Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers (NR): On the hot seat at one point, Ron Rivera became a potential COY candidate with a simple change of philosophy: trust your players and gamble a little more. He never really lived up to the "Riverboat Ron" moniker, but as the season wore on, it appeared he began to understand the mistakes he'd made in the past. Helping lead one of the best defenses in the league and as Cam Newton has grown, the Panthers developed into a legitimate NFC contender.