NFL Nation reporters from the AFC North -- Jeremy Fowler, Coley Harvey, Jamison Hensley and Pat McManamon -- have reviewed the film and sorted through the analytics to determine the 2015 annual awards for the division. On Friday, we hand out the AFC North most valuable player.
Winner: Ben Roethlisberger
Runner-up: Antonio Brown
Brown gave 136 reasons why he's an MVP candidate. Andy Dalton had the league's second-highest passer rating before a thumb injury derailed his season.
But Ben Roethlisberger was clearly the catalyst for the AFC North's best offense. He earned his divisional MVP award with playmaking ability that few matched in 2015.
Roethlisberger's 328 passing yards per game led the NFL. He consistently challenged defenses in fearless fashion. For much of the season, Roethlisberger's passes, on average, traveled nearly 11 yards in the air before reaching a receiver, also tops in the league.
This is not a check-down quarterback. This is one of the most feared, and one of the most difficult matchups for defensive coordinators.
Who else beat the league's best defense, Denver, with 55 passing attempts? Fifty-five!
Yes, Roethlisberger's 16 interceptions in 12 games were a problem. He averaged 1.3 per game. Only Peyton Manning (1.7) had a worse average in 10 or more starts. But Roethlisberger averaged 39.1 passing attempts per game. Only Philip Rivers and Drew Brees threw more often. The Steelers could live with the picks because of the quarterback's knack for making big plays.
The Steelers should consider themselves lucky they went 2-2 without Roethlisberger. Just consider Brown's production. He averaged 133 yards per game with Big Ben and 59 per game without him. For as great as Brown is, Roethlisberger still stirs the drink.
The Steelers' streak of six straight games with at least 30 points was truly special, and Roethlisberger's arm drove that streak. He played through several injuries to stay on the field. He's thrived in Todd Haley's system that emphasizes rhythm and timing in the passing game.
Roethlisberger is undervalued in his own locker room, winning one team-voted MVP in 12 seasons. Not here. He's a logical choice as division MVP.