Boy does October seem like a long time ago. After the 8th week of the NFL season, I went about predicting what the NFL post-season award scene would look like, and made a few other guesses for the second half. Some I got right, but others changed drastically. If you want to see the original post for explanations of my picks at the time, you can do so here. Now though, it’s time to look back on what went right and what went wrong in the second half of the 2017 NFL season. Time to check myself AFTER I wrecked myself…
NFL MVP: Carson Wentz, Eagles QB
While Wentz will not end up the 2017 MVP, I’m going to be lenient on myself off the bat, and not chalk this up as wrong. Wentz would have run away with the award if he’d played the full season, especially given Tom Brady’s un-Bradlylike December (I did say a ‘big second half surge’ could put Brady back on top). Brady was named AP 1st Team All-Pro QB, a recognition that has gone hand in hand with the NFL MVP 9 out of the last 10 years. Brady’s only competition at this point is Todd Gurley, who I did not mention in October.
Defensive Player of the Year: DeMarcus Lawrence, Cowboys DE
Like I predicted in October, Lawrence would need a strong second half or he wouldn’t be the favorite come voting time. While he is still in the discussion, he is in the mix with quite a few players, including Calais Campbell and Everson Griffen (who I mentioned) and Aaron Donald and Cameron Jordan (who I didn’t).
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Kareem Hunt, Chiefs RB
This was the most cursed award in football this year. First Dalvin Cook was the favorite, before tearing his ACL, with Deshaun Watson following suit a few weeks earlier. When I evaluated the field back in October, I gave Hunt a slight nod, mentioning a tight pack consisting of Watson, Fornette, Kamara, and McCaffrey close behind him. Of that group, only Kamara separated, and boy did he, carrying New Orleans to a division championship and their first playoff appearance in three years. The only question for the voters is how much they care about Hunt’s mid-season lull. To me, it should be enough to send Kamara home with the hardware.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Marcus Maye, Jets FS
Oops. At the time I wrote my column in October, Maye was 2nd among NFL rookies in tackles, and was tied for the lead in interceptions, so naturally I had him running away with the award. The only other name I mentioned, and did so briefly, was Eddie Jackson, who was coming off of his 2 TD game. According to Sports Illustrated’s polling, neither of those players will finish in the top 10 for the award. What I *briefly* forgot is that a good defensive back doesn’t have a lot of tackles, but rather very few, since they don’t get thrown at or break up a lot of passes. The Saint’s Marshon Lattimore has been an outstanding lockdown corner, especially given the fact he plays in the NFL’s most pass-happy division, the NFC South. A combination of Kamara and Lattimore would be historic, as teammates have only won ROTY in the same year just once, in 1967, the first year the award was given out. If for whatever reason the voters want to look elsewhere, TJ Watt had himself a nice freshman campaign in Pittsburgh.
Special Teams Player of the Year: Greg Zuerlein, Rams K
Even though he missed the last few games of the year, reason stands this award should go to Greg The Leg, who led the NFL in points with 158 on the season. He finished tied for second in makes (38) and percentage (95%) and was 6 for 7 from beyond 50 yards. No brainer.
Coach of the Year: Sean McVay, Rams
I said back in October “anything 9 wins or better should earn McVay Coach of the Year”. He got to 11, so I’m pretty handcuffed here. That being said, it’s tough to find anyone who did close to the job McVay did, turning a 4-12 team into a legitimate threat to win the NFC. I feel safe in saying he will win the award by a good margin, but if anyone is going to challenge him it would be Mike Zimmer in Minnesota, who built perhaps the Rams biggest contender around a 3rd string quarterback.
Super Bowl Favorite: Philadelphia Eagles
At the time, the Eagles had the best record in football, which made them my de facto favorite. Obviously circumstances have changed, and Philly is the one team you really CAN’T make a case for to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. While I see Minnesota coming out of that side of the bracket and playing in the first home Super Bowl in NFL history, the tough road they will have to take to get their may wear them out too much. The only threat for the Patriots in the AFC is…wait for it…the Jacksonville Jaguars, who while not as talented as the Steelers have the typical roster makeup of a team that gives the Patriots fits. Even with that being the case, I see Pittsburgh stopping Jacksonville before they get to New England, and we all know how the story goes from there.
I also made some general predictions about the second half of the NFL season…
8 Bold Predictions for the NFL’s Second Half
-The Patriots will be the only AFC East team to make the playoffs. (Close, but no. Thanks Andy Dalton.)
-Despite playing the season with a backup QB, Minnesota finishes with a top-5 ranked offense. (They finished in 11th)
-The Atlanta Falcons will miss the playoffs, and Dan Quinn is fired. (Again, close. I know how to pick those 6 seeds!)
-The top 2 picks from 2015 (Winston, Mariota) will be on the quarterback hot seat by the end of the year. (Mariota will be in the playoffs, but he’s far from the reason his team is there. His status will be predicated on his performance against KC. As for Winston, his job should be in serious jeopardy if he doesn’t light things up to start the season next year)
-Eagles @ Rams Week 14 will be the most exciting game of the year. (It was certainly one of them with the Eagles winning late, 43-35. This game also featured the play that changed the landscape of the NFC when Carson Wentz tore his ACL. But even with all that, Patriots/Steelers was no question the cream of the crop in 2017)
-The Chargers will set a 10-year NFL low for single season home attendance. (The Bolts ushered 783,367 fans through their gates this year, the lowest in the league in the last 10 years BY ALMOST 200,000)
-The San Francisco 49ers will win multiple games (Thanks Jimmy 😉)
-None of the 2004 quarterback draft class (Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, and Philip Rivers) will be starting on their current teams to open 2018 training camps. (Obviously we won’t know this for some time, but Eli’s finish was quite telling).
Written By: Alex Barth (@RealAlexBarth)