Now that we are about halfway through the NFL season, let’s look at some midseason award winners and playoff predictions.
MVP usually goes to the best player on the best team. Right now the best teams are the Chiefs and Rams. And right now their best players are Patrick Mahomes and Todd Gurley respectively. Through 8 games this year, Mahomes has over 2500 yards, 26 TDs, and only 6 Ints with a QB rating of 115.3. Gurley has 800 yards rushing and 11 rushing TDs along with 31 catches for 351 yards and 4 TDs. Gurley is on pace for over 2300 scrimmage yards, 62 catches, and 30 TDs. It’s tough to choose one of these guys as most valuable because they both are integral to their teams’ success. However, I’ll lean towards Patrick Mahomes because QBs get the award more often than not. MVP: Patrick Mahomes
Offensive Player of the Year
I’m not going to write about this one too much because I basically did in the last section. This award will come down to Gurley and Mahomes. I think whoever doesn’t win MVP will win this award. Since I think Mahomes is going to be the MVP, Gurley will defend his title and win this award again. OPOY: Todd Gurley
Defensive Player of the Year
Since no one is having a standout year in terms of interceptions, the category that will determine this one will likely be sacks. Right now, Aaron Donald is the sack leader with 10. Guys like JJ Watt, Dee Ford, and Von Miller could also be in contention, given that they have 8 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. A more dark horse pick could be someone like Frank Clark, who has 6.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and an interception. We could also see someone like Khalil Mack get hot once he’s healthy and make a run at DPOY. Especially considering the Bears play some bad offensive lines in the second half of the season. This race is wide open, but I’ll go with the reigning DPOY on this one. DPOY: Aaron Donald
Offensive Rookie of the Year
There are a lot of rookies who are playing and play well right now. Although they’ve made mistakes (as to be expected), Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold look pretty solid overall right now. Calvin Ridley started the season red hot but has since cooled off. Sony Michel was in early contention for the award but lose some steam due to his injury. Ultimately, this award is Saquon Barkley’s to lose. Through 8 games, he has 519 rush yards and 5 TDs (and is averaging 4.7 ypc) and he’s been just as potent in the pass game, with 58 catches for 497 yards and 2 TDs. The Giants drafted him second despite a lot of criticism. With the season lost, I’m sure the Giants will keep feeding him the ball to help him develop and to show people that it was the right move. OROY: Saquon Barkley
Defensive Rookie of the Year
There’s been a lot of rookie defensive players having very solid years. Bradley Chubb has 7 sacks so far, with 5.5 coming in just the last three games. If this is a sign that he’s ready to get hot, he could make a run for DPOY. Denzel Ward has 39 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 9 pass deflections. Derwin James only has 1 interception but he does have 44 tackles and 3.5 sacks along with 6 pass deflections. While i think this award is much more open then OROY, I’d give the nod to Darius Leonard. Through 8 games, he has 88 tackles, 4 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles. He’s by far the best player on a Colts defense that needs all the help it can get. DROY: Darius Leonard
Coach of the Year
Typically, this award goes to a playoff team. Most people would probably be looking at Sean McVay, Andy Reid, or Sean Payton. However, if the Seahawks make the playoffs, Pete Carroll should get the award. Most people buried the Seahawks in the preseason. They were in a division with one of the best teams in football, the Legion of Boom was all but dismantled, the offensive line was terrible, and outside of Russell Wilson, they had no weapons on offense. Now at the halfway mark, they are 4-3. While the division may be nearly out of reach, they are firmly in the driver’s seat for a wild card spot. And, the second half of their season is very favorable, with 6 of their final 8 games at home. And we all know how hard it is to win in Seattle. Just a little fun fact about Russell Wilson: He has never lost a home game against an AFC team. Let that sink in. COY: Pete Carroll if the Seahawks make playoffs, otherwise, Sean Payton.
With the playoff picture starting to take shape, here’s what I think the final 12 teams will look like:
Probably the biggest surprise here is the Colts winning the AFC South. While I like the Texans, I think that the Colts are starting to look better as Andrew Luck gains more confidence. Their defense isn’t great but their offense is good enough to overcome it. What’s also favorable is that in their last 8 games, they play one team that currently has a winning record (the Texans). If they can go 6-2 in those games, then 9-7 could easily win that division.
The Saints and Rams play this week and I think this game will ultimately decide the one seed. Since the Saints will be at home, I think they’ll win it. The Packers looked good last week vs the Rams and had a pretty good chance to win had Ty Montgomery not fumbled. With the Bears and Vikings looking inconsistent, this division is theirs to lose. The Redskins haven’t been dominant this year but they keep winning. With a two game lead over the Eagles, they are in a good position to win the division. The Eagles have looked better and I think they’ll make a run at the division but will fall just short. The Panthers have continued to look good but I don’t think they’ll be able to challenge the Saints, who are the superior team.
-Stephen Brown III (@sbtrey23)
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