Now that every team has played at least eight games, here are my picks for NFL awards at the midseason point. Unlike some ridiculous experts who decided to make their choices based on what they expected in August, I’m basing my picks on what actually happened in Weeks 1-9.
Most Valuable Player – Peyton Manning
By definition MVP almost has to be a quarterback, and there are some really good seasons in progress right now, but Manning has outclassed them all so far.
Manning leads the league in:
- DVOA (35.5%) and DYAR (962) (see FO)
- Total QBR (86.9)
- Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt (8.69)
- Touchdown pass percentage (7.8%)
- Win Probability Added (2.99)
- Expected Points Added per Play (0.32)
Otherwise, not much going on here. Andrew Luck is barely beating him out in EPA and TD passes, but he’s also played one more game than Manning, which will equal out this week with the Colts on a bye.
Plain and simple, no quarterback has been more consistently valuable this season than Manning. Philip Rivers is on a three-game losing streak that has buried him in the race, which he really never led in my view. Aaron Rodgers has been great, but his three road losses certainly look worse than Manning’s two, especially the respective efforts in Seattle. Ben Roethlisberger has been white hot the last two weeks, but he scored a total of 26 points in Baltimore, Jacksonville and Cleveland this year. It’s nice of the Chiefs to light a fire under Tom Brady’s ass, but that September start leaves him well behind the lead.
Offensive Player of the Year – DeMarco Murray
While I’m really starting to warm up to Antonio Brown for this award, let’s take a chance to reward Murray’s consistency at a position that has been so neglected in recent years. Eight 100-yard rushing games to start a season is a heck of a record to set in 2014, and it’s helped to keep that Dallas defense off the field. Now if only he’d stop fumbling.
Defensive Player of the Year – J.J. Watt
Is this one already wrapped up? Who else even stands out? While WPA is a pretty flawed stat when used for defensive players, I like that it says Watt is so far and away the best DE in the NFL. His WPA in 2012 was 3.20 and 2.32 last season. He’s already at 2.22 this season with seven games to go. He impacts the game in so many ways and he’s done it this year with virtually zero help from Jadeveon Clowney, which was supposed to be the plan.
Coach of the Year – Bruce Arians
I said BA had a death grip on this award after Week 8 and some Dallas fans weren’t too pleased with that. Well, he proved it again last week with a convincing win in Dallas after Jason Garrett spent the week playing an injured Romo in OT and getting away from DeMarco Murray with Brandon Weeden in the game. Arians has been COTY material for the last three years now. He does it by being aggressive on both sides of the ball and getting the most out of his flawed teams. Imagine if the Cardinals had Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington and John Abraham on defense this year. They’ve held everyone but Denver under 21 points without those guys so far.
The Arizona Cardinals have the best record in the entire NFL at 7-1. That fact alone is worthy of the award.
Offensive Rookie of the Year – Zack Martin
I like some of the rookie WRs, but wish the best ones (Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Kelvin Benjamin) had better QB play to show off their skills more. And I guess the Steelers waited too long to get Martavis Bryant involved for him to be in the discussion, though keep catching TDs every week and we’ll see come December. So for now let’s just go with the boring choice of Martin, a guard who was like the final piece of the puzzle to Dallas’ high-resource cost OL.
Defensive Rookie of the Year – Anthony Barr
This definitely looks headed to a linebacker, whether it’s Barr, C.J. Mosley or don’t forget Oakland’s Khalil Mack. I’m going with Barr for now based on impact plays, and few were better by a defender this year than his strip, recovery and return for a game-winning touchdown in overtime against Tampa Bay. I know one of Mosley’s interceptions was caught off a deflection this year, so I’m not terribly impressed with that one, but he’s working out as expected for Baltimore.
Comeback Player of the Year – Rob Gronkowski
Always hate this award with its goofy criteria, so let’s just go with the guy who tore his ACL in December and has returned to being the best TE in football, and arguably the toughest overall skill player to defend.
NFL Week 10 Predictions
I should know better than to trust the Bengals in a prime-time game with a division lead at stake, but since when am I supposed to trust the Browns too? Crazy year in the AFC North.
Winners in bold:
- Falcons at Buccaneers
- Cowboys at Jaguars
- Chiefs at Bills
- Steelers at Jets
- 49ers at Saints
- Dolphins at Lions
- Titans at Ravens
- Broncos at Raiders
- Giants at Seahawks
- Rams at Cardinals
- Bears at Packers
- Panthers at Eagles
I sure don’t trust the Falcons, but Mike Smith might be out of a job if he takes a bad loss in Tampa Bay here. Remember Week 3? It’s the last time the Falcons looked competent for more than three quarters.
Put the Steelers on upset alert in New Jersey. That’s exactly the kind of game they should win, which is exactly why it’s the kind of game they’ll make a nail biter and possibly lose. I didn’t pick them to lose, but I know Michael Vick has started three times against Pittsburgh and every game was decided on the final snap. Injuries on defense should allow for Vick to have some favorable matchups with the weapons available to him. Ben Roethlisberger will come back to Earth eventually and the Jets have a defensive line capable of helping in that.
- Week 1: 8-8
- Week 2: 9-7
- Week 3: 11-5
- Week 4: 8-5
- Week 5: 11-4
- Week 6: 9-5-1
- Week 7: 10-5
- Week 8: 10-5
- Week 9: 11-2
- Total: 87-46-1
Had Colin Kaepernick scored last week I would be forever cursing the Chargers for that 37-0 ass-whipping straight out of The Twilight Zone for costing me a perfect week. Even if it was just 13-0, I want a perfect week at least once in my life.