NFL Midseason Awards and Predictions

Courtesy of NFL
Courtesy of NFL

The NFL has officially reached its halfway point and whether your team has left you perpetually disappointed (looking at you, Chargers fans), pleasantly surprised (we see you, Raider Nation) or has met your expectations (hey, I knew my Jets wouldn’t be half bad) this season has been one of endless excitement — and, luckily for the NFL, one of considerably less controversy than the last. While time for reflection could certainly be useful, we decided to take a look ahead and predict which players may reap the league’s most prestigious awards come season’s end. We even took a shot at a Super Bowl prediction to top it off. Here’s what we came up with:

Most Valuable Player: Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots … Just about two and a half months ago, Tom Brady was staring a four-game suspension dead in the face for his alleged role in the media circus colloquially referred to as “Deflategate.” One overturned suspension and a half season later, we’re back to to the typical modus operandi for Tom Brady and the undefeated New England Patriots. Through the first seven weeks of the season, 38-year-old Brady has amassed 20 touchdowns and just one interception for a league-leading 115.8 passer rating. The wheels have clearly not stopped turning for the league’s best signal caller. (Cody)

Coach of the Year: Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals … The Cincinnati Bengals just keep finding ways to win games. Take their showdown against the Seattle Seahawks, in which they outscored the ‘Hawks 17-0 in the fourth quarter en route to a 27-24 victory in overtime. Or last week’s win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, where a struggling Andy Dalton was able to flip the switch in the fourth quarter and made plays when they mattered. Marvin Lewis’ team radiates an aura of swagger and mental fortitude never before seen in Cincy, and his status as the first coach to be 8-0 in AFC North history embodies that sentiment. (Cody)

Rams RB Todd Gurley stiff arms defender. (Courtesy of Fox Sports)
Rams RB Todd Gurley stiff arms defender. (Courtesy of Fox Sports)

Offensive Player of the Year: Todd Gurley, RB, St. Louis Rams … Gurley sat on the injured list for the first two games and was barely integrated into the offense during his week three debut. Yet, the rookie running back and his signature burst through the hole slots him fifth among this year’s rushing leaders and hones the highest YPA (6.1) in the NFL. All this while leading the St. Louis Rams to three wins in their last five games and changing the outlook of their season. Not only is Gurley the clear-cut most talented rookie of his class but it is hard to argue against his status as one of the league’s best runners (no, it is not too soon.). (Myles)

Defensive Player of the Year: Luke Kuechly, LB, Carolina Panthers … I considered slotting the age-defying Raiders defensive back, Charles Woodson here, but the now 8-0 Carolina Panthers have ran a freight train through the entire NFC and Kuechly is the conductor. Granted, Kuechly’s routine 150-plus tackles won’t be there come year’s end — due to three missed games early in the season — but the 24-year-old has asserted himself as the best linebacker in the league whilst anchoring the Panthers’ defense. Oh, and more highlight plays like last week’s game-saving interception against the Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football will probably help his cause, too. (Myles)

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders … Currently on pace for 1,291 receiving yards and seven touchdowns on the season, Amari Cooper and David Carr are stealing the show in Oakland as the city’s best receiver-quarterback duo since Rich Gannon and Jerry Rice. (Cody)

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Ronald Darby, CB, Buffalo Bills … Of all the pieces that were supposed to stand out on the ostensibly vaunted Buffalo Bills defense, Ronald Darby was certainly not supposed to be one of them. Currently allowing an average 38.2 passer rating when thrown at, the only cornerbacks that have allowed lower passer ratings are Josh Norman, Darrelle Revis and Patrick Robinson. That’s some good company to be in. (Cody)

Chiefs safety Eric Berry celebrates on field. (Courtesy of Sporting News)
Chiefs safety Eric Berry celebrates on field. (Courtesy of Sporting News)

Comeback Player of the Year: Eric Berry, S, Kansas City Chiefs … Berry wasn’t supposed to be here. But, less than a year after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, he is. And much like his story, the 29-year-old’s play has been quite inspiring as he’s anchored the secondary of a struggling Chiefs team and currently ranks as Pro Football Focus’ sixth-best safety on the season. This man, more than anybody else on this list, deserves an award. (Myles)

Super Bowl Champion:

Myles: Denver Broncos … The Broncos were my pick in the offseason and despite this past Sunday’s loss to the Colts, they’ve done nothing to make me hesitant about that prediction. Some may pit Denver’s dominant defense against what has been shaky offensive production and raise questions about their ability to put it all together come playoff time. To that, I say: just watch. Denver’s defense is by far the most disruptive in the league, quarterback Peyton Manning is showing greater reliability as of late and the growth of the run game should pay dividends in covering up any of Manning’s age-related deficiencies. Oh, and by the way, they also just acquired (*cough* stole *cough*) tight end Vernon Davis from the San Francisco 49ers. Call me crazy, but I see little standing in the way of the Lombardi trophy making its way over to the Mile High city. (Myles)

Cody: New England Patriots … The old adage that defense wins championships is a dead horse that has been beaten into extinction with the advent of the NFL’s scoreboard-friendly rule changes in recent years and the surgical precision of the league’s MVP-to-be. To say that this New England Patriots squad is even better than last year’s championship cohort is a lofty, but true statement. On the offensive side, Gronk is still Gronk, tailback Dion Lewis brings a new dimension to the offense and Julian Edelman brings back not-so-old memories of Wes Welker. Defensively, Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower star on what is shaping up to be one of the league’s premier front sevens that cover up for a suspect, but serviceable secondary. (Cody)

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