We suddenly find ourselves at the NFL mid-season mark. As usual, there are some surprises and disappointments this season. As we head into Week Nine of the regular season, let’s take a look at the leaders for the post season awards as of right now.
NFL Rookie of the Year-
There is no discussion here. Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton wins this award in a landslide. Newton has accounted for 18 scores this season, seven of those scores coming on the ground. Newton is on pace to set the single season rookie passing yardage record and could approach the 5,000 yard mark. Newton entered the NFL this season with several questions surrounding him, and he has done his best to silence his critics. When Carolina finds a way to improve their defense, the Panthers will be a team to reckon with.
NFL Coach of the Year-
This will be a very close race this season as there have been many surprises this year. Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey and Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz deserve consideration as does Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. However, at this point in the season, I have to give the nod to San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh has turned the Niners around full circle and they are a 3-point overtime loss away from having a perfect 7-0 record right now. He has positioned the 49ers in first place in the NFC West and is in line right now for a second seed and a first round playoff bye, hosting a playoff game. The job Harbaugh has done this season has been remarkable given the short time in the offseason he had to work with his new team.
NFL Most Valuable Player-
There are a few players which a case can be made for winning this award, Buffalo Bills RB Fred Jackson, Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson, New England Patriots Tom Brady but I think this is a slam dunk at the mid-season mark. Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is lighting it up this season on the field. A 71% completion percentage, 20 touchdowns and only three interceptions, 9.93 yards per pass attempt and an eye-popping 125.7 passer rating. Rodgers holds the NFL record for the highest career passer rating at 98.4 and he looks to improve that at the conclusion of this season.
NFL Comeback Player of the Year-
This award is generally given to a player which returns off an injury, but I’m going to take a different twist in my choice for this award. I think the front runner in this category is a player which has been a player for several seasons, but he was nearly written off after last season and is putting up some very impressive numbers at the mid-season mark, San Francisco 49ers QB Alex Smith. Smith is putting up the record setting offensive numbers that some of his fellow quarterbacks are, but he is putting up the best numbers of his career. Smith plays in a run-heavy oriented 49ers offense. The former first overall draft pick has only thrown two interceptions this season and has posted a 95.7 passer rating. Smith could set career numbers in passing yardage and touchdowns.
There are no awards for the teams which are the biggest surprise or disappointments of the season, but I’ll name mine at the mid-season mark. The biggest disappointment at this point has to be the Indianapolis Colts. Sure, the Colts didn’t know that they would be without QB Peyton Manning heading into the season, but the Colts certainly look as if they were going to struggle this season even if Manning had been able to play. This team has more holes than just the quarterback position.
There are several teams which have been surprises in the first half of the season. The Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals come to mind, but I have to go another direction. The Buffalo Bills. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has matured into becoming a quality starter. RB Fred Jackson is having a monster season and the Bills are playing solid football and have lost two games by a combined 6 points.
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