NFL 2017 – Midway Point Award Predictions

We’re already halfway through the 2017 season.

There’s been some ups and downs: The Texans are soaring under a new franchsie quarterback as the Patriots soar under the same name they have for almost two decades. The Packers and Giants have lost their jenga pieces and are falling apart, while teams like the Eagles and Chiefs continue to chug along despite major injuries.

At this point, we’ll look at the front runners for all of the yearly awards, as well as predict who in the playoffs race currently are going to be there at the end of the season and who are pretenders midway through.

Most Valuable Player:

Obviously the most prestigious and currently the jinx of the NFL; over the last 10 years, only five of the MVPs have made it to the Super Bowl (Tom Brady – 2007, Peyton Manning – 2009 and 2013, Cam Newton – 2015, and Matt Ryan – 2016), and they are a combined 0-5 in those games. Yikes.

The Front Runners for the MVP through Week 8, 2017:

Name Pass Att. Comp. % Pass Yards Pass Yds./Game Pass TDs INT Passer Rating W/L
Alex Smith 259 69.1 2,181 272.6 16 0 115.4 6-2
Tom Brady 309 66.7 2,541 317.6 16 2 106.5 6-2
Carson Wentz 264 61.0 2,063 257.9 19 5 101.6 7-1
Russell Wilson 258 63.6 2,008 286.9 15 4 100.4 5-2
DeShaun Watson 204 61.8 1,699 242.7 19 8 103.0 3-4

I know, I know. It always seems to be a race of who’s the hottest quarterback at the end of the season and into the postseason. Each of these quarterbacks have been impressive thus far. Alex Smith is leading the league in passer rating and has an astounding 16-0 TD:Int ratio (for reference: he threw for 15 touchdowns ALL of last year.)

Tom Brady and Russell Wilson both deserve to be at least mentioned because without them their respective teams would be crumbling. And while he has the dirtiest stat line (as in, most mistakes), DeShaun Watson has been a force since entering the league.

All that aside, I think the man in Philly will take home that honor, as Carson Wentz has made plays for his team week after week and shows how much he has progressed from season one to two.

Offensive Player of the Year:

Name Att. Rush Yds Rush Avg, Rec. Rec Yds Rec Avg, Total TDs W/L
Kareem Hunt 146 763 5.2 28 307 11 6 5-2
Leveon Bell 194 760 3.9 35 219 6.3 5 6-2
Antonio Brown x x x 57 835 14.6 3 6-2
DeAndre Hopkins x x x 45 606 13.5 7 3-4
Travis Kelce 2 7 3.5 44 556 12.6 4 6-2

I didn’t pick any quarterbacks for this section because, well that’s not very fun. I hope the voters who actually pick this stuff agree.

I feel like these are five players who could very likely end up in the race for Offensive Player of the Year, but I ultimate think that LeVeon Bell has the best shot, especially if he continues at this pace he is currently at. If he can stay healthy, he has this award in the bag.

Defensive Player of the Year:

  • Zach Brown (WAS – ILB): 75 combined tackles, 1.5 sacks
  • Demarcus Lawrence (DAL – DE): 29 combined tackles, 10.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries
  • Micah Hyde (BUF – SS): 30 combined tackles, 13 pass deflections, 5 interceptions
  • Harrison Smith (MIN – FS): 43 combined tackles, 1.5 sacks, 9 pass deflections, 3 interceptions
  • Calais Campbell (JAX – DE): 32 combined tackles, 10 sacks, 2 forced fumbles

This one is a little harder to predict, as a lot of these teams may peter off after the midway point. Who knows if Jacksonville will even be vying for a playoff spot in four weeks? All of these players have played extremely well overall though. My prediction is that Calais Campbell, head of the game wrecking Jacksonville defense will take home this honor.

Offensive Rookie of the Year:

  • Deshaun Watson (HOU – QB): 1,699 passing yards, 19 TDs 8 INTs, 103.0 Passer Rating, 269 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs
  • Kareem Hunt (KC – RB): 763 rushing yards, 4 rushing TDs, 28 receptions, 307 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs
  • Leonard Fournette (JAX – RB): 596 rushing yards, 6 rushing TDs, 15 receptions, 136 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
  • Christian McCaffrey (CAR – RB):  117 rushing yards, 49 receptions, 378 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs
  • Alvin Kamara (NO – RB): 243 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs, 31 receptions, 257 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT – WR): 24 receptions, 424 receiving yards, 4 receiving TDs
  • Evan Engram (NYG – TE): 30 receptions, 342 receiving yards, 3 receiving TDs

Alright, there’s a lot of young talent in the league right now. Which is good. But it does take a bit to whittle down who the cream of the crop are. Some of these may not even be considered at the end of the season, but I wanted to include all the players I thought had been exceptional in some ways this season thus far.

My prediction is that Kareem Hunt will take this. He;s slowed down from his meteoric start to his career, but I think he bounces back and finished with 1500+ rushing yards and 500+ receiving yards.

Defensive Rookie of the Year:

  • Myles Garrett (CLE – DE): 11 combined tackles, 4 sacks
  • TJ Watt (PIT – OLB): 28 combined tackles, 4 sacks, 5 pass deflections, 1 interception
  • Marshon Lattimore (NO – CB): 27 combined tackles, 9 pass deflections, 2 interceptions, 1 defensive touchdown, 1 forced fumble
  • Jamal Adams (NYJ – FS): 39 combined tackles, 2 sacks
  • Tre’Davious White (BUF – CB): 26 combined tackles, 13 pass deflections, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 defensive touchdown

I include Garrett for the simple fact that he was the 1st overall pick and I’m expecting him to get hot. Although, that may not be this year with his nagging injuries. Based on stats and play now, it’s hard to argue that Tre’Davious White doesn’t deserve the award. The only other person in serious contention is named Watt.

Comeback Player of the Year:

  • Keenan Allen (LAC – WR)
    • 2016 stats: 1 start, 6 receptions, 63 yards, 0 TDs
    • 2017 stats (so far): 8 starts, 40 receptons, 548 yards, 1 TD
    • Estimate for whole season: 15 starts, 75 rec, 1096 yards, 4 TDs
  • Justin Houston (KC – OLB)
    • 2016 stats: 5 starts, 21 combined tackles, 4 sacks, 1 pass deflection
    • 2017 stats (so far: 8 starts, 35 combined tackles, 7.5 sacks, 4 pass deflections)
    • Estimate for whole season: 16 starts, 65 combined tackles, 12.5 sacks, 5 pass deflections, 1 interception
  • Earl Thomas (SEA – FS)
    • 2016 stats: 11 starts, 48 tackles, 10 pass deflections, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, 1 defensive touchdown
    • 2017 stats (so far): 7 starts, 38 combined tackles, 5 pass deflections, 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, 1 defensive touchdown
    • Estimate for whole season: 14 starts, 70 combined tackles, 8 pass deflections, 3 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 1 defensive touchdown
  • Desmond Trufant (ATL – CB)
    • 2016 stats: 9 starts, 31 combined tackles, 2 sacks, 4 pass deflections, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles
    • 2017 stats (so far): 16 combined tackles, 1 sack, 4 pass deflections, 1 interception
    • Estimate of whole season: 16 starts, 60 combined tackles, 1 sack, 15 pass deflections, 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble

This is another tough category because a lot of Comeback players have been hurt as well. JJ Watt is hurt again. Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch have both been less than ideal. I give this one to Justin Houston, simply because he’s been the most consistent this season.

Coach of the Year:

  • Andy Reid (KC):
    • W/L: 6-2
    • Total Offense Rank: 2
    • Total Defense Rank: 30
  • Doug Pederson (PHI):
    • W/L: 7-1
    • Total Offense Rank: 3
    • Total Defense Rank: 23
  • Mike Tomlin (PIT):
    • W/L: 6-2
    • Total Offense Rank: 4
    • Total Defense Rank: 10
  • Mike Zimmer (MIN):
    • W/L: 6-2
    • Total Offense Rank: 5
    • Total Defense Rank: 7
  • Pete Carroll (SEA):
    • W/L: 5-2
    • Total Offense Rank: 10
    • Total Defense Rank: 13

It’ll really depend on who makes it farther/farthest in the playoffs, but I have to give the most credit to Zimmer and the Minnesota team. Immense uncertainty at the quarterback position and losing your breakout rookie running back to injury, while still maintaining a lead in the division is really impressive.

Playoff Predictions:

Okay, here are the playoff spots as they stand now:

AFC:

  1. Steelers (6-2)
  2. Chiefs (6-2)
  3. Patriots (6-2)
  4. Titans (4-3)
  5. Bills (5-2)
  6. Jaguars (4-3)

And AFC just missed the playoffs: Dolphins (4-3), Ravens (4-4) and Texans (3-4)

NFC:

  1. Eagles (7-1)
  2. Vikings (6-2)
  3. Seahawks (5-2)
  4. Saints (5-2)
  5. Rams (5-2)
  6. Panthers (5-3)

And NFC just missed the playoffs: Falcons (4-3), Packers (4-3) and Cowboys (4-3)

Teams that are in now that won’t be in the playoffs in January…

  • Titans: I love Mariota but this team is too inconsistent in a tight division with the Jaguars and Texans both breathing down their necks.
  • Panthers: Cam is a dynamic player and that defense is great. But now they have no #1 receiver… or #1 tight end… and they basically have no consistent running game… so…

Teams that are not in the playoffs now that will be in January:

  • Falcons: I just see this team figuring it out in the second half of the season. Or losing all of their games. Like, there’s no in between.
  • Texans: I think the Texans and the Titans are switching spots by Week 17. Deshaun Watson will be hosting a playoff game as the AFC South champions.

Super Bowl picks:

  • Super Bowl: Eagles over Chiefs
  • AFC Championship: Chiefs over Patriots
  • NFC Championship: Eagles over Vikings

Well, there’s my predictions at the midway point of all of the major awards and playoff positions. Let’s see how completely wrong I am in a short few four months!

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