Oct 27, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) calls out a play at the line of scrimmage during the first half against the Washington Redskins at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Since we’re halfway through the NFL season at this point, or at least pretty close to it, I figure that it would proper to give you my NFL Mid Season Award winners at this point. It’s been a very intriguing season so far in the NFL, highlighted by some amazing performances, and some absolute duds as well. In this piece I’ll give you all the traditional awards, but also give you some other categories like biggest surprise and biggest bust on the year, for both individuals and teams. So let’s jump right into this with the most obvious award so far, the MVP.
Most Valuable Player: Peyton Manning, Quarterback, Denver Broncos
This one is about as obvious as it gets. Peyton Manning is on pace to smash records this year, and has lead his Broncos to a 7-1 record to start the year. 29 touchdowns, 2919 yards, just six interceptions, 71% completion percentage and a 119 quarterback rating. Yep, that seems like an MVP to me. At this rate Manning will hit 58 touchdowns, and over 5800 yards passing, both shattering the previous records held by Tom Brady and Drew Brees. Even if he does slow down a bit in the second half, and I imagine he will, with defenses figuring him out a bit more, but at this rate, Manning has run away with the MVP award. I know some people will say people like Brady and Adrian Peterson are more “valuable” to their teams, but the MVP is really who’s the best player in the league, and that man is Peyton Manning. It’s his award to lose.
Offensive Player of the Year: Jamaal Charles, Running Back, Kansas City Chiefs
A lot of people will say that this award belongs to Peyton Manning as well, but I don’t want to give him two awards. Besides, the guy is throwing to easily the best receiving core in football. I’m giving the Offensive Player of the Year to Jamaal Charles, otherwise known as the Chiefs offense. Charles is at 725 yards rushing, good for third in the league, only one back of Marshawn Lynch and just about 50 back of LeSean McCoy. But the real reason I’m giving him this award has been his versatility in the Chiefs offense. He’s caught 47 passes for nearly 400 yards and two touchdowns, the only other running back who can touch these numbers is Danny Woodhead, but he’s almost primarily a pass catching back, and splits the backfield with Ryan Mathews. Charles even leads his team in catches, which is astounding for a running back. It’s been a fantastic first half for Charles, and with the success the Chiefs have been getting, don’t expect any let up from him anytime soon.
Defensive Player of the Year: Robert Mathis, Linebacker, Indianapolis Colts
This is another award that doesn’t have much competition for it. Robert Mathis has had a career year so far this year, with 11.5 sacks in just eight games, placing him at the top of the league, filled with superstar pass rushers like Justin Houston and Mario Williams. Mathis has been one of the biggest, if not the biggest reason the Colts are having a great year, and leading their division at 6-2. Back three weeks ago when they knocked off the previously undefeated Denver Broncos, Robert Mathis made life miserable for former teammate Peyton Manning, dropping him twice. With the way the Colts are rolling, I would expect Mathis to continue this dominating play.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Eddie Lacy, Running Back, Green Bay Packers
Another award that is being run away with, Eddie Lacy has shown up and become the feature back the Packers had hoped he would be. It was a rough start for Lacy, as he showed up to camp overweight, and suffered a concussion just a few games into the season. But since then, Lacy has been rolling over everything in his path. In just six games, he’s complied almost 600 yards, and four touchdowns, giving the Packers much needed balance. The Packers are now missing Aaron Rodgers to a collarbone injury, so they will have to rely on Lacy even more, and judging off his last game of 22 carries, 150 yards and a touchdown, I would expect he’s up to the challenge.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Kiko Alonso, Linebacker, Buffalo Bills
Another award that’s not even close? Yep, “The Legend of Kiko Alonso” as he’s referred to by Bills fans, Kiko Alonso has come out of seemingly nowhere, and took the NFL by storm. Right now he’s at the top of the leader board in terms of tackles with 89, leads the NFL in interceptions with four, has forced a fumble and also recorded a sack for good measure. There have been some good performances by other rookies, including the three other defensive lineman I considered in Sheldon Richardson, Star Lotulelei and Chis Jones, but Alonso blows all of them out of the water with his performances. He’s even considered a defensive player of the year candidate, that’s how great he’s been this year. He’s helped transform this Bills defense into one of the most feared units in football, and is primed to continue this throughout the second half of the season.
Coach of the Year: Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs have jumped from the worst team in football last year, to the best this year, and undefeated through their first nine games. Part of this amazing resurrection will be credited toward guys like Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles and Justin Houston, but I think the real reason the Chiefs have become so good, so quickly, is because of new coach, Andy Reid. After a very successful tenure in Philadelphia, Reid came over to help the struggling Chiefs, and boy has he ever done that. Through nine games last year, they were a putrid 1-8, and now they’re 9-0. Not much else needs to be said, Reid is your obvious coach of the year, and should continue to run away with the award.
Biggest Surprise Player: Philip Rivers, Quarterback, San Diego Chargers
What a difference a terrible coach getting fired makes huh? Last year everyone was set on Philip Rivers being done as an NFL quarterback, and the Chargers were considered one of the very worst teams in football, and despite a coaching change to Mike McCoy, not many outside of the Chargers fan base thought we would see the old Philip Rivers. But he’s back, and better than ever. He right now has 17 touchdowns, to only seven interceptions, and is on pace for a 34-14 season, his best year since 2008, when he was considered one the few elite quarterbacks in football. Throw in a 72% completion percentage, and 109 quarterback rating, and I think to the rest of the NFL, he’s easily the surprise player of the year thus far.
Biggest Dud Player: Eli Manning, Quarterback, New York Giants
I don’t think anyone else comes even close to getting this award. Eli Manning has been one of the very worst players in football this year, and him and his team are paying for it. The other Manning leads the league in interceptions, and has his former Super Bowl winning team at just 2-6 on the year. Manning has only 10 touchdowns on the season, and 15 picks already, on pace to hit the very rare 30 interceptions in a single season. This is a former Super Bowl MVP, but look how far he’s fallen. Manning is a better player than this, and he will bounce back a bit, but right now he’s run away with this award. He tried to throw it away, but it got picked off by a defender and returned for a touchdown.
Biggest Surprise Team: Kansas City Chiefs
Not much else needs to be said about the way the Chiefs have been playing this year. They’re 9-0 after finishing last year at 2-14, which is among the biggest surprises in NFL history. Leading the AFC West, above even the vaunted Denver Broncos and their high octane offense. They do have a much tougher second half, including two against those very Broncos, but even if they managed only 3-4 more wins on the season, It think they’d still easily be the biggest surprise.
Biggest Dud Team: Atlanta Falcons
Sure the Giants are floundering at 2-6, and the Buccaneers and Jaguars are both still winless at 0-8 a piece, but I don’t think any of those three teams can match up to the Atlanta Falcons, and the egg they laid this season. Coming into the year, many considered this team to be a Super Bowl contender, after all they did get to the NFC Championship game last year. But a couple big injuries, and a very weak overall team, exposed them as the frauds they are. Julio Jones went down for the season, but he sure was worth those picks you gave up for him. You couldn’t have used them to patch up the major problems that you ignored like offensive line, defensive line, secondary, linebackers and the poor running back situation you’ve found yourself in.
Mid-Season Super Bowl Winner: Seattle Seahawks
I know, I know. The Seahawks almost lost to the Bucs, in Seattle this last week! I realize that they’ve have some really odd struggles here and there, but all teams go through crappy games like that, and I think it showed a lot about this team that they didn’t roll over and die, and managed to come back and win. The Broncos haven’t had to go through that, and neither have the Chiefs. The Seahawks still have a top notch defense, and still have a Pro-Bowl caliber quarterback and running back in Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch. I’m still sticking with the Seahawks to win this year’s Super Bowl.