Buffalo Bills

Nate’s Notebook: Midseason Awards and Predictions

It’s hard to believe the NFL season is already halfway over. Time flies when you’re watching football. It also helps when your team is sitting at 6-2 and in prime contention for the playoffs!

It’s time for me to hand out my midseason awards and make a few predictions on how the rest of this NFL season will play out. Without further ado…

NFL MVP

The Candidates: Russell Wilson, Christian McCaffrey, Aaron Rodgers, Lamar Jackson

And the winner is…Russell Wilson. What Wilson has done this season is amazing. 22 TD passes and only one interception. He also leads the NFL in passer rating at 118.2 and Total QBR at 78.6. His passer rating is five points higher than Patrick Mahomes’ rating from last season when he set the league on fire. 

What makes Russell Wilson’s season even more impressive is the weapons he’s working with. This isn’t a knock on Tyler Lockett (who’s been great) or D.K. Metcalf (who’s been better than expected), but these aren’t exactly All-Pro level receivers either. In fact, coming into the season, we were all wondering who exactly was Wilson going to throw to now that Doug Baldwin was gone. Christian McCaffrey has been great and is on track for one of the better seasons we’ve ever seen from a running back, but the MVP is a quarterback’s award. I think that trend continues, especially if Seattle continues to have success and makes the playoffs.

Offensive Rookie of the Year

The Candidates: Kyler Murray, Josh Jacobs, Daniel Jones, Gardner Minshew

And the winner is…Josh Jacobs. Jacob’s path to NFL success is remarkable. He was the rare 3-star recruit that went to Alabama. In his breakout season for the Crimson Tide in 2018, he was still the third-string running back. He ran for a total of 1,491 yards in his three college seasons. For comparison, Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, likely the first RB that will be taken in next year’s draft, has rushed for over 5,100 yards in a little over 2 ½ seasons in college. It was fair to wonder if Jacobs was deserving of a first-round draft pick. He definitely was.

Jacobs is currently 4th in the NFL in rushing and is on pace for just under 1,500 yards this season. He’s been the Raiders’ best offensive player and is the biggest reason they sit at 5-4 and still firmly in the AFC playoff picture. Kyler Murray has a legitimate chance to win ROY honors, but the Cardinals aren’t a good team, and Murray isn’t elite at his position yet while Jacobs is. Gardner Minshew had an interesting case, but with reports of Nick Foles being ready to reclaim the starting job, it appears Minshew will be holding a clipboard for the remainder of the season. Daniel Jones has played admirably and has surpassed most reasonable expectations, but he’s still a turnover machine, and the Giants are one of the worst teams in the league. This is Jacobs’ award to lose.

Defensive Rookie of the Year

The Candidates: Nick Bosa, Devin Bush

And the winner is…Nick Bosa. This is an easy one. It’s Bosa and it’s not even close. I added Devin Bush to have another candidate, but it would take a minor miracle at this point to keep Bosa from winning this award. He’s one of the best players on the best defense in the NFL. He’s a terror off the edge. He’s a plus run defender and pass rusher. He’s destined to become a superstar in this league if he isn’t already.

Coach of the Year

The Candidates: Sean McDermott, Kyle Shanahan, Frank Reich, Sean Payton

And the winner is…Frank Reich. This is a tough one and is far from decided at this point. But at the midway point of the season, it’s hard to argue with what Reich has done with a Colts team that was put in a really difficult position to start the season. The news of Andrew Luck retiring sent shockwaves through the NFL and put a major dent into the Super Bowl aspirations the Colts had. Instead, the keys were handed over to career backup Jacoby Brissett. 

No one would have faulted Reich and the Colts if they struggled in 2019. But they’ve persevered through the preseason adversity and sit at 5-3 halfway through the season. If we’re being honest, the Colts should be 7-1 except for the kicking woes of Adam Vinatieri. He missed the game-winner vs. Pittsburgh and two more in an OT loss to the Chargers. 

If the Niners continue to dominate and win the NFC West, Shanahan is going to be hard to beat. That division produced two playoff teams last year (Seattle, Rams) and just making the playoffs would be a major accomplishment for Shanahan and San Francisco. Earning a top 2 seed and a first-round bye seemed almost unimaginable in August. 

Considering the circumstances, I give it to Reich by the slightest of margins.

2nd Half Predictions

  1. Christian McCaffrey breaks Chris Johnson’s record for total yards from scrimmage. In 2009, Johnson broke Marshall Faulk’s record as he produced 2,509 yards. McCaffrey is on pace for 2,488 yards through eight games, but with the Panthers firmly in the playoff race in the NFC, I think Carolina will lean harder than ever on their superstar back. If he stays healthy, he’s going to be close to the record. I think he gets it, barely.
  2. The Buffalo Bills return to the playoffs…and win a game! Come on, this is the only prediction you all really care about anyway. At 6-2, the Bills are currently the five seed in the AFC and the top wild card. They’re not out of the AFC East race either. I see the Bills making the playoffs as a wild card and matching up with the Texans or Chiefs. Either of those teams are a decent matchup for the Bills. 
  3. The Bengals go 0-16. I really thought there would be an 0-16 team this season, but I always figured it would be the Dolphins. But Miami has improved each week and has been competitive for the last month or so. It finally paid off with a win over the free-falling Jets. The Bengals have benched Andy Dalton, they can’t run the ball, and they can’t stop anyone. The schedule has two reasonably winnable games left, at Miami and vs. the Jets. Drop both of those, and 0-16 is happening.
  4. The Ravens and Saints play in the Super Bowl. These look like the most complete teams in their respective conferences. After getting robbed in the NFC title game last year, it seems like justice for the Saints to get there this year. With Brees back and healthy and a strong defense, the Saints will be a hard team to beat. In the AFC, watching the Ravens dismantle the Patriots was eye-opening. Lamar Jackson might the most dynamic QB the league has seen since Michael Vick, and this year he does something Vick never did…go to the Super Bowl. 
  5. The Saints are Champions Once Again. Drew Brees will add a 2nd ring and further cement himself as one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. For the second consecutive season, a starting quarterback over 40 wins the Super Bowl. 

Enjoy the second half, everyone!

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