NFL mid-season MVP picks and more

Jem Nash Roar Rookie

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    Tom Brady is and the Patriots are on target for a historic 19-0 season. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

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    We’re nine weeks into what is one of the most wide open races to the Superbowl in recent history.

    Injuries have been aplenty but here’s who has stood up and should be winning the major awards at the end of the season.

    MVP: Tom Brady, New England Patriots
    It’s a boring pick, but no one is more valuable to their team than Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Brady is ageless, putting up great numbers and leading the Patriots to a couple of comeback wins, all at age 40.

    The defence was awful over the first month of football, and he has been without his favourite target in Julian Edelman, but Brady has remained at the top of his game to lead New England to a 6-2 record. Through eight games, Brady has thrown for 2,541 yards at 66.7 per cent for 16 touchdowns against two interceptions.

    New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady

    (Jeffrey Beall / CC BY-SA 3.0)

    Offensive Player of the Year: Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
    The Steelers have asked a lot of Bell in 2017 and he has delivered. When you’re not a quarterback but you account for the majority of your team’s touches, you’re doing all the right things.

    In eight games, Bell has 194 rushing attempts (approximately 24 per game) for 760 yards, good enough for second in the league. He’s also second on the team in receptions, trailing only Antonio Brown with 35 for 219 yards. Bell has put the Steelers offence on his back, and is one of the major reasons they sit atop the AFC.

    Defensive Player of the Year: Calais Campbell, Jacksonville Jaguars
    Easily the best free agent signing in 2017. Calais Campbell has helped turn the Jaguars defence into one of the best in the league, and despite it being his first year with this team, he is the leader. Just look at these stats: 11 sacks, two forced fumbles, and 34 tackles (six for loss).

    This Jaguars team currently is tied for the AFC South lead and has a real chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007, and Campbell is a major reason why.

    Offensive Rookie of the Year: Kareem Hunt
    Deshaun Watson was a shoo-in for this award before he went down to a season ending ACL injury in training last week. In steps Kareem Hunt who, while quieter the last few weeks, has still been one of the steals of the draft.

    Hunt burst onto the scene, and currently leads the league in rushing with 800 yards at an impressive 5.2 yards per carry and four touchdowns. Added to that is another 331 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Kareem Hunt has been a big part of Alex Smith’s career year and will be a strong focal point of the Chiefs offence down the stretch.

    Defensive Rookie of the Year: Tre’Davious White
    This is probably the toughest award to pick. T.J. Watt has been impressive in a strong Steelers defence. Marshon Lattimore has been a big part of turning the Saints defence around. But I like Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White to take it out. White is already making a name for himself as a shutdown corner in the NFL.

    A week after Amari Cooper put up 210 yards and two touchdowns, he returned for just 48 yards on five receptions against White. So far this season, White has allowed just 48.9 per cent of passes against him to be completed, to go with 12 pass breakups, 26 tackles and an interception.

    Comeback Player of the Year: Todd Gurley
    Gurley already has 686 yards at an average of 4.3 per carry this season, after rushing for a total of 885 yards through all of 2016, as well as ten total touchdowns (seven rushing, three receiving) compared to six total a year ago.

    New Head Coach Sean McVay has helped turn Gurley’s second year slump around and has turned him into a major weapon for this team. What is notable about Gurley’s performance this season, is that he only has a longest run of 36 yards, meaning his stats aren’t padded by the occasional large gain.

    Gurley is a large part of what the Rams have achieved so far in 2017, and will continue to be relied upon as the season continues.

    Coach of the Year: Sean McVay
    This is a no-brainer. The Rams are an entirely different team than the one we watched just one year ago. They already have more wins (six) than they did all last season (four) and McVay has also had a significant impact on their offence, averaging 33 points per game compared to just 14 in 2016.

    The youngest head coach ever has also drastically improved the play of second-year quarterback Jared Goff and star running back Todd Gurley. Sean McVay has completely changed this team, the Rams are firing in all three phases. For the first time in a long time there is a belief among the playing group that they can go all the way, and it’s showing.

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