Most Valuable Player (Offense)
1. Peyton Manning, IND
Not a sexy pick, but no other player has set himself apart through 8 weeks, and the award is once again Peyton's to lose. He's having a modest season by his standards, but with 15 TDs and just 2 INTs, as well as being the least-sacked QB in the league, it's going to be tough for anybody to beat him. In case you're wondering - 3 straight MVPs has never been done before. This is history in the making.
2. Tom Brady, NE
It's a little cliche to put Brady 2nd, and I hate being cliche. But the Patriots have the league's best record and Brady is the biggest reason. Tom isn't having his typical light-it-up year, but he's been viciously efficient and been winning against some pretty good teams.
3. Chris Johnson, TEN
Vince Young is getting too much credit, because without Sonic the Hedgehog, Tennessee is probably 2-6 instead of 5-3. He's only third in rushing yards, but he's first in touchdowns. No other running back is as valuable to his team.
4. Phillip Rivers, SD
From a stats perspective, Rivers is the unquestioned MVP right now. He's throwing for 331 yards per game and is on pace to shatter the single-season record. He's a top 5 quarterback in every stat, and has a QB rating of 98.9.
In fact, Rivers's career passer rating is a 96.3, better than Manning, Brady or Brees. Or Montana, or Unitas, or Elway, or Marino, or ... any quarterback to ever play football in the NFL. Seriously. I'm not saying Rivers will keep up this torrid pace, but I am suggesting that his nickname should henceforth be 'The PR Machine.' Because his initials are P.R., because he plays like a machine, and because of the P.asser R.ating thing. It's too bad the Chargers are 3-5, otherwise we'd have our MVP right here.
5. Roddy White, ATL
White is the biggest reason why Atlanta is considered the best team in the NFC. Obviously he has no chance to win the MVP, but he deserves to be ranked ahead of the rest of the QBs and RBs, at least for now. He might be challenging Andre Johnson for 'best receiver alive' status.
6. Adrian Peterson, MIN
The Vikings are dreadful, but it's not Peterson's fault. They're 2-5, but without him they would be 0-7. He is still on pace to rush for 1,774 yards and seems to be handling all this obnoxious Favre-Moss drama remarkably well.
7. Matt Schaub, HOU
Inconsistency has plagued Schaub (three times his passer rating has exceeded 98, four times it's been less than 80), but he's effectively leading one of the league's best offenses and spreading the ball around.
8. Kyle Orton, DEN
He's simmered down a little bit after his psycho start to the season, but Captain Neckbeard is still on pace to throw for 5,024 yards and 24 TDs. Too bad Denver is 2-6, or I might have ranked him as high as 5th.
Quick question: who is leading the NFL in passing touchdowns right now? Give up? No it's not Manning or Rivers. It's actually the Cursed one himself, Drew Brees, who is also leading the NFL in interceptions, and pass attempts, and completion percentage. It's been sort of a bizarre season for Brees, but if the Saints revert to 2009 form and finish with 10 or 11 wins, he'll certainly be able to climb the list and put up a fight. He probably should have won the award last season and some voters may recognize that.
10. Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG
Similarly to Roddy White, Bradshaw is leading his team to a prominent spot in the NFC in spite of mediocre quarterback play. He's averaging more than 100 yards per game and 5.3 yards per carry, with a league-leading ten carries of 20 yards or more. And he was drafted in the seventh freaking round in my fantasy league. I brilliantly took Justin Forsett ahead of him.
Antonio Gates, SD - Leads the NFL in receiving TDs, third in yards. And he's a tight end with a broken foot.
LaDanian Tomlinson, NYJ - Went from washed-up backup to being on pace for almost 1,300 yards.
Steven Jackson, STL - Doing his same old thing - on pace for 1,600 total yards - and the Rams are amazingly 4-4.
Most Valuable Player (Defense)
1. Clay Matthews, GB
He's been simply the most dominant defensive player in the NFL since week 1, despite battling a strained hamstring. He's got a league-leading 9.5 sacks and might finish with more than 20. The teams remaining on the Pack schedule include Dallas, Detroit, San Fran, and Chicago - four of the most sackable teams in the NFL.
2. DeAngelo Hall, WAS
He certainly doesn't deserve the Defensive MVP, but Woodson didn't deserve it last year. It often comes down to turnovers. And Hall leads the NFL with 6 INTs and he also scored on a fumble recovery. Big plays are all that matters, otherwise Revis would be the reigning D-MVP and Asomugha the year before that.
3. Aqib Talib, TB
Tampa is 5-2, and Talib's sudden status as a lockdown corner, cemented by his 5 interceptions and 5 passes broken up, is one of the biggest reasons why. He's a future stud. Actually he's already a stud. And I seem to remember hoping the Lions would draft him at #18 in the 2008 draft when they took Gosder Cherilus instead. (Talib went 20th).
4. Osi Umenyiora, NYG
Also on the ballot for 'Comeback Player of the Year,' Osi has been unblockable and has 8 sacks and a league-leading 7 forced fumbles. No other player has more than 4.
5A. Troy Polamalu, PIT
5B. Lawrence Timmons, PIT
5C. James Harrison, PIT
A tribute to how dominant the Steelers' defense has been this season. Timmons is 5th in the NFL in tackles and has 3 sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. Harrison has 6 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception. And Polamalu is simply the most feared and most talented defensive player alive. None of these players will win the D-MVP award for the same reason that no one on the Heat will win NBA MVP. Addition by subtraction. Err.. something like that.
8. Antonio Cromartie, NYJ
Incredibly, Cromartie has been the Jets' best cover corner this season. He's been asked to cover #1 WRs a lot with Revis hurting, limping, whining, and doing all that crap. And Cromartie has done a great job. I'm sick of Revis.
9. LaRon Landry, WAS
He's third in the NFL in tackles, and he plays safety. That's incredible. He's got a sack, an INT, a forced fumble, and he's doing a pretty good impression of Troy Polamalu without the hair.
10. Tamba Hali, KC
Just like Tampa Bay, the Chiefs are 5-2 and somebody deserves the credit. It sure doesn't belong to the offense, who mustered just 13 points against Buffalo. How about Hali, who has been unblockable and has racked up 7 sacks? He's starting to earn double teams and still has 3 sacks in his past 2 games.
Shaun Phillips, SD - He's got 7 sacks, 24 tackles, and he scored on an INT return. He's the best OLB in San Diego named Shaun. Weird huh?
DeMarcus Ware, DAL - Ho hum, just another 15 sack season coming up. He's got 8 so far. Too bad Dallas is horrible.
Ndamukong Suh, DET - Yeah he deserves honorable mention. I'll explain why in just a moment.
Rookie of the Year (Offense)
1. Sam Bradford, STL
With the Rams at 4-4, Bradford might be running away with this award. Especially since there is no clear runner-up. He's 11th in the NFL in passing yards, ahead of such folks as Romo, Brady, Flacco, Favre and Cutler. He's got 11 TDs and 7 INTs. And he has absolutely no receivers to work with whatsoever. He is so much freaking better than Matt Stafford that it makes me want to eat a baby porcupine.
2. Jahvid Best, DET
After 2 games, Best had ROY in the bag - 250 total yards and 5 TDs. In the 5 games since, he's combined for about 350 total yards and a whopping zero TDs. I'm fully confident that Best has great skills and will be the 'best' (ahem) Lions running back since Barry. But I don't think his ROY chances are very likely anymore. He's barely holding on to the #2 spot.
3. Mike Williams, TB
The 4th round pick from Syracuse is the real deal. 470 yards, 4 TDs, and about 5 catches per game. Where the heck did he come from? Did people just assume he was no good because of his name? By the way, he's got more fantasy points than Ochocinco, Welker, Moss, or any WR on the Steelers. All COMBINED. Just kidding.
4. Dez Bryant, DAL
30 catches, 350 yards, 3 TDs, and he's run 2 kicks back for touchdowns. But he still refuses to carry anyone's shoulder pads.
5. Ryan Matthews, SD
A bust from a fantasy perspective, yes, but he's been better than people realize. His YPC (4.4) isn't awful, and he's run for 340 yards and 2 TDs. But he's not getting the third down snaps or the goal line carries. So why did the Chargers trade way up to #12 to draft him?
Aaron Hernandez, NE - Barely edges out Tony Moeaki for "Random Tight End To Come Out Of No Where And Score 38 Fantasy Points."
Dexter McCluster, KC - The RB/WR hybrid has 147 receiving yards, 60 rushing yards, 146 return yards, and 2 total TDs.
LeGarettee Blount, TB - He'll fly right up this list as the season progresses. He's only been the featured back in 2 games, but he's already got 222 yards and 3 TDs. If Tampa had made Blount the starting RB back in August, he'd be in close contention with Bradford for ROY.
Rookie of the Year (Defense)
1. Ndamukong Suh, DET
Currently occupying first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth place for Defensive Rookie of the Year. It would take a miracle (or a catastrophic injury) for him not to win it. He has 6.5 sacks - twice as many as any other rookie - and did I mention, he's a defensive tackle? He is also one of only 5 DTs to record an interception this season, and hilariously, he leads ALL defensive tackles, rookie or veteran, in fantasy points. What else can you say, besides: SSUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
7. Eric Berry, KC
In a distant, remote, indistinct 7th place, we have Eric Berry. He's doing a good job. But not as good as SUUUUUUUUUUUUHHHHHHHHH!!!!
8. Rolando McClain, DEN
9. Earl Thomas, SEA
10. Nate Allen, PHI
Devin McCourtey, NE - You wish.
Koa Misi, MIA - You were.
T.J. Ward, CLE - SUUUUHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Man that was fun. Now on to the morose part of the Midseason Awards.
Least Valuable Player (Offense)
1. Alex Smith, SF
There's a good deal of competition for this award, but I've got to lean towards Alex Smith. His less-than-mediocre play has dragged the 49ers (who I pegged for 9-7 and many others pegged for 11+ wins) to a wretched 2-6 season. His QB rating is a measly 75, his completion percentage is below 60%, and his own fans would rather see David Carr. No excuses. He's got an elite RB, an elite TE and a decent WR crew. Just a bust that keeps on busting.
2. Brett Favre, MIN
What else can I say that I haven't said. Pathetic, terrible, embarassing, just retire already! You bum. Stop worrying about the streak and your stats, it's clear that you're motives are entirely selfish and on top of all that, the world discovered that you take pictures of your penis and send them to pretty girls. Eww. Get out of the NFL you old creep and let the kids play.
3. Jonathan Stewart, CAR
His league worst 2.8 YPC speaks for itself. I'm really, really glad I drafted him in the third round of my fantasy league.
4. Jay Cutler, CHI
You can look at the 7 ugly INTs or the measly 61.3% completion percentage, but the number that lands Cutler on this list is 27. As in, he's been sacked 27 times this season - five more than any other quarterback. And he's not even in the top 20 in passing attempts!
5. Donovan McNabb, WAS
Donovan is quietly having his worst season since his rookie year. His passer rating of 76.0 is 25th in the league, and he's got more INTs than TDs, something he's never done before. And worst of all, according to Mike Shanahan, he can't run the 2 minute drill as well as Rex Grossman. I'm still in morbid shock over that decision. I still can't talk about it. SO weird.
6. Marion Barber, DAL
Someone from Dallas needs to be on this list, and Barber barely beats out the also deserving Romo, Jones, and Austin. His YPC is just a shade better than Stewart's at 3.0, and he's been futile on the goal line.
7. Carson Palmer, CIN
The Secretly Terrible Carson Palmer is quickly becoming just the Terrible Carson Palmer. In other words, the secret's out. He stinks. And the 2-5 Bengals better start thinking about the future before their duo of nutcase receivers dress up like the Burger King King and kidnap Palmer's kids and then blow up the stadium.
8. Derek Anderson, ARZ
Everyone expected him to be bad, and he's been bad. But that doesn't mean he doesn't belong on this list. In his last 15 starts (this season and last season), he has 7 TDs and 17 INTs and about 124 yards per game. How is this guy still playing in the NFL???
9. Reggie Bush, NO
He has 18 rushing yards this season and more touchdowns (1) than Heisman Trophies. I don't care if he's been hurt, he's still one of the 10 Least Valuable Players.
10. Jimmy Claussen, CAR
Not that anybody expected much from him, but it should still be mentioned that his 6 fumbles lead the NFL and his 52.2 QB rating is the league's worst. Now I understand why the Bills chose not to draft him #7 overall.
Least Valuable Player (Defense)
Hmm... not really sure, so I'll give this award to the entire Dallas Cowboys defensive unit. That seems fair.
Coach of the Year
1. Bill Belichick, NE
Nobody stands out, so why not give it to the guy with the best record.
2. Mike Smith, ATL
A likely leading candidate, but I'd like to see more consistency and less luck from the Falcons.
3. Mike Tomlin, PIT
He handles controversy and drama as smoothly as any coach, and is a master of motivation.
4. John Harbaugh, BAL
Considering all the injuries in the secondary and the brutal schedule, it's impressive that Baltimore is 5-2.
5. Raheem Morris, TB
Even though he has the single dumbest quote of the season (calling Tampa the "best team in the NFC"), he's doing a great job with very little talent.
*You'll notice Chiefs' coach Todd Haley is absent from this list, despite the club's unlikely 5-2 record. The reasons is simple: KC has run the ball more with Thomas Jones (118 carries) than Jamaal Charles (103 carries). Charles YPC is a league-best 6.5; Jones's is only 4.6. Charles is an elite talent; Jones is a mediocre veteran. It's insane. Charles should be getting 20 carries a game, and if he were, he'd be on pace for 2,500 rushing yards.
Hottest Coaching Seat
1. Wade Phillips, DAL
This one's too easy. Could he possibly be doing a worse job? Why hasn't he been fired yet? What is Jerry Jones waiting for? The only thing left to do is give Phillips an adequate moniker to remember him once he's gone. The Sultan of Setback? The Governor of Gaffe? Lord of the Letdown? How about the Duke of Disappointment?
2. Mike Singletary, SF
Weirdly, I loved Mike Singletary before this season. So did 99% of people I heard talking about him. Maybe that's the problem. Everyone was so convinced he was an amazing coach, but no one bothered to check the facts. Turns out he can't evaluate talent and he has a knack for alienating his players.
3. Brad Childress, MIN
The way he lets Favre govern the team's offense and their decision-making is pathetic. He might be the most spineless coach in the NFL. And his love-affair with Favre will cost him his job this offseason.
4. Marvin Lewis, CIN / Jack Del Rio, JAC
Too much mediocrity for too long, and both of these teams are desperate for an overhaul.
5. John Fox, CAR
A 1-6 record will get just about anybody fired. He's gone after this season unless the Panthers win 7 of their next 9 games.
Randy Moss Extravaganza! The 10 most likely destinations for Moss:
1. Kansas City Chiefs.
Because Moss played with Matt Cassel in 2008, because KC's general manager used to be with the Pats, and because KC needs a deep threat desperately as they try to make a playoff push.
2. New England Patriots.
Because that's where Moss wants to go, because they know how to use him, and because Belichick is a jackass.
3. New Orleans Saints.
Because Brees needs an elite receiver, because Moss wants to win a ring, and because they could handle his craziness.
4. Cincinnati Bengals.
Because how awesome would it be? TO, Ocho and Moss together? Carson Palmer would immediately drown himself in his jacuzzi, right?
5. San Francisco 49ers.
Because they need to shake things up, because it would be Moss-like to play in the city where Jerry Rice played, and because Michael Crabtree needs a crazy diva mentor.
6. Chicago Bears.
Because Mike Martz can't resist throwing deep, because Cutler would have one more receiver to yell at, and because they don't have a receiver taller than 5'6".
7. San Diego Chargers.
Because of all the injuries, because of V-Jack's holdout, and because they need to make the playoffs this season to keep Norv's job.
8. Cleveland Browns.
Because they have zero good receivers, because they can run the ball and would love a play-action threat, and because LeBron left a gaping hole which Moss could fill.
9. New York Jets.
Because they love to assemble old superstars, because Rex Ryan is an attention hog, and because they want to stop the Patriots from getting him.
10. Detroit Lions.
Because how awesome would it be?