We’ve reached the midway point of the season, NFL fans!
You know what that means? Weekly looks at the standings and games left on the schedule, including which tiebreakers now matter. The big picture now stands out in a big way.
That includes projecting end-of-season awards. Who should be the 2020 NFL MVP? What about Coach of the Year? Which outstanding rookie deserves top billing in a loaded draft class?
Here is how I’d vote for each of the major awards right now.
Sign up for Eagles Extra: Get exclusive news, behind-the-scenes observations and the ability to text directly with reporters
MVP: Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
It’s Wilson’s year. We’re watching an all-time great at the height of his power. Wilson is on pace for close to 60 touchdown passes, owns a passer rating over 120 and is carrying a team with a very suspect defense. Wilson is the single biggest reason his team has a real chance to play deep into January, and could drag a suspect overall roster to a Lombardi Trophy. Wilson has famously never received a single NFL MVP vote. That will change this year as the right-handed version of Steve Young gets the recognition he deserves.
Other notable candidates: Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Ryan Tannehill, Kyler Murray
Offensive Player of the Year: Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
It feels silly just to list Kamara at one position. The do-it-all Saints running back is on pace for close to 1,000 yards rushing, well over 1,000 yards receiving and close to 130 receptions. Kamara is the most dynamic weapon in the NFL right now, and picking up all the slack left by wide receiver absences in New Orleans. It’s foolhardy to expect this kind of production on a yearly basis, but 2020 is Kamara’s year. He can’t be stopped, and is masking the decline of Drew Brees.
Other notable candidates: Mahomes, Rodgers, Murray, Wilson, Dalvin Cook
Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
It’s Aaron Donald’s world, we’re just living in it. Donald is the most disruptive force in the sport, capable of wrecking opponents’ game plans by himself. There’s never been a combination of speed and power like this on the interior of a defensive line before. Twenty sacks isn’t out of the question. It feels like we’re becoming numb to the down-to-down excellence of the Rams star. We shouldn’t be. He’s that special to watch.
Other notable candidates: Myles Garrett, T.J. Watt, Jaire Alexander, Fred Warner
Rookie of the Year: Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
What a rookie class! Burrow’s ability to stand tall and make the Bengals competitive in his first season out of LSU breaks a tie with Herbert. The Bengals found their guy, and the AFC North is going to have to deal with him for a long time.
Other notable candidates: Justin Herbert, CeeDee Lamb, Justin Jefferson, Patrick Queen, Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Comeback Player of the Year: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
Is there anywhere else we need to look than to the leader of an undefeated Steelers team? Roethlisberger, lost early in the 2019 season due to an elbow injury, has become a different quarterback in his old age. Gone are the long drop backs. Say no more to shrugging off defenders, moving better than anyone thought he could and launching passes downfield. Now? It’s about quick passes, cerebral reading of defenses and playing point guard with a great group of weapons.
Other notable candidates: Aldon Smith, Rob Gronkowski, Cam Newton
Coach of the Year: Mike Tomlin, Steelers
The Steelers are the best team in pro football right now, and their coach deserves a ton of credit. But it’s not just an award for right now; it’s also for the culture set up during last season’s out-of-nowhere playoff run despite playing with second and third-string quarterbacks. Tomlin has the Steelers believing they are great.
Other notable candidates: Matt Rhule, Kevin Stefanski, Kyle Shanahan
Executive of the Year: Chris Ballard, Colts
Excellent drafting. Trading for DeForest Buckner. Finding productive players off the scrap heap. Ballard has the Colts headed back to the postseason less than two years after the shocking and franchise-shifting retirement of Andrew Luck.
Other notable candidates: Jason Licht, Brandon Beane, John Schneider
Get Eagles text messages: Cut through the clutter of social media and text directly with beat writer Mike Kaye. Plus, exclusive news and analysis. Sign up now for a free trial.
Please subscribe now and support the local journalism YOU rely on and trust.
Joe Giglio may be reached at [email protected].