With half the season in the books, it’s time to look around the league and hand our some mid-season awards. We can revisit at the end of the year to see how these held up. Plenty of football left to change some of these.
1. Coach of the Year - Dan Campbell
You want to make your case for Mike McDaniel or maybe even a John Harbaugh or Nick Sirianni, go right on ahead, but I think this is the year to give the caffeine-slugging Campbell his flowers. Yes, I took the knee-cap biting comments to mean that this was going to be another laughable moment in the Detroit Lions history. It’s not.
Campbell has the Lions playing really good football. Jared Goff is probably playing the best football of his career, which is saying something after spending time with Sean McVay and playing in a Super Bowl. Lions fans have bought in and come back to pack the stadium and conveniently, none of the other NFC North teams have their act together, paving the way for an easy division title. That means the Lions will host a playoff game and given their current record and remaining schedule, they could very well host two playoff games. I had said, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that anything short of a deep playoff run would be disappointing for this Lions team. Now, I believe that it can happen.
2. Comeback Player of the Year - Damar Hamlin
I mean, this one is easy. Hamlin has only been active for one game this season but that seems to hardly matter given what transpired last year. This last week’s game against the Bengals provided an interesting backdrop to reflect on what happened to him. Many football fans from all over the world were united in pulling for that young man to make a recovery. It’s nothing short of miraculous that he has been able to build himself back into a professional athlete.
3. Defensive Player of the Year - Myles Garrett
I think this is Garrett’s year. He’s been a First Team All Pro twice before but hasn’t been able to capture the crown just yet. The Browns are competitive, slugging it out in the AFC North with a 5-3 record on the strength of their defense. The best defensive player on one of the best defenses in the league is a good formula to win this award. He’s currently near the top of the league leaders in sacks and will have a chance to tee off against the Broncos, Bears, and Jets - 3 of the 7 worst teams in sacks allowed - before the end of the year.
4. Offensive Player of the Year - Tyreek Hill
This one will be a ton of fun down the stretch as Hill and AJ Brown could both push to break 2,000 yards receiving. If that happens and either Hill or Brown break the receiving yards record, that should be enough to take down this award despite Christian McCaffrey’s standout season in San Francisco. All three are interesting candidates but I will lean on a WR breaking a record for the award.
Even though I’m giving the slight edge to Hill for the mid-season award, I’d actually give Brown the better chance to win it in the second half as the Eagles finish with two games against the Giants and one against the Cardinals. Brown could finish with a flourish whereas Hill faces the Titans, Jets, Cowboys, Ravens, and Bills to close out the year.
5. Defensive Rookie of the Year - Jalen Carter
He’s ridiculously good. He’s in the perfect situation with a stellar defensive line on arguably the best team in the NFL. The Eagles will play in plenty of high profile games down the stretch to allow the most talented player in the 2023 NFL Draft continue to shine. Sometimes, a player lands in the perfect circumstance and thrives. Carter deserves the hardware and it would be a shock if he doesn’t run away with it in the second half.
6. Offensive Rookie of the Year - CJ Stroud
With all due resoect to Puka Nacua, this one is already over. Stroud’s comeback win against the Tampa Bay Bucs in Week 9 is the type of performance that gets marked down as a career highlight for most QBs, let alone rookies. As Stroud continues along his rookie campaign and gets more and more comfortable in the offense, don’t be surprise if he threatens some rookie QB records.
The floor was always highest for Stroud among the quarterbacks in this draft. It was a surprise when the narrative shifted from Stroud to Bryce Young for Carolina, but sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good if you’re the Texans. It’s reminiscent of rookie seasons from Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert where you watch a game and simply know he belongs. Impressive start to his career.
7. MVP - Jalen Hurts
As of this moment, I’d give the award to Hurts. He’s the quarterback of the team with the best record in the league. He has a cheat code that is challenging the league with the “tush push” (which I get that people hate but I do love a good rhyme) and he continues to improve each season. At some point, his candidacy makes too much sense to ignore.
A lot of people will rightfully push for Lamar Jackson if he and the Ravens can continue their excellent start to the season. Don’t be surprised that if stats and records are close that voters will find a way to push their vote to a Hurts or someone like Joe Burrow. That’s because if Jackson captures his second MVP, that’s essentially putting him in the Hall of Fame. I’m not sure voters are ready to do that yet.
8. Biggest Surprise Team - Houston Texans
At 4-4, the Texans are already surpassing the expectations of many. DeMeco Ryans deserves a little burn for Coach of the Year considerations for what he’s done with this Texans squad that no one gave a chance to do much this year. With a rookie QB, young roster, and the ashes of the previous regime still being swept away, anything above base level competence was going to be gravy for this team. Kind of amazing that rebuilds don’t need to take as long in some places as they seemingly do in others...
9. Biggest Disappointment - New York Giants
I think there are some real contenders for this slot, but the Giants fall from grace is rather remarkable. This is a team that played in the second round of the playoffs a year ago and is currently being predicted by some outlets as the most likely team to have the number one pick in the draft. Even if you predicted regression out of Big Blue, I don’t think anyone had them picking first overall in next year’s draft. That would be an amazing reversal of fortune, albeit with the golden ticket of the top pick to set up the Giants with an elite quarterback prospect and rather disappointing for a few fanbases that thought they had a clear path to #1 overall.
10. Best Commercial - Buffalo Wild Wings Hank the Buffalo
I don’t really watch live TV other than football so I only see commercials during football games. I also watch a lot of football games and the same advertisers tend to run their campaigns on all the networks so I end up seeing the same set of commercials over and over every year.
Now, I’m a sucker for a good mascot, so it’s no surprise I’m in on Hank, the Buffalo Wild Wings Buffalo voiced by Beck Bennett. You may remember Bennett from his SNL days and he does a great job voicing Hank. I’ve seen this one titled “Roughing” a hundred times already and I still find it funny. Well played, BWW. Well played.
What did I get right and more importantly, what did I get wrong? Who is taking home the hardware for you? Let me know in the comments below.