NFL First Half Pulse Check
First half awards
Aside from a few teams that have played 9 games and are on Bye next week, we are staring at the halfway point in our 2009 NFL season. So far, most of the season as gone as expected (or feared). Below are our mid-season awards and current standings against our projections. At the end was my playoff breakdown projection. Though the Eagles have taken a step back recently, it is not far-fetched to still expect an all-PA Super Bowl.
Most Valuable Player: Peyton Manning
Runner-up: Drew Brees
Longshot: Cedric Benson
Comment: In the NFL, the QB always gets the most credit and the most criticism, so you have to give the credit to the QBs of the league's only undefeated teams. One cannot take away from what Brett Favre has done, but I still have to side with Manning and Brees first. Cedric Benson is not getting near enough credit for helping Cincy to its place atop its division.
Least Valuable Player: Clinton Portis
Runner-up: LaDainian Tomlinson
Longshot: Terrell Owens
Comment: Many are vying for this award, but it has to go to Portis over LT. Rumors of LT's demise have swirled for years. He teased us with 11 TDs last year, but Portis had almost 1500 yards and 9 TDs on the ground last year. One might have expected a drop-off of 20-25%, but he is not even on a pace for 1000 yards this year, has only one TD and is now injured. With T.O., there was the temptation to buy into the first-year success story that he has had at all of his other stops. With 280 yards and 1 receiving TD, he is about as valuable as teammate James Hardy.
Best team: New Orleans Saints
Runner-up: Indianapolis Colts
Longshot: Minnesota Vikings
Comment: The Saints defense has really stepped it up this year and is making lots of big plays and is following the offense's lead and getting into the end zone often. With the multitude of running backs and receivers, the Saints are actually more difficult to defense than any other team. The Colts are just a step behind due to injuries and I am not completely sold on Brett Favre's magic lasting throughout the second half.
Worst team: Cleveland Browns
Runner-up: St. Louis Rams
Longshot: Washington Redskins
Comment: This is the easiest category of all. The Browns average less than 10 points per game and give up 26 points per game. Though the Rams' numbers aren't any better, they have Steven Jackson, so they actually have a player that other teams would want. The 'Skins may prove to be worse than both of these teams since they are the one team that all crappy teams look forward to playing.
Most Surprising Team: Denver Broncos
Runner-up: Tennessee Titans
Longshot: Washington Redskins
Comment: While the Broncos has found Earth after facing two of the league's best defenses, they have already matched their expected win total for the year and have completed turned around their defense. Completely amazing considering they were in shambles in late August. The Titans are the complete opposite. Two weeks ago, they were a laughing stock. With Vince Young at the helm and some key defensive players back from injury, they are moving in the right direction, but 2-6 is hugely disappointing for a team with the league's best regular-season record last year. While no one expected the Redskins to contend for the NFC east title, they seem to always hang around .500 and to be competitive in their division games. For as much cash as they have shelled out for players, they should be much better.