Week 8 of the 2018 NFL season is almost over, with just the Patriots and Bills left to play on Monday Night Football. While there are a lot of teams hovering around .500, the teams in the playoff race is fairly clear. In addition, while there is certainly a long way to go in the season, we have an idea of which players will be in the conversation for end of the season awards. Here are the midseason awards picks for the major NFL awards and the top competitors for each:
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Saquon Barkley
Saquon Barkley has been the brightest of a few bright spots on the New York Giants. He’s showing the league why he was considered arguably the best prospect in the 2018 NFL Draft and why the Giants took him over any of the possible quarterbacks. Saquon has been producing nearly equally through the running game, with 481 rushing yards, and the receiving game, with 424 receiving yards. Barkley has a chance to be the face of Giants football for the next decade.
Competition: Calvin Ridley
Offensive Player of the Year: Todd Gurley
Todd Gurley started off where he left off last season, when he won Offensive Player of the Year. Then, he took it to another level. At the halfway point, Gurley is currently on pace for 2,300 yards from scrimmage and 30 total touchdowns. That is unheard of for a running back in today’s NFL. If he can break LaDainian Tomlinson’s record of 31 touchdowns in a season, he has a good shot to make a run at MVP.
Competition: Adam Thielen, Kareem Hunt
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Darius Leonard
Leonard, a second-round pick for the Indianapolis Colts, has been flying around the field. He is always around the ball and already has 88 total tackles, 7 for loss, to go along with four sacks and three forced fumbles. Darius Leonard has been reliable all season for the Colts and Sunday against the Raiders, came up big with a forced fumble in crunch time.
Competition: Derwin James, Denzel Ward
Defensive Player of the Year: JJ Watt
After suffering back to back season ending injuries, one of the best defenders in NFL history finally looks back at his usual level. Watt started off slow in the first couple of games, but is dominating defenses now. He is tied for the league lead in sacks with eight on the year and also has 10 tackles for loss. Throw in 13 QB hits and four forced fumbles and Watt is well on his way to winning a record fourth Defensive Player of the Year. After raising millions for his community, Watt was going to be a Houston Texan for life. But now, he is once again showing greatness on the field.
Competition: Khalil Mack, Aaron Donald
Coach of the Year: Andy Reid
While Mahomes deservedly receives much of the credit for the Chiefs’ success, Andy Reid also plays a huge role. Reid was the one to pull the plug and trade Alex Smith trade, allowing Mahomes to start. Further, Reid has consistently run schemes that put Kansas City’s offensive skill players in position to make plays. With an array of weapons at his disposal, Reid is showing why he is still one of the best offensive minds in the National Football League.
Competition: Sean McVay, Anthony Lynn
Most Valuable Player: Patrick Mahomes
When the Chiefs traded Alex Smith, the Chiefs expected Mahomes to play well in his first full season as a starter. They could not have expected him to play this well. Mahomes currently has 26 touchdowns halfway through the season; last year, that would have been top 10 over the full season. What’s even crazier is that Mahomes only has six interceptions. That is an incredible ratio for any quarterback, much less a first-year starter. At this point, even though he has a lot of help, Mahomes has to be the NFL’s frontrunner for MVP.
Competition: Drew Brees, Todd Gurley
Featured image by USA Today
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