NFL's Mid-Season Award Projections
With eight weeks of NFL action in the book we've reached the midway point of the season and can begin looking back and accurately grading teams and players. This means we have a clearer picture of the end of the season awards, which is the reason five major award winners have been predicted below.
MVP- DeMarco Murray, RB Dallas Cowboys: The MVP is usually won by a quarterback, but this season could be different if Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray continues on his current pace and breaks Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record. He's already at 1,054 yards through eight games, nearly 300 more than the next closest back. Murray's seven rushing touchdowns help his cause as well, as does the Cowboys' current 6-2 record and top-ranked rushing attack.
Coach of the Year- Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals: The Arizona Cardinals play in arguably the best division in football, the NFC West, yet they're 6-1 to date and have done so while missing key defensive players. Carson Palmer also missed time at the beginning of the season yet the Cardinals were still able to go 2-1 during that time with their only loss coming at the hands of the Denver Broncos. There's still plenty of games left to play, but if the Cardinals keep winning and make the playoffs Bruce Arians should be the frontrunner for Coach of the Year.
Most Improved Player- Everson Griffen, DE Minnesota Vikings: While DeMarco Murray can make a case for this award if he stays healthy, Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen has seemingly came from nowhere to already set career highs in tackles and sacks. Griffen has taken over for the departed Jared Allen as the team's right defensive end, and the fifth-year player is exceeding expectations with eight sacks through eight games, ranking him third in the NFL. Griffen is one of the more physically gifted defensive ends in the game and is simply at the beginning of a long and productive career.
Offensive Rookie of the Year- Kelvin Benjamin: No offensive rookie has been as important to his team as Kelvin Benjamin has to the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers let nearly all their receivers walk this past off-season, which opened the door for the rookie Benjamin to step in and be a starter right away. So far he's racked up 571 receiving yards, 14 th among all receivers and first among all rookies. Benjamin also has five touchdown grabs, with most coming from fade routes where he high-pointed the ball over the defender. Benjamin is another physically gifted athlete on this list, and is someone who appears to be on his way to stardom with a solid chance of winning Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Defensive Rookie of the Year- Anthony Barr, OLB Minnesota Vikings: The Defensive Rookie of the Year race is really between two outside linebackers at the moment. Fifth overall pick Khalil Mack is possibly the Oakland Raiders' best defensive player already, but Anthony Barr is a stat stuffing machine who last weekend stripped the ball in overtime and then picked up said fumble and returned it for a game-winning 27-yard touchdown run. This is hardly the first game-changing play Barr has made this season, and his three sacks and 54 tackles to date make him one of the early favorites for Defensive Rookie of the Year.