Midseason Offensive Rookie: QB Andy Dalton, Cincinnati. Yes, I do realize Cam Newton is more exciting, but Dalton has had a greater impact on his team. The Bengals were expected to be awful without Carson Palmer, yet are sitting pretty at 6-2 tied for the lead in the AFC North. For the record, Dalton has more TD passes (12 to Newton’s 11), less interceptions (7 to Newton’s 9) and a better completion percentage (61.5 to Newton’s 60.6).
Honorable Mention: QB Cam Newton, Carolina, and WR Julio Jones, Atlanta.
Midseason Defensive Rookie: CB Patrick Peterson, Arizona. Peterson has been solid in the defensive backfield for the struggling Cardinals. He leads all rookies with two picks and 10 passes defended and is third among rookies with 35 tackles. Also, he has returned three punts for touchdowns already, two of which were the deciding scores in the two victories the Cardinals have.
Honorable Mention: DE Ryan Kerrigan, Washington and LB Von Miller, Denver.
Midseason Coach: Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco. New coach + no QB + no OTA’s = disaster in the Bay area. At least that is what we thought. All Harbaugh has done this year is erase the bust stigma from Alex Smith, rejuvenate at storied franchise that had been awful for a decade and have the second best record in the NFL despite his team learning his system on the go. Very impressive.
Honorable Mention: Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati and Chan Gailey, Buffalo.
Midseason Disappointing Team: Philadelphia Eagles. Taking a page out of Redskins owner Dan Snyder’s playbook, the Eagles won the off-season with many big name free agent signings including one to dub the Eagles the “Dream Team.” Philly has been more of a nightmare and are barely looking like a .500 team, much less a Super Bowl contender. At this point, the once Super Bowl favorite won’t even make the playoffs.
Dishonorable Mention: Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers.
Midseason Surprise Team: San Francisco 49ers. See above on Jim Harbaugh. This team is not only legit, they could be a major player in the postseason.
Honorable Mention: Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills.
Midseason Disappointing Player: RB Chris Johnson, Tennessee. He should be arrested for stealing money from Bud Adams. After pouting all training camp, claiming he should get quarterback money which he eventually got, he has not at all lived up to the $55 million he is getting. Johnson currently sits 29th in the NFL in rushing with a pathetic 3.0 average per carry.
Dishonorable Mention: DE Albert Haynesworth, New England/Tampa Bay and WR Chad Ochocinco, New England.
Midseason Surprise Player: RB Fred Jackson, Buffalo. There were rumblings in the preseason he could lose his starting job to C.J. Spiller. Good thing they stuck with him. He is third in the league with 803 rushing yards, second among RBs in receiving yards and third overall in all-purpose yards.
Honorable Mention: TE Jimmy Graham, New Orleans and WR Steve Smith, Carolina.
Midseason Defensive MVP: DE Jared Allen, Minnesota. I don’t like giving an award to a guy on a crappy team, but Allen has just been ridiculous this year. He leads the NFL in sacks (12.5), forced fumbles (3), fumbles recovered (3) and leads all defensive linemen with four passes defended.
Honorable Mention: LB Patrick Willis, San Francisco and DB George Wilson, Buffalo.
Midseason Offensive MVP: QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay. If you need an explanation, you don’t watch football. But, just in case you do, Rodgers is leading the NFL in completion percentage (72.5), touchdowns (24), QB rating (129.1), and second in least interceptions (3). Oh, and the Packers are 8-0.
Honorable Mention: WR Wes Welker, New England and RB Matt Forte, Chicago.
PREDICATED AFC PLAYOFFS
2- New England
6- NY Jets
PREDICATED NFC PLAYOFFS
1- Green Bay
2- San Francisco
3- New Orleans
4- NY Giants
Baltimore 24, Oakland 21 (I’m sure I am crazy, but I’m doing it for Al!)
NFC CHAMPIONSHIP (same as preseason prediction)
Green Bay 35, New Orleans 31
SUPER BOWL XLVI (same as preseason prediction)
Green Bay 24, Baltimore 20