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It sounds like most efficient yesterday that the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers had been kicking off the 2021 NFL season. Nonetheless as we budge via Week 9, the fashioned season is accurate about halfway over.
Some issues absorb long gone as anticipated. We thought the Buccaneers would be ethical, and they also’re. We thought the Jacksonville Jaguars would be nasty, and they also’re.
There were surprises, nonetheless. The 6-1 Cowboys, 5-2 Las Vegas Raiders and 5-3 Cincinnati Bengals absorb all exceeded expectations. The 2-6 Washington Soccer Personnel and 1-7 Miami Dolphins, no longer so grand.
Now that we now absorb hit the midway point of the season, Bleacher File NFL Analysts Gary Davenport, Brad Gagnon and Brent Sobleski and NFL Editors Ian Kenyon and Wes O’Donnell absorb arrangement collectively to host a virtual midseason NFL Honors. Fewer trophies and nasty jokes, but a few awards for the league’s finest performances by americans and teams alike.
Who is the NFL MVP eight weeks in? What about the rookies of the 300 and sixty five days?
Read on to search out out!
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Matt Lafleur, Green Bay Packers (3 votes)
2021 has been pretty the accelerate for Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur.
For grand of the spring and summer, LaFleur needed to answer to query after query about the happiness (or lack thereof) of his necessary particular person quarterback and his future with the team.
When the fashioned season started with a blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints, it seemed that everyone in every of the distractions had taken a toll on the team. Nonetheless because it seems, the Pack had been accurate showing the the leisure of the NFC a tiny bit gentle earlier to slamming the door.
At 7-1, the Packers are tied with the Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals for the fitting document within the NFC. All suggested, LaFleur is now 35-9 as a head coach within the NFL, with trips to the NFC Championship Game after each of his first two seasons. Most efficient one coach in NFL history has more wins over his first 40 video games than LaFleur’s 33.
That coach is Guy Chamberlin, who coached reduction within the 1920s.
“Stress changed into once greater on LaFleur this season than any pretty a few coach within the NFL,” Kenyon acknowledged. “He changed into once coming real into a Colossal Bowl-or-Bust, ‘Remaining Dance’ season with Aaron Rodgers’ future in Green Bay in limbo. After getting trounced Week 1 by the Saints, issues gave the look of they’ll also potentially spiral out of administration.
“Nonetheless LaFleur’s coaching has been nothing attempting impeccable, main the team to seven straight wins, including a boulevard use without Davante Adams over the unbeaten Cardinals. LaFleur has the Packers positioned to keep their last honest this 300 and sixty five days despite all of the chaos surrounding the team this previous offseason.”
Others Receiving Votes: Kliff Kingsbury, Arizona Cardinals (1 vote); Zac Taylor, Cincinnati Bengals (1 vote)
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Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans (4 votes)
After main the NFL in rushing each of the previous two seasons, Tennessee Titans working reduction Derrick Henry changed into once off to one other improbable originate.
Over eight video games, Henry carried the ball 219 cases for 937 yards and 10 touchdowns, all of which led the league via Week 8. He averaged 117.1 yards per recreation, which may maybe absorb save him on tempo to change into the critical reduction in NFL history to prime 2,000 yards in reduction-to-reduction seasons.
That’s all the design via now. After breaking a bone in his foot last week in opposition to the Indianapolis Colts, Henry underwent surgical treatment that may maybe doubtless sideline him for the the leisure of the fashioned season.
By the purpose the NFL Honors roll spherical in February, one other participant will doubtless prefer dwelling the Offensive Participant of the 300 and sixty five days award. Nonetheless four of our panelists, including Gagnon, gave our midseason version of the appreciate to Henry anyway.
“He clearly may maybe no longer use it now, but that is a midseason no-brainer,” he acknowledged. “By eight weeks, Henry led the NFL in scrimmage yards by a 172-yard margin and changed into once tied for the league lead with a double-digit touchdown total. He changed into once working away with one other rushing crown and may maybe doubtless level-headed lead the league in that metric for three or four more weeks despite the reality he may maybe no longer be on the self-discipline. What a shame.”
What a shame indeed.
Others receiving votes: Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams (1 vote)
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Jim Mone/Linked Press
Trevon Diggs, CB, Dallas Cowboys (3 votes)
It’s no longer comfy that the DPOY vote changed into once end. There are two gamers whose efficiency over the critical eight weeks of the season stands above the the leisure of the league.
Cleveland Browns edge-rusher Myles Garrett has been terrorizing opposing quarterbacks all season lengthy. The most considerable total settle on within the 2017 draft has notched no longer lower than a half of-sack in seven of Cleveland’s first eight video games on the methodology to 10.5 for the season.
“Or no longer it is no longer accurate that Garrett leads the NFL in sacks, or that he’s on tempo to prefer a predominant stride at Michael Strahan’s single-season document of 22.5,” Davenport acknowledged. “He has been an unblockable terror each and each week, and double-teams don’t even appear to behind him down that grand. Garrett already has the franchise records for sacks in a recreation (4.5) and a season (13.5). By the purpose the mud settles on 2021, he may maybe neatly absorb Strahan’s document as neatly.”
Nonetheless, Garrett changed into once beaten out for Defensive Participant of the 300 and sixty five days by 2nd-300 and sixty five days cornerback Trevon Diggs, who piled up seven interceptions over the critical six video games of 2021 and possesses a minuscule passer rating in opposition to of 43.9.
“The numbers discuss for themselves, as he leads the league in interceptions, pass deflections and defensive touchdowns,” O’Donnell acknowledged. “A truly powerful allotment, although, is how immense of an affect he’s made all the design via the Cowboys’ six-recreation use walk. If he retains it up, and Dallas lands the tip seed within the NFC, he can even warrant being within the MVP dialog.”
Others receiving votes: Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns (2 votes)
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Ja’Marr Travel, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (5 votes)
When the Cincinnati Bengals passed up Oregon offensive address Penei Sewell in desire of LSU large receiver Ja’Marr Travel with the No. 5 total settle on, some questioned the data of that decision.
No one is questioning it now.
Travel isn’t any longer accurate having one in every of the fitting seasons ever by a rookie wideout. He is having one in every of the fitting seasons of any wideout within the NFL, duration.
Travel’s 786 receiving yards ranks third within the league. He is furthermore tied for fourth within the NFL with seven touchdowns, and he has topped 100 yards in a recreation three cases, including a franchise-rookie-document 201 yards in opposition to the Baltimore Ravens. Travel is furthermore averaging 20.7 yards per take hang of, tops within the league amongst gamers with 10 or more receptions.
“At this fee, Travel isn’t any longer accurate going to interrupt Justin Jefferson’s rookie receiving document—he’s going to obliterate it,” Davenport acknowledged. “That Travel is so without whine rampaging all the design via the NFL is your total more spectacular whilst you explain about that he did now not even play soccer in 2020. Travel and Joe Burrow absorb picked up lawful where they left off in Baton Rouge, and they also’re already one in every of the most terrible pitch-and-gain duos within the NFL.”
Per ESPN’s Ben Toddler, Travel desires more than to be allotment of 1 in all the fitting QB/WR duos within the league. He desires to u.s. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams as the (inexperienced and) gold typical in that regard.
“I explain we can better than Davante Adams and Mr. A-Rod,” Travel acknowledged.
Maintain no longer bet in opposition to him.
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Micah Parsons, LB, Dallas Cowboys (4 votes)
The Dallas Cowboys are one in every of the NFL’s largest surprises over the critical half of of the 2021 season. And whereas gamers like quarterback Dak Prescott, working reduction Ezekiel Elliott and huge receiver CeeDee Lamb absorb all performed a allotment in their 6-1 originate, the Cowboys wouldn’t be where they are with no vastly improved protection.
That protection wouldn’t be vastly improved without the addition of Penn Shriek’s Micah Parsons.
Parsons has been nothing attempting a revelation for the team. He started off the 300 and sixty five days playing off-ball linebacker, but when Demarcus Lawrence suffered a season-ending foot harm, Parsons changed into once pressed into action as an edge-rusher.
He did now not leave out a beat. Parsons has performed each spots as neatly as any first-300 and sixty five days participant within the league, and he suggested David Helman of the team’s web page that he’s accurate getting started.
“There may maybe be by no methodology a time when I’m within the game where I of direction feel like I develop no longer belong,” he acknowledged. “I know I belong right here. I know I must always be out right here playing.”
The NFL workers right here at Bleacher File is of the same opinion wholeheartedly—Parsons is lawful where he belongs.
“Parsons is so proficient and flies to the ball so swiftly, he may maybe as neatly be nicknamed ‘Starscream,'” Sobleski wrote.
“Need an off-ball linebacker to man the center of the protection? No whine. Parsons is 2nd on the Dallas Cowboys with 40 total tackles. Want a hybrid edge defender whereas others are injured? No whine. The Penn Shriek product transforms into the league’s finest pass-rusher amongst rookies, per Pro Soccer Focal point.
“There’s no have to conceal what Parsons can enact, because he can enact it all at a slightly high stage.”
Others receiving votes: Azeez Ojulari, Edge, New York Giants (1 vote)
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Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys (3 votes)
Dak Prescott’s 2020 season changed into once minimize short by a unhappy fractured ankle in Week 5.
His 2021 season has been pretty a bit dreamier.
Prescott’s march toward Comeback Participant of the 300 and sixty five days honors hit slightly a snag last week when a calf harm brought on him to leave out a Dallas use over the New York Giants. Nonetheless when he’s been on the self-discipline, he has performed MVP-caliber soccer.
By six starts this season, Prescott has carried out 73.1 percent of his passes and averaged 302.2 passing yards with 16 touchdowns, four interceptions and a career-high 115.0 passer rating. No quarterback within the league is playing at a markedly greater stage.
“In Week 5 of the 2020 NFL season, Prescott suffered a compound fracture and dislocation to his lawful ankle,” Kenyon acknowledged. “A 300 and sixty five days later, he’s playing the fitting 300 and sixty five days of his career. With the Cowboys positioned to compose a predominant stride within the NFC, Dak isn’t any longer most efficient in competitors for Comeback Participant of the 300 and sixty five days; he may maybe furthermore rating himself squarely within the MVP stride by season’s pause.”
Silent, with Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow furthermore lighting fixtures it up after tearing his ACL last season, Prescott better catch reduction on the self-discipline soon. Otherwise, he may maybe catch passed up by Burrow or one other NFL necessary particular person on a rebound rampage.
Others receiving votes: Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals (2 votes)
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Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams (4 votes)
In fantasy soccer, success is set discovering gamers who vastly outperform their draft slot. This 300 and sixty five days, no one has carried out that more than Los Angeles Rams large receiver Cooper Kupp.
As Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic illustrious, Kupp has swiftly emerged as Matthew Stafford’s favourite target and a leader of 1 in all the league’s finest offenses:
“The Rams absorb the NFL’s most efficient offense, and Kupp’s skill to catch originate in tight areas within the crimson zone is a immense reason why. Kupp has been targeted a league-high 20 cases within the crimson zone. He is caught 14 of those targets, scoring on 9 of them and selecting up first downs on three others. By accurate about any metric, Kupp has been an elite large receiver so some distance this season.”
Kupp leads the league in receiving yards (924) and touchdowns and is pacing the NFC in receptions with 63. He furthermore leads all large receivers in fantasy aspects by a large margin.
No longer nasty for a man who changed into once barely drafted interior the tip 20 receivers on moderate this 300 and sixty five days.
“Kupp has been a immense allotment of the Sean McVay offense since his rookie season, but he’s now the true point of curiosity, and the numbers are staggering,” O’Donnell acknowledged. “His connection with Stafford looks easy. He is the finest receiver within the league with double-digit touchdowns so some distance this 300 and sixty five days, pacing him to flirt with capacity document numbers each for yards and scores. Whether he gets there doesn’t of direction matter; he’s level-headed inclined to total up being the most treasured skill-characteristic participant in fantasy soccer.”
Others receiving votes: Cordarrelle Patterson, RB, Atlanta Falcons (1 vote)
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Trevon Diggs, CB, Dallas Cowboys (3 votes)
And we absorb our first repeat award winner! We hope Diggs has room on his mantle for all of this imaginary hardware.
Diggs may maybe scoot the the leisure of the season without intercepting one other pass. Nonetheless as Ben Solak wrote at The Ringer, he has something that objects him other than most of the NFL’s pretty a few immense names at his characteristic—a history of playing large receiver:
“Diggs’s ball abilities are legit, and may maybe encourage him convert pass breakups to interceptions at a solid fee. Be wide awake, some very proficient cornerbacks excel at discouraging targets with tight coverage and disrupt passes with size and strength, but simply enact no longer absorb the ball abilities to reel in interceptions. Avid gamers like Tampa Bay nook Carlton Davis (46 career pass destroy-ups, six career interceptions) and Diggs’s predecessor in Dallas, Miami nook Byron Jones (52 career PBUs, four career INTs) match this mildew. Every are roughly the same size as Diggs, and excel in similar alignments: man coverage, deep third zones, pressed on the dual carriageway of scrimmage—and each are ethical athletes to boot. Nonetheless neither first dedicated to Alabama as a large receiver, the methodology Diggs did. As Diggs shared this previous week, he cried when Alabama head coach Reduce Saban switched him from large receiver to cornerback—but now, that switch has positioned him as one in every of the fitting younger ball hawks within the league.”
Silent, Diggs must be regarded as the runaway favourite to lead the league in interceptions, and it can most efficient prefer three more for him to hit 10 on the season. And if a 10-settle on season isn’t any longer a breakout, we don’t know what is.
“No longer most efficient is the sophomore on tempo to atomize the one-season interceptions document of 14, but he’s been large in coverage all 300 and sixty five days lengthy and is a prime DPOY candidate,” Kenyon wrote. “While he changed into once removed from a breeze in his rookie campaign, no one has made a jump as indispensable as the one Diggs has made in 2021. We’ll look if he can defend it, but even just a few more picks will end result in a wildly spectacular season for him when it involves his playmaking skill.”
Others receiving votes: Denzel Perryman, ILB, Las Vegas Raiders (1 vote); Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers (1 vote)
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Javon Hargrave, DT, Philadelphia Eagles (2 votes)
Hundreds of NFL gamers absorb shown marked development in 2021. That’s shown in our votes for Most Improved Participant of the 300 and sixty five days, as four gamers bought a vote.
For Sobleski, the settle on changed into once Las Vegas Raiders edge-rusher Maxx Crosby. Or no longer it is miles a sentiment shared by Doug Kyed of Pro Soccer Focal point.
“In accurate seven video games, Crosby has seven sacks, 12 QB hits and 47 total pressures,” Kyed acknowledged. “He is already keep a career-high in QB hits, and he’s one dominant pass stride some distance from his prime fee in pressures. Crosby has furthermore been a actual stride defender (74.3 grade) this season.”
Meanwhile, Davenport singled out Green Bay Packers linebacker De’Vondre Campbell.
“When Campbell signed with the Packers within the offseason, the deal generated exactly zero hype,” he acknowledged. “Nonetheless Campbell has been doing a few hype-constructing sense. The 28-300 and sixty five days-used is sixth within the NFL in tackles and has added a sack, two interceptions and two compelled fumbles. He may maybe accurate be the defensive MVP for a 7-1 Packers team.”
Nonetheless, most efficient one participant bought more than one votes.
In 2020, Philadelphia Eagles defensive address Javon Hargrave tallied 38 tackles and 4.5 sacks all the design via 15 video games. Eight video games into the 2nd 300 and sixty five days of his Eagles tenure, Hargrave has already bested each marks, piling up 40 stops and 6 sacks whereas emerging as Philly’s finest defensive lineman.
Those six sacks are tied for the NFL lead amongst interior linemen, and more than Aaron Donald of the Rams, DeForest Buckner of the Colts and Quinnen Williams of the Jets.
Others receiving votes: De’Vondre Campbell, ILB, Green Bay Packers (1 vote); Maxx Crosby, DE, Las Vegas Raiders (1 vote); Harold Landry III, Edge, Tennessee Titans (1 vote)
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Los Angeles Rams (3 votes)
There has been no shortage of surprises so some distance this season, but eight weeks in, we absorb a reasonably ethical belief of who the league’s finest teams are.
Within the AFC, four two-loss teams sit down in a logjam on the tip of the conference: the Baltimore Ravens, Las Vegas Raiders, Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans. The Raiders are the largest overperformers of the lot, and it is engaging to catch a bead on the Titans after Derrick Henry went down.
That leaves the Ravens and Bills, and of the 2, the Bills appear to absorb the fitting steadiness between offense and protection. Plus, they’re most efficient one Josh Allen budge some distance from being 6-1 in predicament of 5-2.
Within the NFC, four teams absorb most efficient one loss, and a few those teams absorb performed one one other this season. The Los Angeles Rams had been handed their lone lack of the 300 and sixty five days by the 7-1 Arizona Cardinals, who had been handed their most efficient loss by the 7-1 Green Bay Packers.
Of those contenders, the Rams made the largest splash on the replace time limit, swinging a deal for Pro Bowl edge-rusher Von Miller. Nonetheless that replace wasn’t why Davenport changed into once one in every of three pundits who voted for Los Angeles as the fitting team within the league on the midway point of the season.
“The Rams are my settle on for finest team no longer thanks to any one participant, but thanks to the steadiness they absorb got on each aspects of the ball,” he acknowledged. The Rams can throw the ball all the design via the self-discipline, but Darrell Henderson Jr. is furthermore an underrated working reduction. Defensively, they already had a solid entrance seven earlier to procuring Miller, and Jalen Ramsey would be the fitting cornerback within the NFL. This team doesn’t absorb any glaring weaknesses.”
Others receiving votes: Buffalo Bills (2 votes)
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Matthew Stafford, QB, Los Angeles Rams (3 votes)
It will doubtless be engaging selecting an MVP on the midway point of a season. Plenty can and may maybe happen between now and the NFL Honors on February 12.
Some gamers will catch sizzling within the season’s 2nd half of. Others will cool off.
There’s one factor we enact know: The NFL’s Most Precious Participant will all but surely be a quarterback. The last non-quarterback to use the award changed into once Adrian Peterson reduction in 2012.
Particular ample, all of the votes right here went to quarterbacks—three in total.
Most efficient one in every of those signal-callers bought more than one votes. While Matthew Stafford of the Rams has thrown for over 47,000 yards and 304 touchdowns all the design via his 13-300 and sixty five days NFL career, he hasn’t skilled postseason success or earned particular particular person accolades. His lone Pro Bowl time out came in 2014.
Nonetheless, Sobleski changed into once one in every of three voters who believes that may maybe change in 2021.
“Tom Brady is big,” he acknowledged. “Kyler Murray is big. Derrick Henry changed into once large earlier to his foot harm. All of that is good, and each deserves some MVP recognition on the halfway fee of the 2022 campaign. Nonetheless most efficient Stafford entered a contemporary scenario, elevated the team spherical him and placed it squarely within the mix as a Colossal Bowl contender and the league’s finest squad.
“The Los Angeles Rams knew they’d to be better at quarterback, so they traded Jared Goff, a third-spherical draft settle on and two future first-spherical selections for Stafford. How has the 33-300 and sixty five days-used dilapidated rewarded them? He ranks amongst the tip three quarterbacks in passing yardage, yards per strive, touchdown passes, passer rating and QBR. He is been everything Sean McVay hoped for and more.”
Others receiving votes: Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1 vote); Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals (1 vote)