NFL mid-season awards predictions; Can Christian McCaffrey break the QB stranglehold on the MVP award?


Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey is having a monster 2019 season and is a legitimate contender for the NFL’s MVP award.

Through week eight of the NFL season, fans have witnessed unique and unbelievable aspects that have made this season different than others. Annually, a day prior to the Super Bowl, players and a coach are rewarded for their performances throughout the regular season with acclaimed awards, such as the Most Valuable Player (MVP), Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year, and the Coach of the Year.

To start off, the MVP race will be one of the tightest races. In our opinion, four quarterbacks and a running back are the ones battling for the award so far this season.

 Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers running back, has been dominating defenses left and right. With the absence of their starting quarterback Cam Newton, McCaffrey has taken on the huge role of getting a majority of the team’s touches through carrying and receiving the ball as an every-down back.

Currently, he ranks second in rushing yards in only eight games played with 887 yards. Also, he has 10 touchdowns on the ground with a ridiculous average of 5.34 yards per carry. Through the air, McCaffrey has gained 363 yards with three touchdowns.

Because of his great use by the Panthers and their winning record that wouldn’t be possible without him, Christian McCaffrey is well deserving of the MVP award.

Next up, Patrick Mahomes, quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, can make a case for becoming a repeat winner of the MVP award. The only factor than can prevent Mahomes from winning the award is his knee injury suffered on a QB sneak call in his week seven matchup against the Denver Broncos. He should be back by week 10, so he may be able to resume his campaign for the award.

Through 6.5 games, Mahomes has put up MVP-like numbers: 2,180 passing yards,15 passing touchdowns, and a quarterback rating (QBR) of 113.1. With his presence on the field, the Chiefs were 5-2 before the team played without him. Clearly, Mahomes is a possible candidate for the award.

Deshaun Watson has been playing incredibly as the quarterback for the Houston Texans this season, making him a very favorable candidate for the MVP award. Watson’s chances have improved as J.J Watt, the team’s best defensive player, was recently injured and is out for the rest of the season. Without a star player like Watt, Watson’s unbelievable performances will appear more impressive than ever before if he single handedly leads his team to the playoffs.

This season, Watson has 2,432 passing yards, 18 passing touchdowns, and a QBR of 107.1. In week eight, he threw the game winning touchdown to Darren Fells after being kicked in the eye. Watson noted that it was almost as if he was blind when throwing the ball. Along with his passing ability, Watson’s capability to run the ball as a quarterback is also very impressive with 279 yards and five touchdowns rushing. The Texans are 6-3 so far this season and have beaten impressive teams, including the Chiefs. Watson has a great chance of winning the award.

Russel Wilson’s performance through the first half of the season has been unreal as well. Similar to Watson, Wilson can perform at the highest level on the ground or through the air. Being the main component to a 7-2 start for the Seattle Seahawks will for sure acquire MVP votes for Wilson.

Wilson’s stats have been unreal to say the least: 2,505 passing yards, 22 passing touchdowns, and a QBR of 118.2. Moreover, Wilson has run for 203 yards and scored three times while scrambling. He leads the league in passing touchdowns, scoring more times than elite quarterbacks such as Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, and Deshaun Watson.

Aaron Rodgers, former NFL MVP, in our opinion, has the greatest chance to win the award again. The Green Bay Packers are currently 7-2 and were on a four-game winning streak until losing to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. Rodgers started off the season not really putting up monster stats like he has in the last few weeks; however, in the three weeks before Sunday’s loss to the Chargers, Rodgers led the team to three wins with 10 passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown.

Rodgers has executed at this high level with the absence of his star receiver, Davante Adams, for a majority of the season. Adams returned to action Sunday against the Chargers. Rodgers will only lead his team to more wins and perform at an insane level with the readdition of Adams. Up to this point, Rodgers has 2,485 passing yards, is fourth in passing touchdowns with 17 and has a QBR of 104.4. He also has 102 rushing yards with one touchdown.

The reason we believe that Rodgers will win MVP of the league is due to the inability of the other candidates to continue their dominance and the likely possibility that Rodgers will continue dominating the league despite this past Sunday’s misstep. Rodgers has done so well to this point without his top weapon of Adams, and the addition will only help him. 

It is very rare for the MVP to be given to a running back, so McCaffrey is out of the option. Mahomes’ games played will definitely affect his campaign; therefore, we don’t think he will have played enough games to win the award. We believe that once Watson starts facing more dominant defenses, such as the Ravens and the Patriots, his performance level will drop off a bit. Wilson will likely be the runner-up to Rodgers due to his amazing season thus far; however, he won’t win because Rodgers is getting hot at the right time while Wilson has not been playing at an MVP level as of late as evidenced in his last two games where he only scored three touchdowns compared to Rodgers’ nine.

McCaffrey should win Offensive Player of the Year only because of the way the NFL awards the MVP each year. Usually, running backs don’t win the MVP; however, McCaffrey is having such a dominant year that an awardless season will be disappointing to many. His stats are to show, and the Panthers offensive would likely be in shambles without him, for most of their offensive plays and formations are designed for the star running back.

Defensive Player of the Year will most likely be awarded to one of two players: Stephon Gillmore, cornerback for the Patriots, or Aaron Donald, defensive tackle for the Rams. Both players have allowed their teams to outperform their opponents by shutting down the opponents’ offenses.

Gillmore has been the top player of a defense that has been historically unbelievable. Three interceptions, ten passes defended, and a touchdown have been the outstanding stats he has recorded against teams so far this season. 

He most likely will not win the award simply because of how great the other players on his team have played this season. Devin McCourty has five interceptions, and Jamie Collins Sr. has three interceptions. Given this, it shows that Gillmore is performing at an outstanding level; however, he is surrounded by such great talent that is valuability is questionable.

Aaron Donald, on the other hand, is the biggest piece of the puzzle for the Rams defense. Donald is going for a three peat of the award, and we believe that he will get it. Donald has five sacks on his opposing quarterbacks, 25 total tackles, and one fumble recovery. Unlike Gillmore, Donald is unquestionably the most valuable defensive player his team has. While Gillmore is surrounded by high-performing talent, Donald is the head of a Rams defense that would be much, much less without his presence

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Raiders running back Josh Jacobs should win Offensive Rookie of the Year over other candidates, such as quarterbacks Daniel Jones and Kyler Murray of the Giants and the Cardinals, respectively. He is more deserving because he has been a major piece of the Raiders offense to this point in the season and has been more dominant on the field than Murray and Jones.

Jacobs is sixth in the league in rushing yards (740), has six rushing touchdowns, and an average carry of just under five yards per carry. Murray and Jones have shown flashes, but both have also displayed reasons why they shouldn’t be the winners of the award. In week 7, Murray just barely surpassed 100 passing yards against a weak New York Giants secondary. Although the offense may have been designed to run, those types of numbers aren’t ones that are rewarded a high honor. Jones, in his seven starts has turned the ball over 16 times. Although they each have their flaws, any of these three would be fine recipients of the award.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Nick Bosa, defensive end for the 49ers, is the heavy favorite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. So far this season, Nick Bosa has 21 total tackles, seven sacks, a forced fumble, and an interception returned for 46 yards. Since he is such a likely candidate to win this award, we don’t think that he will also be given the Defensive Player of the Year honor.

Devin Bush, linebacker for the Steelers, is also up for the running with an impressive 66 total tackles, one sack, and two interceptions. Bush’s stats are very impressive; however, Bosa has been dominating teams to such a degree that a season without this award would be a robbery to the defensive end out of Ohio State.

Coach of the Year: Kyle Shanahan, coach of the 49ers, should join Nick Bosa as another 49er to bring home an award for the franchise. The 49ers are currently 8-0, the only remaining undefeated team after the New England Patriots loss to the Ravens on Sunday night. Shanahan has been the leader of the pack for this team. Without any major superstars, Shanahan has been able to put all the pieces together and help this team beat formidable opponents such as the Rams.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick will for sure get votes as well. Many argue that Belichick could win this award every year, so we don’t think that the NFL voters will award him with the Coach of the Year. Sean Payton should get votes, for the Saints were undefeated while starting quarterback Drew Brees was hurt. Second string quarterback Teddy Bridgewater deserves praise, but Payton does too. Expect one of these three coaches to win the Coach of the Year award.

In February, we will see how well our predictions match up to the actual recipients of the awards. Injuries and many more weeks of games to be played will definitely have a factor on the outcome of these predictions. For now, keep watching and expect these players and coaches to shine through the second half of the season.