Week 9 in the NFL means that we're at the mid point of the NFL Season. If the playoffs started tomorrow, the Bills, the Bengals, the 49ers and the Lions would be in the playoffs. That's the type of season it has been so far and quite frankly I couldn't be happier. Let's change things up a little this week with a midseason Awards blog. Click for first half winners and some predictions after the jump...
Sunday, November 6th (1:00 ET Kickoffs)
Atlanta Falcons (-7) vs. Indianapolis Colts
Team with Potentially Hardest 2012 Draft Decision to Make: The Colts take this award when they inevitably find themselves in position to take Andrew Luck with a healthy Peyton Manning looming as the starter next year. I think you have to take Luck no matter what - but I'm not sure how that sits with Peyton knowing that for the first time his heir apparent will be holding the clipboard on the sidelines.
I'll take the Falcons and lay the points in this one.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints (-8.5)
Most Head-Scratching Loss in the First Half: This would be a tie between the Buccaneers (48-3 demolishing handed to them by the 49ers) and the Saints (last week's 31-21 loss to the winless Rams). Congratulations guys - you both continue to hand the division back and forth to each other like a hot potato.
I think it will be the Saints turn to momentarily seize control of the division - take them minus the points at home.
New York Jets vs. Buffalo Bills (-2)
Surprise Team of the First Half: Buffalo. I'm still not even sure this is real. Are analysts really using adjectives like "potent" and "high-scoring" when describing the Bills offense? Just last year we were the laughing stock of the league at 0-8 and continued our non-playoff appearance streak to 11 seasons. What a difference a year makes. First place in the AFC East when no one gave them a chance. I love me an underdog, especially when its the Bills.
Defensive Player of the First Half: Revis Island. I hope the Bills can establish a run game early on because Stevie Johnson will definitely be removed by Darrelle Revis. On passes thrown towards Revis Island, QB's in the league have managed a whopping 2.9 QB Rating. No debate as to who the best cornerback in the league is.
I expect this game to be close all the way throughout - but I'll stick with the Bills and hope they can knock Sexy Rexy off his feet.
Cleveland Browns vs. Houston Texans (-10.5)
Most Underrated team of the First Half: Houston. No one is talking about them - they've handled the Titans, the Colts, and the Jags so far this year and are the clear cut favorites to cruise to their first ever AFC South title and division appearance. Exciting times for Texans fans and they've done it for periods of time without stars like WR Andre Johnson (Out again this week) and RB Arian Foster who started the season on the injured list. It's too bad that DE Mario Williams is on the shelf for the season or else I might be thinking about them to make a deep run in the playoffs. Still - they've performed despite the injuries and continue to play well behind Mr. Underrated himself QB Matt Schaub.
I'll take the Texans and lay the points at home in this one.
Miami Dolphins vs. Kansas City Chiefs (-4)
First Half Award to team I absolutely wrote off after 2 weeks: Kansas City. After their early season struggles I thought Todd Haley was going to take the honors of first coach to get fired. The Chiefs looked horrendous. No other way to put it. I'm not sure that they've completely turned it around - as I question their ability to move the ball on offense... Their defense is lead by LB Derrick Johnson and DE Tamba Hali who has 6 of the teams lackluster 9 sacks. These guys have put themselves into a three way tie in the AFC West and that should say enough about the turnaround this team has made after early season blowouts to Buffalo and Detroit.
I like the Chiefs to win, but only by three - I'll take the Dolphins to lose their 3rd straight contest by a Field Goal.
San Francisco 49ers (-3.5) vs Washington Redskins
First-Half Coach of the Year: Jim Harbaugh - 49ers. Anyone else have the 49ers at 6-1 with a 4 game division lead through 8 weeks? He had very little time to prepare for the season as a first year coach. The 49ers have been impressive and look to be playing inspired football particularly on the defensive side of the ball. He's also given us "Handshake-Gate" and has somehow won 6 games with Alex Smith. Those two facts alone are good enough to give him first half coach of the year.
For the game - I'll take the Redskins plus the points solely because they have the better coach - huh?
Seattle Seahawks vs. Dallas Cowboys (-11.5)
First Half award to team that screwed up all Survivor Leagues: Seattle. Their inexplicable win on the road against the Giants in week 5 still stings. Especially given the offensive performances that they've mustered up since then. They are my least favorite team in the league right now and are three time participants in the "game I will avoid watching at all costs" award. There is only one song that I can think of to explain how I feel about the Seahawks organization so far this year.
I'll take the Cowboys to bounce back at home.
Sunday, November 6th (4:00 ET Kickoffs)
Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders (-7.5)
First Half Moment that made you say "Wait, What?": This is also a tie between the Broncos - who traded away Tim Tebow's only legitimate WR in Brandon Lloyd for a SIXTH Round pick - and the Raiders who gave up potentially TWO first round picks for Carson Palmer. I honestly could not have been more confused by these two decisions - the Broncos are a terrible, terrible football team - and the Raiders' only showing was a 28-0 shutout against the Chiefs. Excellent work by executives on both teams.
I'm not falling for the Tebow trap two weeks in a row - I'll take the Raiders at home.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Tennessee Titans (-3)
First Half Rookie of the Year: QB Andy Dalton - I know I know Cam Newton is doing godly things in Carolina with his jaw-dropping playmaking abilities - but Andy Dalton has been equally meaningful to this 5-2 Bengal team. Everybody wrote them off this year especially with the psuedo-retirement of Carson Palmer - but Dalton has given the Bengals hope for the future especially with WR A.J. Green and the 2 Raiders First round picks.
I'll take Dalton and the Bengals to take this one in Tennessee against a struggling Titans team.
St. Louis Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals (-3)
No awards to handout here except for the weekly "game that I will avoid watching at all costs". The Cardinals are starting Fordham University's (honestly didn't know they had a football program) finest - John Skelton at QB. I'll take the points and the Rams.
New York Giants vs. New England Patriots (-9)
First Half "Fade into Oblivion" Award: Chad Ochocinco. 9 catches for 136 yards. That used to be a normal Sunday for Chad Johnson - those are his numbers thru 8 weeks with the Patriots. While many thought that he could be the explosive WR that Randy Moss was when he came over from the Raiders - this experiment simply has not worked out. Teams have started to lock-in on Wes Welker making the passing game slightly less efficient.
I look for the Patriots and Tom Brady who has win his last 31 games at home to bounce back this week against the G-men, but I'll take the Giants plus the points in this one.
Green Bay Packers (-6) vs. San Diego Chargers
First-Half MVP: QB Aaron Rodgers - Packers. He's a machine playing on another level right now. The Packers have completely masked the fact that they don't run the ball well because Rodgers puts them in position to score from literally anywhere on the field.
First Half LVP: QB Philip Rivers - Chargers. He's been the exact opposite of Aaron Rodgers. Un-clutch when his team needs him to simply handle a snap. He's also my QB in the fantasy league that I don't have a winning record. Thank you Philip.
Give me the Packers and lay the points on the road.
Sunday, November 6th (8:30 ET Kickoff)
Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5)
First Half Quote of the Season: DE Terrell Suggs - Ravens. When asked about the Ravens/Steelers rivalry Suggs responded, "Ravens-Steelers gets everybody's piss hot, we know what this game is about. Fuck it. Let's do it." You can't make these things up. I'm hoping that Suggs and Ravens DT Haloti Ngata converge on Big Ben for a sack and just start urinating on Heinz Field.
I'll take the Ravens plus the points to win this one on the road.
Monday, November 7th (8:40 ET Kickoff)
Chicago Bears vs. Philadelphia Eagles (-7.5)
Special Team Player of the First Half: Devin Hester. Hey Chas Henry friendly piece of advice. Don't punt/kick/throw the football in the vicinity of Devin Hester.
Breakout Player of the First Half: This comes down to the RB's from each of these teams: Matt Forte and LeSean McCoy - but I gotta give McCoy the edge because he's been able to find the endzone 10 times compared to Forte's 3. Both of these guys are the keys to their teams' success so I expect to see a lot of action out of the backfield on Monday Night.
I like the Eagles to win this game and cover the spread.
Last Week: 6-7
Season Record: 57-53-5