– Jon Ramsey
Midway point of the season and I figured it was a good time to give out some midseason awards. The awards have been voted on by an esteemed panel of judges (me) and the award winners will get absolutely nothing. But on the other hand it is my column and I can write about whatever I want.
The full season MVP will most likely be Tom Brady, but he has only played in 4 games so I can’t give him the midseason MVP. That has to go to Matt Ryan. He is a pretty popular pick, but without him playing lights out, the Falcons are probably 3-6 instead of 6-3. The Falcons defense has given up 259 points, that is last in the NFL. They have only held 2 teams under 28, and that is the Broncos with Paxton Lynch and the Seahawks with an injured Wilson. Atlanta is 6-3 based on their offense and Matt Ryan has been crazy good. He has 2980 yards passing in only 9 games, 23 TDs vs 4 INTs, and is averaging 9.5 yards per attempt. Ryan has thrown for at least 240 yards in every game and has had a QB rating over 87 in every game as well. His 9.3 adj net yards / attempt would be the highest for a QB since 2011. A truly amazing half of a year.
Midseason Best Coach
Coach of the season so far is Belichick. Got the Pats to 3-1 without Brady, and they have dominated teams since he has been back. Consistently wins, consistently gets good play from everyone on his team. Probably should win this award every year, but that would be as boring as his press conferences.
Midseason Rookie of the year
I think the 2 Dallas rookies have been the 2 best rookies and it is tough to pick between them. Even though I think quarterback is the tougher position to play, I think it has been Elliott that has made the biggest difference. He is averaging 5 yards a carry with the 3rd most rushing attempts. Leads the league in rushing yardage, 20+ yard runs and rushing 1st downs. Yes, he does have that great offensive line, but he has produced better than anyone could have expected.
Surprise of the year
Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. See above for my reasoning, but nobody expected the Atlanta offense to catch fire like it has. Totally dominant in every game that they have played, have scored 80 more points than any other team in the league. Will be in every game and only will need average play by their defense to make a good playoff run.
Disappointment of the year
The Carolina Panthers, they went 15-1 last year and have started off this year 2-5. They have lost at home to the Vikings and Tampa Bay, and have yet to win a game on the road. Pretty much need to run the table to have any chance to make the playoffs. Cam’s problems with the officiating haven’t helped things either. Though I do agree with him.
Team to watch in the 2nd half
The San Diego Super Chargers. These guys found every way in the book to lose games early on in the season but have started to turn it around. Beat the Broncos and Falcons in back to back weeks (before losing to Denver last week), and now the schedule starts to get easy. The Texans and Raiders are the only 2 teams they play with a winning record before they get the Chiefs at home to end the season. Could be a play-in game for the playoffs. Rivers has been excellent, but it has been the improvement from Melvin Gordon that has made this offense into an excellent unit.
Bills Midseason MVP
I’m tempted to go with Alexander or Zach Brown, but the most valuable player on the team is LeSean McCoy. The team really runs through him, it is no coincidence that as he got hot, so did the team and as he got hurt, the offense struggled. A healthy McCoy will be the key to the team’s playoff chances.
Bills Surprise of the year
Lorenzo Alexander sneaks by Zach Brown here only because he was a special teams signing even before the Bills drafted Shaq Lawson. Alexander has been a perfect fit for the Bills, dominating on special teams, setting the edge in the run game, and showing versatility when pass rushing causing trouble for opposing teams from the edge and up the middle when the Bills go to their 1DL package. Not only is Alexander leading the NFL in sacks he also has forced 3 fumbles which is tied for 2nd in the league. A true impact player.
Bills Disappointment of the year
I am going to go a bit rogue with this pick, but my pick for disappointment of the year the Bills medical staff. Probably the 3 best players on the team (Watkins, McCoy, and Dareus) have all played and then reaggravated injuries, while the Shaq Lawson debacle from draft time, cost him the 1st 6 weeks of the season as well. The Bills need to take a long hard look at how they are medically clearing guys because it has really cost the team so far this year.
Bills Prediction for the 2nd half
I think the Bills need to go 6-2 to make the playoffs at 10-6, but I just don’t see it. And trust me, I want to see it. The schedule looks pretty easy and 6 wins is definitely doable, but I see at least 2 losses from the 3 game combo of (@Seattle, @Oakland, and Pittsburgh). If that happens then they need to run the table, which as the Miami and Baltimore games have shown, no game is a given. Therefore, my prediction is 9-7 and a lot of cursing by Bills fans everywhere. On to the picks.
Jacksonville at Kansas City (-7.5)
Not a fan of the Jags on the road in KC, but I don’t trust Foles and 7.5 is too much. Allen Robinson has to get hot in at least 1 game this year right?
Detroit at Minnesota (-6)
Lots of people betting on the Lions as an underdog, I still like Minnesota, defense is still very good and Zimmer is miles better as a coach than Caldwell. The Stafford for MVP talk silences after this week.
Philadelphia at NY Giants (-2.5)
I still like that Eagles defense and I am not sold on the Giants being able to have any type of ground game, which will let the Eagles tee off on Eli.
Dallas at Cleveland (+7)
Everyone and their brother loves Dallas and I do too… but I don’t love them by 7 points on the road, especially with a big game vs the Steelers coming up next week.
NY Jets at Miami (-3.5)
Jets defense can still stop the run and that’s about all Miami can do. Tannehill still looks like a bust and I think the Jets pull off the upset.
Pittsburgh at Baltimore (+1)
I think Big Ben plays… so I am going to go with the Steelers. Probably would take them even with Landry Jones playing.
New Orleans at San Francisco (+4.5)
Normally this is another hold your nose and take the terrible team at home pick. However, this one is closer for me than the Dallas game because I think San Fran is awful with Kaepernick at QB, like won’t win a game for the rest of the season awful.
Carolina at Los Angeles (+3)
Rams looking like 7-9 just like we all thought. Carolina I think had their “save the season” game last week vs Arizona, this has let down written all over it.
Indianapolis at Green Bay (-7.5)
Packers have to have this game and I think going against Pagano, who is one of the worst coaches in the league will be a huge help. Even though they lost, Rodgers looked like he was onto something last week, which is super encouraging. I know that 7.5 is a ton vs Luck, but I think GB plays a great game at home on Sunday.
Tennessee at San Diego (-5) ***Best Bet***
If it is low scoring I think that the Titans have a chance, but San Diego is averaging almost 30 a game and I think that is too much for the Titans’ offense to score.
Sunday Night Football
Denver at Oakland (-1)
Horrible defense vs one of the best defenses in the league. I am going to take that great defense almost every time. I am not an Oakland believer, their best win of the year has been at Tennessee in week 3, not impressed.
Monday Night Football
Buffalo at Seattle (-7)
7 points are too much for a Seattle offense that can’t protect their QB and I don’t expect an aggressive Buffalo offensive game plan either. Most likely the team that wins the game will win it because the other team makes mistakes. Cliché I know, but also makes you feel good about getting 7 points.
Bills Games (3-5 YTD)
Best Bet (3-4-1 YTD)
Last week (5-7-1)
– Jon Ramsey (@YardsPerPass)