Home NFL 2019 NFL Midseason Awards, Super Bowl picks: Packers, Aaron Rodgers emerge as viable Super Bowl, MVP threats – CBS Sports

2019 NFL Midseason Awards, Super Bowl picks: Packers, Aaron Rodgers emerge as viable Super Bowl, MVP threats – CBS Sports

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The NFL season doesn’t end on Halloween. So much can and will change between now and February. Half the season still remains. But based on the first half of the season alone, Aaron Rodgers might be on his way to winning MVP again, the Packers could be on a path that leads to the Super Bowl, and Rodgers might be celebrating that Super Bowl with another Super Bowl MVP award. At the very least, at the halfway point of the season, that’s what many of the NFL writers here at CBS Sports think will happen come February.

Welcome to our midseason look at all the major awards, where seven CBS Sports NFL writers celebrated the midseason mark of the season by updating their preseason and quarterly predictions. A lot has changed since the last time we checked in after Week 4. A quarter into the season, Mahomes was the near-unanimous pick for regular-season MVP, Shaq Barrett was the near-unanimous pick for Defensive Player of the Year, and the Chiefs were the most popular Super Bowl pick, just ahead of the Patriots. Four weeks later, Mahomes is no longer in consideration for MVP due to the knee injury that has caused an extended absence, Barrett didn’t receive a single vote for DPOY, and the Chiefs are suddenly tied with the Packers — not the Patriots! — as the most popular Super Bowl pick. Perhaps more surprising is that Rodgers, who got off to such a slow start that he failed to garner a single MVP vote after Week 4, earned as many MVP votes as Russell Wilson.

Below, you’ll see all of our picks for the following nine categories: 

  1. Super Bowl winner
  2. Super Bowl MVP
  3. Regular season MVP
  4. Defensive Player of the Year
  5. Offensive Player of the Year 
  6. Offensive Rookie of the Year
  7. Defensive Rookie of the Year 
  8. Coach of the Year 
  9. Comeback Player of the Year 

And here’s the panel of voters:

Onto the picks.

Super Bowl champion

La Canfora: New Orleans Saints

Best team and about to get their starting RB and TE back after the bye, right after getting their starting QB back and going unbeaten with their backup.

Prisco: Green Bay Packers

This is a passers and pass rushers league. They have both and I like the way Aaron Rodgers is playing in the new offense.

Brinson: Minnesota Vikings

Not going to sway from my original pick when they’re playing some good football. Minnesota’s defense looks above average, Kirk Cousins has calmed the critics and the Vikings should be playoff bound. Now he just has to win a bunch of big games in a row 😥.

Dubin: New England Patriots

This New England defense is the best of the Bill Belichick era. They are essentially turning every opposing quarterback into Nathan Peterman. It’s insane. I can’t in my right mind pick anybody to beat them right now. 

Breech: Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs were my preseason pick and as long as they’re mathematically alive, I feel obligated to stay with them, and that’s mainly because I wouldn’t be able to look at myself in a mirror if I changed my pick now. That being said, the Patriots are my backup pick if Patrick Mahomes’ knee injury continues to linger. 

Wilson: Green Bay Packers

After an uneven start Aaron Rodgers looks to be back on track, playing like a Hall of Famer and putting the Packers offense on his shoulders even with Davante Adams sidelined. If that young, physical defense continues to improve Green Bay could find themselves in the Super Bowl for the first time since the  2010.

Wagner-McGough: Kansas City Chiefs

I picked them before the season, so I can’t really move away from them when they’re comfortably in first place in the AFC West and should be getting healthy in the coming weeks. There’s no doubt the Patriots are the best team in football. But the Chiefs have the best player in football in Patrick Mahomes, who is great enough to stun the Patriots come January.

Super Bowl MVP

La Canfora: Drew Brees

This is how it goes. Especially if he has to slay the relentless Patriots defense to get his second Lombardi.

Prisco: Aaron Rodgers 

The Packers will win because of him. The LaFleur-Rodgers rift was laughable then and even more so when he wins it.

Brinson: Dalvin Cook 

I just think this guy is playing some of the best football out there right now. He’s definitely an OPOY candidate and a borderline MVP candidate as well. He showed in college he could get stronger as the season wore on. If he stays healthy I could see him being a beast in the playoffs.

Dubin: Tom Brady

It’s always the quarterback. 

Breech: Patrick Mahomes

If the Chiefs win the Super Bowl, there’s a 99.8 percent chance that Mahomes is going to be named the MVP, and that 99.8 percent chance moves up to 100 percent if he breaks every Super Bowl passing record ever, which seems like something he’s completely capable of doing.

Wilson: Aaron Rodgers

If the Packers are going to beat the Patriots it’s going to come down to Rodgers. No offense to Matt LaFleur, but we saw what Bill Belichick did to Sean McVay last February. The great equalizer will be Rodgers, who will have to be the best player on the field for Green Bay to have a chance. 

Wagner-McGough: Patrick Mahomes

The quarterback always wins. If the Chiefs win the Super Bowl, it won’t be because of their defense. It’ll be because of Mahomes.

Regular season MVP

La Canfora: Russell Wilson 

Will end up leading league in TD passes and wills his team to victory most weeks while making crazy plays. Mahomes injury a factor here.

Prisco: Aaron Rodgers  

The beat rolls on. He will lead his team with a monster season that is just starting to hit stride.

Brinson: Aaron Rodgers

There will be an anti-stats narrative surrounding Rodgers, which might serve to only bolster his status among voters. If the Packers end up with 13 or 14 wins and Rodgers plays well over the next two months, this award is his to lose.

Dubin: Russell Wilson

Wilson is off to the best start of his career. He leads the NFL in touchdown passes, interception rate, passer rating, and fourth-quarter comebacks. He’s got his team that was almost universally expected to take a step backward, sitting at 6-2. He’s balling.

Breech: Aaron Rodgers

I thought about putting Russell Wilson or Deshaun Watson there, but both players have to play a brutal schedule down the stretch, which is why I’m now jumping on Rodgers’ bandwagon. The Packers quarterback has looked like an MVP candidate even though he’s played the past few games without his favorite target, Davante Adams.

Wilson: Lamar Jackson

We’ve been saying it for weeks but in 2-3 years we could be talking about Jackson as the best player in the league. He’s shown glimpses this season, and more importantly, he’s shown significant improvement from his rookie campaign.

Wagner-McGough: Russell Wilson

He’s the leader right now. Mahomes is hurt, Aaron Rodgers got off to a slow start (which matters), and Lamar Jackson is a little too inconsistent. The biggest threat to Wilson might be Deshaun Watson, but I think Wilson is too consistent to blow the lead he built in the first half of the season.

Defensive Player of the Year

La Canfora: Stephon Gilmore

The best player on a record-setting secondary that is on pace for like 36 picks.

Prisco: Nobody Stephon Gilmore

There isn’t a dominant player this year, but I will go with Stephon Gilmore, the corner for the Patriots. He is a shut-down player on the best defense.

Brinson: Cameron Jordan

Quietly playing some incredible football right now. Myles Garrett has an easy schedule so I wouldn’t rule him out, but Jordan is deserving of this award at midseason and a strong close by the Saints (hello Falcons games!) could push him towards winning it.

Dubin: Stephon Gilmore

I admit, it’s difficult to see this award going to a defensive back. But eventually the evidence becomes overwhelming. Gilmore shuts down everyone

Breech: Nick Bosa

The 49ers have been a surprise team through the first half of the season, and a big part of that is due to the play of their defense. Bosa has helped revitalize a unit that had mostly struggled over the past two years. I was torn on this award until Week 8 when I saw Bosa rack up three sacks and an interception against the Cardinals. 

Wilson: Myles Garrett

We talked all offseason about how Baker Mayfield will be the one to lead the Browns back to the playoffs for the first time since 2002 but maybe it will be Garrett, who is currently playing more like a first-overall pick than the franchise QB. Garrett is just about unblockable one-on-one, and he can take over games, which the Browns will need more of to get back on track.

Wagner-McGough: Stephon Gilmore

Am I skeptical the voters will reward a defensive back who doesn’t necessarily have a high interception total? Definitely. But Gilmore is the league’s best cornerback on the league’s best defense and team. According to Pro Football Focus, opposing quarterbacks have accumulated a 36.0 passer rating when targeting him. 

Offensive Player of the Year

La Canfora: Christian McCaffrey

Scrimmage yards after scrimmage yards after scrimmage yards. He is a beast and doesn’t leave the field.

Prisco: Christian McCaffrey

He might not get 1,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving yards, but he’s on pace to go over 2,000 yards from scrimmage.

Brinson: Christian McCaffrey

CMC deserves MVP discussion because he keeps piling up numbers. He’s on pace for more than 2,400 scrimmage yards this season. He makes this offense go and keeps the Panthers competitive. 

Dubin: Christian McCaffrey

The best dual threat in the league, McCaffrey is on pace for 1,680 rushing yards, 735 receiving yards, and TWENTY THREE total touchdowns. And he’s mostly played alongside a backup quarterback. 

Breech: Dalvin Cook

Not only does Cook currently lead the NFL in rushing, but the Vikings running back is on pace for nearly 1650 rushing yards, which would be the highest total the league has seen since 2014. The Vikings love to run the ball, which means if Cook can stay healthy, his number should only get more impressive down the stretch.

Wilson: Christian McCaffrey

McCaffrey leads the Panthers in both rushing yards and receptions, and without him this team would be lucky to have two wins. If Cam Newton can get healthy, he and McCaffrey will be the reason Carolina makes a second-half playoff push.

Wagner-McGough: Christian McCaffrey

No one has carried their offense more than CMC. While Kyle Allen deserves a ton of credit for keeping the Panthers afloat without Cam Newton, he wouldn’t have been able to do so without CMC, who is on pace for 2,464 yards from scrimmage. The single-season record is 2,509.

Offensive Rookie of the Year 

La Canfora: Gardner Minshew

Looks like the real deal to me and the numbers and weekly awards don’t lie.

Prisco: Gardner Minshew

This is based on his staying in as the starter. He’s been the best rookie so far.

Brinson: Kyler Murray

This could swing any number of different ways. But voters lean QB typically and Kyler has played very well in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. I wouldn’t be surprised if this got a little derailed over the course of their tough division schedule down the stretch, but anything north of five wins might get it for him.

Dubin: Gardner Minshew

Minshew has 13 touchdown passes and just two picks. He’s averaging 7.6 yards per attempt. His passer rating is better than that of Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Lamar Jackson, and Carson Wentz, among others. You could make a case for Kyler Murray or Josh Jacobs or Terry McLaurin, but a sixth-round rookie quarterback providing his team with above-average play at the game’s most important position is going to get my vote almost every time.

Breech: Gardner Minshew 

Kyler Murray might seem like the obvious choice, but I like Minshew and that’s because he has a shot to do something that Murray definitely won’t be doing this year: Lead his team to the playoffs. As a matter of fact, I might grow a mustache if Minshew does get the Jags into the postseason. Minshew Mania has taken over in Jacksonville, and I’ll be shocked if the Jags decide to bench once Nick Foles is healthy.

Wilson: Gardner Minshew

Minshew came out of nowhere. He was an afterthought at the Senior Bowl, didn’t get drafted until Day 3, and wasn’t expected to see the field at all until Nick Foles went down.  The only question is if the Jags will return to Foles once he’s healthy or continue to roll with Minshew, who proved in a short period of time that he’s a legit NFL quarterback.

Wagner-McGough: Gardner Minshew

I wrote about him at length in my Week 9 edition of quarterback power rankings. He’s established himself as the Jaguars’ franchise quarterback. And he’s been better than Murray, at least so far. 

Defensive Rookie of the Year

La Canfora:  Nick Bosa 

Not sure this one is even going to be close. He plays on a beastly unit is going to put up huge sack numbers.

Prisco: Nick Bosa

But it’s close. Josh Allen of the Jaguars has as many sacks and more pressures, but Bosa gets the edge right now.

Brinson: Nick Bosa

He could easily be involved in the Defensive PLAYER of the Year conversation, but for right now it’s hard to pass on what Bosa is doing with the 49ers DL. Josh Allen and Brian Burns are very much in the mix right now too.

Dubin: Nick Bosa

Nobody else is even in the conversation. Bosa could easily be in the discussion for Defensive Player of the Year.

Breech: Nick Bosa

That’s right, not only do I have Bosa winning the Defensive Player of the Year award, but I also have him taking home the Rookie of the Year award. If Bosa were to pull that off, he’d become just the second player in NFL history to accomplish that, joining Lawrence Taylor, who pulled it off back in 1981

Wilson: Nick Bosa 

Bosa may have missed most of his junior season at Ohio State last year but he’s looked like a perennial All-Pro since stepping on the field in San Francisco. He’s the most dangerous cog in one of the league’s best defenses and he’s coming off his best performance last week against the Panthers.

Wagner-McGough: Nick Bosa

What more needs to be said? It’s so unanimous that I have to change my preseason pick even though my preseason pick, Josh Allen of the Jaguars, has been stellar with seven sacks.

Coach of the Year

La Canfora: Bill Belichick

That defense is not overloaded with studs. What it is doing is historic. That is Belichick’s baby.

Prisco: Sean Payton

To navigate through losing Drew Brees by winning all of his games is outstanding. He is the best play-caller in the league.

Brinson: Sean Payton/Frank Reich

I’m picking a tie at midseason because both guys deserve love for working with an unexpected QB situation. Payton went undefeated with Teddy Bridgewater as a starter and Reich has his team at the top of the AFC South despite Andrew Luck retiring. 

Dubin: Bill Belichick

This defense is his magnum opus. 

Breech: Sean Payton

I feel like you could make a strong case for multiple coaches here, including Bill Belichick, Frank Reich, Matt LaFleur and Kyle Shanahan, but I’m going to go with Payton, because there’s a good chance his team is going to earn a first-round bye even though he lost his starting quarterback for five weeks. The only reason I didn’t put Reich here is because I’m still not convinced the Colts are going to win that division. 

Wilson: Sean Payton

Payton lost Drew Brees early in the season and for the next five weeks he had to fashion an offense around Teddy Bridgewater. The Saints offense went 5-0, including victories in Seattle, Jacksonville and Chicago, and at home against the Cowboys. That’s remarkable

Wagner-McGough: Bill Belichick

If the award was actually given to the best coach, Belichick would win every season. Because the award is not given out to the best coach, I suspect Sean Payton will win because of how he navigated an extremely difficult portion of the season with a backup quarterback. But Belichick deserves to win. What he’s doing with this defense is worthy of recognition and remember, he’s lost his top defensive assistant after each of the past two seasons.

Comeback Player of the Year

La Canfora: Dalvin Cook

Finally healthy and running wild week after week.

Prisco: Cooper Kupp

He came off a major knee injury to be even better than he was before it. He is the go-to guy in the Rams offense.

Brinson: Jacoby Brissett 

I don’t even know what he’s coming back from (the bench??) but I’m giving him the award anyway because I want to give the guy some national recognition and there’s too much HEAT in the MVP race.

Dubin: Cooper Kupp

This guy is somehow better post-ACL tear than he was before. He was not just ready for the start of the season, but is now the obvious best player on what was considered one of the NFL’s most stacked offenses. Eight games into the year, he’s on pace for a 116-1584-10 season. That’s been done only seven times in NFL history. The guys who have done it: Antonio Brown (twice), Torry Holt, Marvin Harrison, Isaac Bruce, Herman Moore, and Jerry Rice. That’s it.

Breech: Cooper Kupp

After missing eight games last season due to an ACL tear, not only has Kupp rebounded back from the injury, but he’s one of the top receivers in the NFL this year. Kupp is currently tied for the second most receiving yards (792) in the NFL while also being tied for the second highest receiving touchdown total (5). 

Wilson: Cooper Kupp 

Kupp missed the second half of the 2018 season after suffering a torn ACL. Through eight games this season he has 18 more receptions than a year ago (58 to 40), 226 more yards (792 to 566) and one fewer touchdown (5 to 6). He’s again one of Jared Goff’s most reliable targets and that will only continue.

Wagner-McGough: Cooper Kupp

It’s probably time to acknowledge that Kupp is more than just the Rams’ best receiver, but also one of the league’s best receivers. The fact that he’s doing this after his 2018 season ended with a torn ACL is that much more impressive.

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