With nine weeks already in the books, the NFL season has crossed the midway point.
As teams such as the Philadelphia Eagles, Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, and Baltimore Ravens have clearly separated themselves from the pack as potential Super Bowl contenders, there are also several teams already turning an eye towards 2024 and beyond, driven by the allure of USC quarterback Caleb Williams as their own losses mount through the season's first half.
Meanwhile, presumed favorites such as the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills are fighting through injuries that have the potential to derail their promising seasons and surprise contenders have emerged in Houston, Pittsburgh, and in the form of the always plucky Minnesota Vikings.
All of this is happening with the backdrop of some standout individual performances.
Before the NFL season rounds into its second half, here's a look at our midseason awards; the players who would win NFL MVP, Offensive and Defensive Player of The Year, Offensive and Defensive Rookie of The Year honors, and the coach of the year, if the season ended today:
MVP: Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have been on a mission in recent weeks, and Lamar Jackson continues to find ways to guide Baltimore to critical victories, while playing some of the best football of his career.
Through the season's first nine weeks, Jackson's 71.5 completion percentage leads all NFL quarterbacks as the 26-year-old has made significant strides as a passer this season. Perhaps most impressive about Jackson's fast start to the 2023 campaign is the fact that he is now consistently using his legs and escapability to create opportunities downfield vertically in the passing game. In addition to his 1,954 passing yards with nine touchdowns to just three interceptions, Jackson leads all quarterbacks with 440 rushing yards and five more scores. Jackson is improving by leaps and bounds each week in Todd Monken's scheme, and the Ravens' investment at wide receiver around their franchise quarterback is paying massive dividends.
Other top candidates: Jalen Hurts, QB, Philadelphia Eagles, Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs, Christian McCaffrey, RB, San Francisco 49ers, Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Miami Dolphins, Tyreek Hill, WR, Miami Dolphins
Offensive Player of The Year: Tyreek Hill, WR, Miami Dolphins
By season's end, Tyreek Hill might rewrite the NFL record book.
As the star attraction on the NFL's most prolific and dynamic offense, Hill has caught 69 receptions for 1,076 yards and eight touchdowns as quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's favorite target and most dangerous weapon. There's a legitimate chance Hill leaves the single-season record of 1,964 receiving yards in his dust, like the defensive backs he's made a habit of burning each Sunday afternoon. So far, Hill accounts for 21.6 percent of the Dolphins' offensive touchdowns, and is a threat to score every time he touches the football. While Miami is going to need to prove it can beat a winning team if it is going to make a legitimate run at the Super Bowl, it's impossible to ignore Hill's production and how meaningful he is to one of the league's most explosive offenses this season.
Other Top Candidates: Jalen Hurts, QB, Philadelphia Eagles, Christian McCaffrey, RB, San Francisco 49ers,, A.J. Brown, WR, Philadelphia Eagles, Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
Defensive Player of The Year: Maxx Crosby, EDGE, Las Vegas Raiders
Few players in the league generate pressure as consistently and disruptively as Maxx Crosby.
Crosby has been a one-man game-wrecking crew for the Raiders this season. Through nine weeks, Crosby has produced 9.5 sacks while adding three more quarterback hits and 53 total pressures. Beyond being a quarterback's nightmare, Crosby also excels at setting the edge and stopping the run while rushing the passer. Already with a pair of multi-sack games this season, Crosby has also logged 13 tackles for loss, while almost singlehandedly powering the Raiders' win over the Green Bay Packers. This has been a career-year for Crosby, so far, who has also been instrumental in the Raiders' success defensively this season.
Other Top Candidates: T.J. Watt, EDGE, Pittsburgh Steelers, Micah Parsons, EDGE, Dallas Cowboys, Nick Bosa, EDGE, San Francisco 49ers, Myles Garrett, EDGE, Cleveland Browns, Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Detroit Lions
Offensive Rookie of The Year: C.J. Stroud, QB, Houston Texans
It has only been nine weeks into his career, but C.J. Stroud looks the part of an elite franchise quarterback.
Stroud's signature performance came against the Buccaneers, when the No. 2 overall pick in this spring's draft passed for 475 yards with five touchdowns, including leading a methodical six-play, 75-yard drive in the final 46 seconds of regulation capped by tossing the game-winning touchdown to lift Houston back to .500. Arguably the truest sign of a top quarterback is his ability to elevate his weapons, and Stroud has turned Nico Collins and fellow rookie Tank Dell into top receivers. The former Ohio State standout has completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,270 yards with 14 touchdowns to just one interception. Houston is ahead of schedule, and looks like a playoff caliber operation, largely because of Stroud's immediate impact.
Other Top Candidates: Puka Nacua, WR, Los Angeles Rams, Tank Dell, WR, Houston Texans, Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Detroit Lions, Jordan Addison, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Defensive Rookie of The Year: Jalen Carter, DL, Philadelphia Eagles
Even along the Eagles' dominant defensive line, Jalen Carter has managed to play meaningful snaps while making a meaningful impact this season.
Already showing all the trappings of an elite run-stuffer, and space-eater, along the middle of the Eagles' defensive line, Carter has already carded 4.0 sacks while producing an 87.9 pass-rush grade from Pro Football Focus. Beyond his impact on the stat sheet, Carter has made a habit week in and week out of bursting through double-teams to create havoc in the backfield or take on additional blockers to free up the Eagles' rushers to make plays behind the line of scrimmage. If the first nine weeks of his career are any indication, Carter looks like a centerpiece of the Eagles' defense for years to come, with perennial All-Pro potential.
Other Top Candidates: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Seattle Seahawks, Joey Porter Jr., CB, Pittsburgh Steelers, Will Anderson, EDGE Houston, Brian Branch, S, Detroit Lions
Coach of The Year: Dan Campbell, Detroit Lions
The insurgent Detroit Lions are in the midst of one of the franchise's most exciting seasons in recent memory, and look fully capable of making a run at representing the NFC in the Super Bowl.
Thanks to a dominant and versatile ground game, dynamic field stretching receivers and an impact rookie tight end fueling the offense, and a relentless pass-rush from the front seven, defensively, Detroit has been nightmare fuel for opponents so far this season. Anytime you watch a Lions game, it's easy to see that this team embodies the relentlessly competitive nature of its head coach, Dan Campbell, who has not just got his players to buy in but is getting the most of the talent assembled on the roster. Campbell has been involved in every step of the roster building process in the Detroit, and it shows. This has the potential to be a dangerous team for years to come, but this year, Campbell's impact cannot be downplayed.
Other Top Candidates: DeMeco Ryans, Houston Texans, Mike McDaniel, Miami Dolphins, Zac Taylor, Cincinnati Bengals, Doug Pederson, Jacksonville Jaguars
Want More Sports News?
Get the biggest and best sports news sent directly to your inbox.