Stats as of Week 9, article originally written Nov. 3.
The unofficial first half of the 2015 NFL season has come to a close, and there has been a lot to talk about thus far. One of the main topics of conversation for every football fan at this juncture is which players have proven themselves worthy of certain end-of-season honors, such as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) and Rookie of the Year awards.
There have been a handful of players so far this season that I believe have proven they are worthy of the MVP honor.
One is Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. The fifth-year starter has led the Bengals to a surprising undefeated record so far, something nobody was predicting heading into the season. Dalton’s 18 touchdown passes ties him for seventh-best in the league, and he is making good use of his weapons, wide receiver A.J. Green and tight end Tyler Eifert.
Although Dalton’s numbers might not qualify him for elite status, he has shown so far this season that he can lead Cincinnati down the winning path, most recently in a 31-10 shellacking of the AFC North-rival Cleveland Browns on Nov. 5.
Another strong MVP candidate this year is Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer. Coming back from a torn ACL he suffered last season, Palmer looks sharp as ever leading the Cardinals to an impressive 6-2 start. He ranks fifth in the NFL in passing yards with 2,386, and is second in the league with 20 touchdown passes.
Palmer’s play has helped to prove that the Cardinals are a “real-deal contender”, as some identified them heading into the season. The 35-year-old quarterback has also aided the resurgence of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who has responded impressively from a lackluster 2014 season.
This leads me to who I believe is the MVP so far this season. Although the answer might seem cliché, there is no question that Tom Brady has been the most valuable player up to this point. Brady has led the New England Patriots to an 8-0 start and has thrown for a league-best 22 touchdowns to only two interceptions.
Despite all of the controversy in the offseason surrounding his involvement with “Deflategate,” Brady has shown that he is still the best quarterback in the league, and maybe even the best quarterback of all time. He continues to make Julian Edelman, who would be a mediocre receiver on any other team, look like a star. Also, the combination of Brady and Rob Gronkowski is one of the deadliest in the league.
Aside from MVP, I believe I know who should be the Rookie of the Year. In my opinion, and there is no competition here, St. Louis Rams running back Todd Gurley deserves this award.
After missing the first two games of the season, Gurley had a string of four-straight games with over 100 yards rushing, a feat not matched by a rookie since the Indianapolis Colts’ Edgerrin James in 1999, according to The Associated Press. He has accomplished this behind a very-average Rams offensive line.
If Gurley can continue with this level of production, then the future looks bright for St. Louis.
It will be interesting to see how the second half of the year unfolds. Are these players the real deal for the MVP and Rookie of the Year awards, or will other players rise to the occasion and come away with the honors?
Disclaimer: The opinions of this author do not reflect those of The Whit.
Featured image: Flickr user hyku (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons