We have made it through the first eight weeks of the 2020 NFL season and it’s time to hand out some trophies (not literally of course, since we have to wait until the year is over).
I already did this when I predicted the entire NFL season about a week before we kicked things off and a lot of the candidates I mentioned back then, you will hear again, but at the same time, some guys have kind of come out of nowhere. For some of these categories, three names were enough, while for a few others I mentioned two more notables.
So who have been my NFL MVP, Defensive Player and Coach of the Year, among others, for the first half of the season? Plus, at the bottom I added my NFL All-Pro teams at this point.
Also, make sure to check out my detailed recap of NFL Week 8.
NFL Most Valuable Player
I think three candidates have kind of separated themselves from the rest of the pack in this NFL MVP discussion and the guy I have at the top has been there all season long, because no other player in the NFL has been more valuable to his team and their success.
1. Russell Wilson (QB, Seattle Seahawks)
I have always said Wilson is one of the premiere quarterbacks in the NFL and that the only thing holding him back from quite putting up the same numbers other MVP candidates have produced is his own coaching staff and the conservative he plays in.
Well, this year Brian Schottenheimer and company have finally listened to Seahawks fans screaming to “let Russ cook” and he has been smoking hot.
Russ is top three in the NFL in completion percentage (71.5%) and yards per attempt (8.4) and yards per game (307.3), leads the NFL with a passer rating of 120.8 and 26 touchdown passes, which makes up for more than one TD every 10th attempt – also an NFL-best mark. And the crazy part is that his team has needed him to be that explosive, since Seattle’s defense has given up an average of 460.9 yards per game – easily the most of any team in the league.
The Seahawks themselves are scoring an NFL-best 34.3 points per game and their season-low (!) 27 points came in a matchup, where he led one of his two game-winning drives on the season (versus Minnesota). He is also the only quarterback with multiple starts to not have lost a fumble all season long. The only blemish on Wilson’s resume and the Hawks lone loss came at Arizona in a Sunday Night game, where their quarterback threw three of his six interceptions on the year and that was his only performance in which he had a passer rating below 100.
However in that game, he lit up the Cardinals with the deep ball and made some incredible plays throughout the night. And if you break down the three picks he threw, two of them came by defenders who had to cover a ton of ground and no quarterback would have anticipated them to even be a factor, while on that third one D.K. slowed down for a back-shoulder throw The Seahawks put 35 points on the Patriots, 31 against the Dolphins number-one scoring defense and just now 37 against San Francisco – and it could easily been more if the came wasn’t completely out of hand in the fourth quarter.
2. Patrick Mahomes (QB, Kansas City Chiefs)
I know Mahomes has five TD passes less than Russ despite having played one more game, but he also only has one interception on the year – and that one came when he pushed it downfield on a 4th and long towards the end of the Chiefs’ only loss on the season.
He is also behind only Wilson in quarterback rating (115.0) and first in QBR (86.8), with the latter thanks to what he has done taking off when nothing is there, which he has really gotten great at once he sees 2-man or other favorable situations. Of the 34 times he has taken off, nine have resulted in first downs and he finished in the end zone twice.
Of course this is still about Mahomes and Kansas City trashing opposing teams with all those weapons in the passing game. With defenses playing a lot more soft coverage against the Chiefs, Mahomes has taken advantage underneath with those short completions, while still finding ways to allow his receivers to uncover on secondary routes and getting the ball to them from all different angles. So his intended air yards may not be overly impressive, because of all the screens and stuff they draw up, and he might “only” be sixth in the NFL in yards per attempt, but Pat is still tied for first with 31 passes of 20+ yards.
He absolutely picked apart the Ravens defense in that huge Monday Night showdown, which tried every coverage and blitz package imaginable and the quarterback had an answer for all of them, completing some throws nobody in the league could make.
The Chiefs’ season-low in points (23) came at the Chargers, when he certainly didn’t start out great, but still found a way to lead a comeback and win in overtime. And even in their only loss of the season against the Raiders, it was the opposing offense converting a sneak on fourth down, that denied Mahomes a chance to finish their late push.
3. Aaron Rodgers (QB, Green Bay Packers)
When you look at Rodgers’ most impressive statistic for his NFL career it is his ridiculous touchdown-to-interception ratio of 4.47, which is a full point better than the NFL's next-closest guy (Russell Wilson) and twice as good as anybody that hasn’t played in the 2010’s.
Well, right now he has the second-best rate for this season, behind only Patrick Mahomes at 20-2, and those two picks came in his only bad game at Tampa Bay.
I’m not going to sugarcoat this in any way – after going up 10-0 and once that pass-rush from the Bucs was unleashed, he could not get anything going. With that being said, he has been phenomenal in the six other contests, having throw less than 3 TDs in only of them and his lowest QB rating being at 107.6, with both of those thing coming against Detroit in week two, when the Packers just didn’t need him to crazy and still put up 42 points, as Aaron Jones got loose on multiple occasions.
And Rodgers had not fumbled until that very last play we saw from him, as he was stripped from behind while trying to launch a Hail Mary at the end of the Vikings game. By the way, he was incredible in that loss as well, as the only two times the offense was stopped, Equanimeous St. Brown had consecutive passes go off his hands and then the refs for no apparent reason picked up the flag on a blatant pass interference against Robert Tonyan inside the red-zone.
Rodgers leads the NFL with seven completions of 40+ yards and right now Drew Lock is the only starter in the NFL with a higher mark in yards beyond the sticks (0.9) – which when you look at the rest of the numbers isn’t always an endorsement for the second-year QB, as Lock has three more INTs on 100 less attempts.
And outside of Davante Adams – who has missed some time – Rodgers hasn’t really been able to rely on any of his receivers, as they are tied for the most passes dropped at 18, even though the other two NFL QBs with that number have played one more game than Green Bay.
Notables: Josh Allen & Tom Brady