NFL Midseason Awards: Kyler Murray Is the MVP and Other Honors

The NFL regular season is halfway done, so it’s time to dole out some faux hardware. There are plenty of games left for things to change, and they will, but these are the people that have impressed the most so far. Odds courtesy of DraftKings on Nov. 11.

MVP: QB Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

Current odds: +650

Betting favorite: Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The three main candidates were Murray, Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford, and the Cardinals’ dual-threat signal-caller won by a whisker. Murray leads the NFL in yards per attempt at 8.9 and the Cardinals’ pass offense is No. 2 in the NFL in efficiency, according to Football Outsiders. Murray leads the league in big-time-throw percentage at 9.0 and has the second-lowest turnover-worthy-play percentage at 1.3, according to Pro Football Focus. His Completion Percentage Over Expectation of 6.9 is second-best in the NFL behind Russell Wilson, while Brady and Stafford are close to league average. There is one other key variable that is hard to quantify — Murray’s rushing ability on zone reads forces a box defender to hesitate on handoffs, which is a boon to the Arizona ground game. Brady and Stafford pose no such threat.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: WR Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals

Current odds: -140

Betting favorite: Chase

The No. 5 overall pick in the draft has been phenomenal this season. Chase has 44 catches for 835 yards and seven touchdowns. He is third in the league in yardage, third in yards per reception and fourth in yards per target. The Bengals have surpassed expectations this season behind the strength of their passing game, and the connection between Chase and Joe Burrow is a big reason why. There were five quarterbacks taken in the first round this year, and while New England’s Mac Jones has been the best of the bunch, he’s been about league average while Chase has established himself as a star.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: DE Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys

Current odds: -120

Betting favorite: Parsons

Parsons was drafted as an inside linebacker but has quickly shown his pass-rushing prowess. The No. 12 overall pick has five sacks this season and has combined for 21 tackles, seven tackles for loss, four quarterback hits and 2.5 sacks in his past two games. Parsons is a big favorite, although there is one longshot that could enter the mix down the stretch: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. The Browns linebacker was playing really well before getting injured and is set to return to the field soon.

Comeback Player of the Year: QB Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

Current odds: +750

Betting favorite: Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

This one was between Burrow and Prescott. Both have been impressive in their return from season-ending injuries, but Burrow gets the slight nod here. He is second in the NFL with an average of 8.7 yards per pass attempt despite playing behind an offensive line that is No. 22 in pass-block grading, per Pro Football Focus. Prescott has the better offensive line, more experience and better weapons, which is why Burrow’s season has thus far been more impressive. Prescott is currently the heavy favorite to win the award at the end of the year, but don’t count out Burrow, who has his team in the thick of the AFC playoff race.

Offensive Player of the Year: WR Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers

Current odds: +1800

Betting favorite: Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams

Adams has solidified himself as the best wideout in the NFL. He has 58 catches for 786 yards and three touchdowns in eight games this season despite everyone on the planet knowing Aaron Rodgers is going to feed him. Adams has the highest Pro Football Focus grade among wide receivers at 91.6 as he really has no weakness. Cooper Kupp has better statistical numbers this season, with a gaudy 74 catches for 1,109 yards and 10 touchdowns, but faces inferior cornerbacks in the slot. Adams always gets the opposing team’s best cover man and still manages to produce at an elite rate, making him the pick for OPOY.

Defensive Player of the Year: DE Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns

Current odds: +300

Betting favorite: Garrett

Garrett leads the NFL with 12 sacks, and Pro Football Focus actually has him credited with 14 based on tape review. Garrett leads the NFL in PFF’s pressure grade and had 26 quarterback hurries and eight hits in addition to the sacks. T.J. Watt and Aaron Donald have also been menaces, so it’s not a runaway by any means, but Garrett has been an elite edge-rusher this season, which is an incredibly valuable commodity in the NFL.

Coach of the Year: Kliff Kingsbury, Cardinals

Current odds: +450

Betting favorite: Kingsbury

The Cardinals were projected to win eight games this season and have already reached that total at the midway point. Kingsbury has the Cardinals’ offense humming, putting Murray in a terrific situation to succeed every week. Kingsbury’s best coaching job of the season came on Sunday when the Cardinals went on the road and blasted the 49ers despite the absence of Murray, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and defensive end J.J. Watt. The Cardinals were not expected to be among the Super Bowl front-runners this season, but Kingsbury has them in that conversation.

Executive of the Year: GM Les Snead, Rams

Snead’s philosophy is no secret. He is willing to trade valuable draft picks for established talent, and it’s hard to argue with the results. Matthew Stafford has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL  after the Rams acquired him from the Lions this offseason. Snead bolstered the defense midseason by adding star edge rusher Von Miller, and the pairing of Miller and Aaron Donald could be huge in the playoffs. The Rams might have some issues down the road after trading away so many draft picks, but this is their championship window, and Snead is aggressively pushing in his chips.

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