Thursday, November 21, 2013

If It Ain't Steel's 2013 NFL Not-So-Midseason Reports, MVP and Super Bowl Predictions

by Jayden and Jason
The NFL season is now past the midway point and we at If It Ain’t Steel are once again throwing our two cents in to the 'midseason awards and predictions' hat.

(Aside: We were down for approximately two weeks and missed getting this out after Week 9 or 10 at the latest. The choices, though, are no different now from what they were a week ago.)

Week 11 is in the books and we're now at a crucial point for a lot teams. It's the time of year when the cream rises to the top individually and as teams are concerned. 

Without further ado, let's just get into the midseason awards and predictions for 2013. We'll start off with...

Comeback Player of the Year: Running Back LeSean McCoy, Eagles, or Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, Ravens - McCoy leads the league in rushing yards (1,009), averaging 4.7 yards per carry, and in total yards from scrimmage (1,408), touching the ball 247 times, all of this after missing four games and only rushing for 840 yards last season.

But If It Ain't Steel's choice for the midseason winner and the season-award prediction is Terrell Suggs. Suggs suffered a partially torn Achilles tendon requiring surgery in the Spring of 2012, sidelining him for the first six games of the season and causing him to miss a total of eight games. He was largely ineffective and finished the season with just two sacks

Fast forward to 2013 and a fully recovered Suggs is wreaking havoc once again. He is tied for 6th in the NFL in sacks with nine (in 10 games) and has 65 tackles, which is 26 more than the NFL sack leader Robert Mathis - keep that name in mind for later.

Coach of the Year: Andy Reid, Chiefs - Andy Reid is the only one in the discussion. The one-loss Chiefs have already improved upon its win total from 2012 of 2-14. The NFL record for win improvement from one season to the next is 10 (the Colts from 3-13 in '98 to 13-3 in '99, and the Dolphins from 1-15 in '07 to 11-5 in '08). Reid and his team are well on their way to breaking that record. At 9-1 they are tied atop the AFC West with the Broncos and could easily make it to 13-3 or better in the regular season and could go a long way in the playoffs - earning Reid the award in the process.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Outside linebacker Alec Ogletree, Rams, or middle linebacker Kiko Alonso - With 65 tackles, 55 solo, six passes defended, three forced fumbles and a 98-yard interception return for a touchdown, Ogletree is definitely in the consideration for defensive rookie honors.

But our choice for the midseason winner and the season-award prediction is Kiko Alonso. Alonso, the second-round pick out of Oregon, leads his team with 112 tackles (including amassing a very impressive 22 tackles in a loss to the Bengals), leads them in interceptions with four (which is also tied for second in the NFL), has four passes defended and both a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. More worthy candidates could emerge over the next few weeks, like Sheldon Richardson or even our pre-draft favorite Kenny Vacarro, but Alonso is the current leader in the clubhouse.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Quarterback Geno Smith, Jets, or running back Eddie Lacy, Packers - The talented West Virginia product has the requisite tools to be a starter and star in the NFL. Smith was thrown into a difficult situation when Mark Sanchez went down for the season and has played well, leading the Jets to a 5-5 record so far after the team was 6-10 all of last season.

But the one we've chosen as the midseason winner and the season-award prediction is Eddie Lacy. Coming out of Alabama, there were concerns about Lacy: he had injury issues, he had bigger numbers against lesser opponents and he was the beneficiary of an NFL-caliber offensive line in college. Well, he's silenced his critics, yours truly included, and has become the main back in the Packers offense. He leads all NFL rookies with 696 yards rushing and a 4.0 yard average. While there's still time for him to be caught, say maybe by DeAndre Hopkins, he has a strong hold on the lead for now.

Defensive Player of the Year: Free Safety Earl Thomas, Seahawks, or DE/OLB Robert Mathis - Thomas is the "Road Runner", because when he catches you you're through! (Thank you, John Gruden.) He has 78 tackles this season to along with seven passes defended, four interceptions and two forced fumbles. According to his coach, also, the 2012 All-Pro is just hitting his stride. "There's no end to the potential Earl has," said Pete Carroll, "because he's so fast and he's so tough, but more than that, he's just so driven to be great."

Even with such a résumé, though, our midseason winner and the season-award prediction goes to Robert Mathis. The 6'2" 245-pound Mathis has been a strong-side defender throughout his career. Now with the switch to 3-4 defense, Mathis is the primary rush LB and doesn't have to set the edge and so just pins his ears back and attacks. Because the position change has buoyed his sack total, Mathis no longer has a pre-game meal - he simply eats left tackles for lunch. With 13.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and a safety, Mathis is in good position for 21.5 sacks - a career-high - and DPOY award.

Offensive Player of the Year: RB Jamaal Charles, Chiefs, or QB Peyton Manning, Broncos - Charles is all over the field. He runs the ball, catches passes out of the backfield, plays the option (w/QB Alex Smith) and even runs the Wildcat. He is the key to the Chiefs' offense.

However, our choice for the midseason winner and the season-award prediction needs no introduction. Peyton Manning has been nothing short of brilliant all season. Seeing Joe Flacco's image all over Peyton's city before the NFL's opening Thursday Night Kickoff caused this Bronco to stampede the Ravens and then never looked back. With a 118.3 QB Rating, almost 12 points higher than the next passer, a 69.9% completion rate, and 34 touchdown passes against only six INTs (a near 6-1 ratio), Manning just may get the award that eluded him last season. If so...

MVP: QB Peyton Manning, Broncos - Yes, Cam Newton, Calvin Johnson, Jamaal Charles and Drew Brees are in the discussion, but it may be against the Law to choose anyone but The Sheriff this season. His numbers are better across the board over every other QB in the league and he's poised to break Tom Brady's record of 50 TD passes set in the 2007 season, on a pace for 54. He isn't just the best player on the best team, he is the captain that drives the wagon train - they won't arrive at their destination in February without him. You don't get much more valuable than that.

Super Bowl prediction:
A few years ago, this would have been a prediction for the AFC Championship game. Now it's the final game. And while the 49ers, Patriots and Bengals may have something to say about it, Seattle Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos.
Three months of football are in the books, and in three more months we'll know how many of these will have come to fruition. Until then.