Without further ado (actually, with no ado at all), our King Sport Halftime Awards:
▪ MVP: Matt Ryan, Falcons QB — Leads in most major passing categories to drive NFL’s best offense. But Atlanta will have to stay playoff-bound for Ryan to stave off Pats’ late-starting but hard-charging Tom Brady.
▪ Offensive POY: David Johnson, Cardinals RB — Ryan is in play, but Johnson is the fantasy darling dual threat whose 705 yards rushing and 407 receiving have him on pace for 2,224 total scrimmage yards.
▪ Defensive POY: Von Miller, Broncos OLB — Miller has 8 1/2 sacks for a team that wins with defense. Keep an eye on Rams DT Aaron Donald, but L.A. needs to win to keep him on the radar.
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▪ Offensive rookie: Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys RB — Leads league with 799 rushing yards and averages 5.0 per carry. Biggest competition is teammate Dak Prescott, but Elliott is carrying that offense.
▪ Defensive rookie: Joey Bosa, Chargers DE — Bosa, out of St. Thomas Aquinas, held out of camp then took a few games to work into shape but has four sacks in his four games. Jags CB Jalen Ramsey will need some picks to re-enter the debate.
▪ Coach of the Year: Jack Del Rio, Oakland — Took a 3-13 team out of playoffs since 2002 and in his second season has it 6-2. Vikes’ Mike Zimmer and (as usual) Patriots’ Bill Whatshisname also in the mix.
▪ Dolphins MVP: Jay Ajayi, RB — Yes, just like that. Ajayi has needed only two games to breathe life into this franchise and fandom. WR Jarvis Landry is in the mix, but one TD at midseason ain’t gonna get it done.
THIS AND THAT
▪ Only two teams since the 1970 merger have played an entire season with all losses: the 1976 Buccaneers (0-14) and 2008 Lions (0-16).
Might the 0-8 Browns join them?
Odds are slim, and yet every remaining Cleveland opponent has at least three wins, and ESPN’s Football Power Index gives Browns no better than a 36 percent chance to win any one game. Cleveland is likelier to join the dozen one-win teams since 1970, the most recent of those the 2009 St. Louis Rams.
▪ Miami’s Ajayi has 418 yards rushing in past two games, but don’t hold your breath for his breaking the three-game mark. That’s 647 by O.J. Simpson in 1976.
▪ Raiders’ Derek Carr last week became third QB ever to pass for 500 yards in a game with four TDs and zero interceptions, joining Y.A. Tittle (1962) and Ben Roethlisberger (2014).
▪ Saints’ Drew Brees had his 100th career 300-yard game, the first to that plateau. Peyton Manning had 93, Tom Brady has 74, and Dan Marino is fourth at 63.
▪ Jets’ Matt Forte last week became fourth player ever with 50 rushing TDs, 500 catches and 20 receiving TDs, joining Marcus Allen, Marshall Faulk and Herschel Walker.
▪ Lions’ Matthew Stafford played his 100th career game and reached 27,890 passing yards, the most by anyone at that centennial.