It is time for our King Sport Halftime Awards, with every NFL team having played at least eight of 16 regular-season games.
Our official award categories do not include Biggest Idiot or League Leader in Gall, but if they did the clear winner would be Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy, who is back from suspension for domestic violence. After Deadspin published photos of the ex-girlfriend he battered and the bruises he inflicted, Hardy briefly changed his Twitter profile to read “innocent until proven guilty,” calling himself a “victim of discrimination.”
Innocent until proven guilty? He was convicted in a 2014 bench trial, appealed and saw the case eventually tossed only because the victim stopped cooperating. He served a four-game suspension, reduced from 10 by an arbitrator. What Hardy did is akin to what Ray Rice did, perhaps worse, but one is bounced from the league while the other continues to play for “America’s Team” and be lauded as a “leader” by owner Jerry Jones.
I feel dirty. Better get back the King Sport Middies:
MVP: Tom Brady, Patriots QB. And it isn’t close.
Offensive Player of Year: Brady. Because he’s on pace (at 5,418) to challenge Peyton Manning’s single-season record of 5,477 yards.
Defensive POY: Josh Norman, Panthers CB. Has four interceptions, 13 passes deflected and NFL’s lowest (38.9) completion-rate against for a team unbeaten thanks first to defense.
Offensive rookie: Todd Gurley, Rams RB. Although Raiders WR Amari Cooper is on his heels.
Defensive rookie: Marcus Peters, Chiefs CB. Wide-open race, though.
Coach of year: Todd Bowles, Jets. One of the three now-unbeaten coaches might win this, but right now, Bowles inherited a 4-12 team and had it 5-3 entering Thursday’s game.
Dolphins MVP: Jarvis Landry, WR/returner. On pace to break O.J. McDuffie’s durable (1998) club record of most catches in a season, 90. Also the return spark Miami has needed.
▪ Seven Dolphins are top 10 at their position in early Pro Bowl voting at NFL.com, led by Landry, fourth among return specialists. C Mike Pouncey, DE Cam Wake, DT Ndamukong Suh and P Matt Darr all are seventh. SS Reshad Jones is ninth. And Spencer Paysinger (!) is 10th among special-teamers.
▪ The 3-5 teams (like Miami) are not quite hopeless. Four teams with that record have made playoffs just since 2011, most recently the ’13 Eagles.
▪ What should we expect of this year’s record three 8-0 teams? There have been 21 previously, all have made playoffs, 12 have reached Super Bowl and eight have won it. But betting odds are 5-2 against any of the three finishing 16-0.
▪ The greatness of the Patriots, Super Bowl favorites at 9-4 odds, is everywhere you look. Example: Patriots have scored in 31 consecutive quarters, tying record set by 1999-00 Rams and equaled by 2005 Colts. This will be Pats’ 15th consecutive winning season, longest NFL streak since 49ers had 16 in 1983-98.
▪ The Rams’ Greg Zuerlein joined Sebastian Janikowski as only kickers with two field goals of 60-plus yards.