Most Valuable Player
LT: Quarterback Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Nobody on Seattle’s offensive staff seems to have any idea how to run the football or create a pocket, making Wilson’s injury-clouded performance with the 4-2-1 Seahawks all the more impressive. He’s kept the Seahawks alive and in charge of the division. If the season were to end today, they’d be the third seed in the NFC.
WG: Quarterback Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
The man affectionately nicknamed Matty Ice is in the midst of his best statistical season. He has lead the Falcons to a 5-3 after capping off Sunday’s comeback win with a game winning touchdown. He is on pace for a career high 38 touchdowns and 5,272 passing yards.
ANNIE CHANG • THE SPECTATOR
Best Defensive Player
LT: Linebacker Zach Brown, Buffalo Bills
Nobody is playing defense quite like Brown right now. After coming over from the Titans this year, his performance has exploded. With 87 tackles and three forced fumbles, he’s a ball hawk that is upsetting the balance of power in the long stable AFC East.
WG: Von Miller, Denver Broncos
The Super Bowl MVP has continued his dominant play into the 2016 season. He already has 8.5 sacks even with teams making him the focal point of their offensive line. Not only is he a monster but his play allows others on the Broncos defensive line to get better looks at the quarterback.
Rookie of the Year
LT: Quarterback Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
When he took the reigns from injured QB Tony Romo after 13 seasons of mediocrity, no one expected what they saw next. For a team that finished the season as the NFC’s bottom-dweller one year ago, Dax’s brand of magic is a revelation. His composure and athleticism makeup for less-than-impressive numbers, leading the team to success in the only category that matters- Wins.
WG: Running Back Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys 6-1 start has been sparked by impressive play from their two rookies, Elliot and quarterback Dak Prescott. Either could take this award but at this point Elliott leads the league in rushing yards, on pace for over 1,600 yards and 11 touchdowns. Those would stand to be outstanding numbers for a rookie.
Coach of the Year
LT: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots
No Brady? No problem. The dynastic form of the Patriots made be led by No. 12, but its creator and master is Belichick. Leading the league in point differential proves you don’t really need a future hall of famer on your roster to be 7-1…though it obviously helps, to rest of the league’s disdain. Belichick is, and has been the football genius of this modern era.
WG: Dan Quinn, Atlanta Falcons
The second year coach has his team off to another good start. He led them to a 5-0 record last year before dropping eight of the last 11 games. This year a 5-3 start that could easily be 7-1 if not for some last minute misfortunes in two of the losses shows the strides the team has made. They are running one of the best offenses in the NFL.
LT: AFC, Denver Broncos
So you’re the defending Super Bowl champions who’ve watched Peyton Manning transition from picking up blitzes to picking up scripts—Concerned? With a dominant defense riding high on experience and accomplishment, and an improving run game, there’s no reason to be. The Broncos (6-2) have Super Bowl 51 in their sights, even with 2015’s 250th pick Trevor Siemian taking the snaps.
WG: AFC, New England Patriots
Tom Brady is back and scorching the rest of the NFL. The Patriots managed a 3-1 start without him which may be good enough to help them grab 14 or 15 wins and the top seed. Brady doesn’t appear to be slowing down at age 39. The defense under Matt Patricia has been its usual versatile self allowing the fourth fewest points per game.
LT: NFC, Dallas Cowboys
At 5-1 against NFC teams, no one has proven themselves in the conference more than the top seeded Cowboys. Dax Prescott’s rookie gunslinging is phenomenal and causing the team to assess Tony Romo’s value. Still, this is a team with momentum and
WG: NFC, Dallas Cowboys
Winners of six games in a row, the Cowboys currently sit at the top of the NFC. They have the best rushing attack in the league and a rookie quarterback who has proven he knows how to win games. Their defense has stepped up when needed. The NFC is pretty open but with the Vikings struggling two weeks in a row and the Seahawks riddled with injuries, this could be the year for the Cowboys.
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