We've reached the somewhat nebulous midseason point of the NFL season, with most teams having played eight games and every team having played seven.
While it's tough to pinpoint the exact center of the NFL season, now is a great stopping point to assess who leads the various award categories. Specifically, we wanted to know who stands out to the NFL on CBS and CBS Sports analysts in terms of being the MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year and Midseason Surprise.
One thing became extremely clear: The Cowboys are a runaway train, smashing everything in their tracks. Well, at least in terms of winning Offensive Rookie of the Year. The analysts had a difficult time deciding whether or not to go with Dak Prescott or Ezekiel Elliott, while Carson Wentz (Boomer Esiason) and Will Fuller (Bart Scott) both got one vote each.
The Cowboys also dominated the Midseason Surprise category, with seven analysts picking some combination of Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys as the biggest surprise.
The other two categories were dominated by one player as well. Matt Ryan was a runaway favorite for MVP, although Bill Cowher agrees with my sentiment that New England quarterback Tom Brady should get some love despite playing only four games. Derek Carr's impressive play for the Raiders garnered him multiple votes as well.
Here are the full picks with some commentary from the analysts below:
|Analyst||MVP|| Defensive |
Player of Year
| Offensive |
Rookie of Year
|Boomer Esiason||Derek Carr/Matt Ryan||Von Miller||Carson Wentz||Raiders/Eagles|
|Bill Cowher||Tom Brady||Von Miller||Ezekiel Elliott||Dak Prescott/Cowboys|
|Tony Gonzalez||Matt Ryan||Von Miller||Dak Prescott||Dak/Zeke/Cowboys|
|Bart Scott||Matt Ryan||Lorenzo Alexander||Will Fuller||Atlanta Falcons|
|Phil Simms||Matt Ryan||N/A||Dak Prescott||Jets/Cardinals|
|Tracy Wolfson||Matt Ryan||Von Miller|| Ezekiel Elliott/ |
|Dan Fouts||Matt Ryan||Lorenzo Alexander||Dak Prescott||Raiders|
|Trent Green||Matt Ryan||Von Miller||Dak Prescott||Dak Prescott|
|Rich Gannon||Derek Carr||Lorenzo Alexander||Dak Prescott||Dallas Cowboys|
|Solomon Wilcots||Matt Ryan||Von Miller||Ezekiel Elliott||Dak/Cowboys|
|Steve Tasker||Matt Ryan||Marcus Peters||Dak Prescott||Lorenzo Alexander|
|Amy Trask||Matt Ryan||Von Miller||Ezekiel Elliott||Dak/Cowboys|
|London Fletcher||Matt Ryan||Lorenzo Alexander||Ezekiel Elliott||Dak/Cowboys|
|Chris Simms||Derek Carr||Von Miller||Dak Prescott||Panthers|
|Brandon Tierney||Matt Ryan||Von Miller||Ezekiel Elliott||DeMarco Murray|
|CONSENSUS||Matt Ryan||Von Miller||Elliott/Prescott ||Cowboys|
Tracy Wolfson of the NFL on CBS said while she voted for Ryan at midpoint, the Brady idea is definitely lingering and "by season's end, it will be Tom Brady" who wins MVP. Hard to argue with that logic.
Defensive Player of the Year looks very different without J.J. Watt on the field, but it wasn't hard to pinpoint Miller as a standout. Amy Trask noted that the Broncos linebacker "remains a disruptive, dominating presence despite the absence of some important 2015 contributors." Miller picked up right where he left off during Super Bowl 50.
Phil Simms didn't have a runaway favorite for top defender and said he thinks it'll be decided in the second half of the season.
Prescott gets plenty of love for his play, but London Fletcher said it's Elliott's ability to play all three downs that separates him for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
"This kid is a special talent," Fletcher said. "He can do it all."
The Raiders were a close second to the Cowboys in terms of biggest surprise, which is also understandable. Carr has morphed into a legit MVP candidate and Dan Fouts, who knows the difficulties of the AFC West like few others, points out their "going 5-0 on the road" separates them in terms of elevating their game.
"For me the biggest surprise in the NFL is the Raiders and Eagles," Boomer Esiason said. "Both teams are led by young quarterbacks. Both teams are exceeding expectations. And both teams are headed in the right direction."