Published: Thursday, November 10, 2011
Updated: Friday, November 11, 2011 10:11
We are at the halfway mark of the 2011-2012 NFL season and at this point, teams are starting to get an idea of how the rest of their season can play out.
Last year's Super Bowl champions, the Green Bay Packers, have continued their hot streak this season by starting off 8-0 with outstanding play by their quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and additional players in an explosive offense. Other powerhouse teams in the National Football Conference include the New Orleans Saints (6-3) who are always a favorite to make a run in the conference, as well the New York Giants (6-2) who hold a favorable two-game lead in the NFC East.
But this season also holds many surprises from teams and players. No one could have guessed that the Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) would be where they are now, especially with a rookie QB Andy Dalton under center.
Thanks to contributions from running back Fred Jackson and an established, veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Buffalo Bills have managed to sustain a three-way tie in the American Football Conference Eastern Division.
The Detroit Lions, who have never won a super bowl, are finally in the midst of a promising year that could take them to their first playoff appearance since 1999.
We finally have seen a team standout in the recently dismal NFC West division. The San Francisco 49ers have the second best record in the NFL at 7-1, and with their stifling defense, could possibly clinch their division by Thanksgiving.
It is time for the midseason awards, and there are some unexpected winners.
MVP: Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has led the Packers to an 8-0 start this season to prevent a Super Bowl hangover. He has tossed 24 touchdowns to only three interceptions and has orchestrated the most prolific offense in football thus far.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Cam Newton. Newton has been under the microscope since he was taken as the number-one overall pick by the Carolina Panthers. There were questions as to if he could run a pro-style offense, or learn the playbook to even lead a team. Newton has proved disbelievers wrong, already tying the rookie QB record for rushing touchdowns (seven). Newton has also chucked 11 touchdowns and passed for over 2,300 yards.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Patrick Peterson. The young defensive back out of Louisiana State University is looking like a promising draft pick for the Arizona Cardinals. As a cornerback, Peterson already has two interceptions and 35 tackles (31 solo). Not only has Peterson been a force on defense, he also leads the NFL in punt return yards, averaging 22 yards per return. Three of his returns have been taken to the house this season, which already ties a single-season franchise record.
Coach of the Year: Jim Harbaugh. The San Francisco 49ers were not expected by anyone to be 7-1… besides coach Harbaugh. Harbaugh is coaching in the NFL for the first time and lost key players due to injury and free agency and Harbaugh still found ways to win, all while changing people's minds about quarterback Alex Smith being a "bust." The Niners have had a tough schedule and beaten teams like the surging Detroit Lions, the self-titled "Dream Team" (Philly Eagles) and the first place Cincinnati Bengals. Needless to say, Harbaugh has his team on the right track.