We've reached the halfway point of this 2017 NFL Season which means it's time to recognize the top performers through the first eight games with some unofficial awards!
From MVP to Coach of the Year, your NFL Daily hosts Tom Downey and Cam Rogers clue you in on who deserves some extra midseason love heading into Week 9. Make sure to check out the video above (or below) for more analysis on each selection!
Here are our picks for the 2017 NFL Midseason Awards
Coach of the Year: Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings
No other coach in the NFL has done more with less than Mike Zimmer with this Minnesota Vikings team. Already down Teddy Bridgewater heading into the season, the Vikings lost QB Sam Bradford -- who set the NFL record for completion percentage last season -- after both Weeks 1 and 5 and have been forced into starting Case Keenum for the majority of the season. This seemed to be at least slightly alleviated by the emergence of rookie running back Dalvin Cook -- who had rushed for 354 yards and 2 touchdowns in his first 4 games -- but his season was cut short by an ACL injury in week 4.
Despite those losses, as well as nagging injuries to Stefon Diggs and Riley Rieff, the Vikings still sit at 6-2 and are not only in sole possession of the NFC North but are also on pace for a first-round bye in the playoffs. Both Eagles HC Doug Pederson and Rams HC Sean McVay received serious consideration for this award but after seeing what Zimmer has done with this team, we had to give it to him.
Comeback Player of the Year: DeMarcus Lawrence, DE, Dallas Cowboys
DeMarcus Lawrence first burst onto the scene for the Cowboys in 2015, when he recorded eight sacks and 55 tackles (35 solo) in a full season and was one of the bright spots in an otherwise dreadful year for Dallas. His 2016 however, was marred by injuries and a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy and saw him only manage one sack and 11 tackles (eight solo) in nine games.
Coming into this season, many were unsure about Lawrence's ability to return from his nagging back injury but he dispelled all the doubters right from the get-go as he racked up 1.5 sacks in the Cowboys opener against the Giants, two more in the following week vs the Broncos, and 3 more against the Cardinals in Week 3. Since then, Lawrence has cooled off slightly but has still managed to record a sack in every game and currently leads the NFL with 10.5 through the midway point. His performance is a huge reason why the Cowboy defense has exceeded expectations and that earns our vote for comeback player of the year.
Rookie of the Year: Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Kareem Hunt set the tone for the 2017 Rookie of the Year race in the season's opening game against the Patriots when, after fumbling on his first carry, he racked up 246 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns versus the defending champions. From that point on, he's been one of the most productive running backs in the NFL and is a huge part of Kansas City's first-half success. Hunt's 762 yards rushing and four touchdowns rank first and sixth respectively among all active backs. Add to that 307 yards receiving (also sixth) and two receiving touchdowns (T-4th) and you've got a rookie contributing more offense than seasoned veterans and former MVPs. Marshon Lattimore might be one of Pro Football Focus's best cornerbacks, but Kareem the Dream's impact on his team has been more than enough to earn our vote.
Defensive Player of the Year: Calais Campbell, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars
If you're looking for a player to prove whether or not a "change of scenery" can take a football career to the next level, look no further than Calais Campbell. After recording 56.5 sacks in 138 games for the Arizona Cardinals, Campbell took his talents to the Jaguars and promptly converted their city's name to "Sacksonville" by recording 10 sacks in his first seven games with the team. That number has already eclipsed Campbell's career-high of nine sacks from 2013 and puts him on pace for 23 QB takedowns this year, which would break Michael Strahan's single-season record of 22.5 and cement his status as one of the greatest free-agent acquisitions in team -- or league -- history. Although he currently sits at second in the NFL in sacks behind another player on our list, his production this season has helped to turn the Jags defense from promising to punishing and is enough to earn him our DPOY nod.
Most Valuable Player: Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
The greatest Quarterback in NFL history gets to add another award to his trophy case (which may take up several rooms in the Brady household) as he earns our 2017 NFL midseason MVP. Although he's seemingly in the conversation for the league's top award every season, this would be the first time since 2010 that Tom Terrific goes home with the hardware and it might be his most deserving season since. Brady's 2,541 yards passing rank first in the NFL and his 16 passing touchdowns ties him with Alex Smith for third in the league. Top that off with a 106.5 QB Rating (2nd) and an 8:1 touchdown to interception ratio (second) and you've got a man on pace for one of the best statistical seasons of his career.
Adding to this impressive 2017 resume is the fact that Brady has almost single-handedly carried his Patriots team to a 6-2 record, despite having one of the worst defenses in the NFL and a rotating cast of backs and receivers. It may seem like the "safe" pick going with Brady over breakout performers like Carson Wentz and Alex Smith but we've seen how the NFL's golden boy performs down the stretch and it doesn't appear that he's going to be slipping up anytime soon -- something we can't say for certain about those other two names. If things stay par-for-the-course for Brady, he'll be looking at gaining entrance to one of the NFL's most elite clubs with his third MVP.
Plus, check out the video above (or below) to find out what team surprised us the most and what team is this year's biggest disappointment!
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Related Topics: New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Marshon Lattimore, NFL Midseason DPOY, Deshaun Watson, Doug Pederson, Sean McVay, Demarcus Lawrence, NFL Awards, NFL Midseason ROY, NFL Midseason Awards, Kareem Hunt, Minnesota Vikings, NFL Midseason MVP, NFL Coach of the Year, Calais Campbell, Tom Brady, Jacksonville Jaguars