We have officially entered the second half of the 2021 NFL season, which means that now every game, every play, and every point will start to count more than ever. While in the first half of the season, some teams and players were focusing more on getting a good lead in the standings and rankings, now, the time to take everything to a whole new level has finally come, especially if you ask NFL picks against the spread betting fans.
For now, let’s focus on which players have been putting up the best numbers in their respective categories to make them front-runners and even favorites to earn any of the season’s most important personal awards. From MVP to offensive and defensive player of the year and of course offensive and defensive rookie of the year, let’s break down who made the most out of the first half of the 2021 NFL season.
MVP: Tom Brady
Honorable Mentions: Josh Allen, Kyler Murray, Matthew Stafford, Myles Garrett
If Derick Henry hadn’t fallen victim to a foot injury against the Colts, and with the way he was playing, once again being the driving force behind Tennessee’s offense, he would’ve been the consensus pick, but since he’ll surely be sidelined until the beginning of the postseason, our pick is Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB, Tom Brady. Yes, Tom Brady, who from the way he’s playing looks more and more like he’ll be performing at the top level into his early 70’s, has proven once again this season that when called upon he can be the most reliable passer in the league.
While his numbers might not be stellar, he’s making it work consistently with a Buccaneers team that is looking all sorts of good, especially when linked to playoff and even Super Bowl contention talks. At the end of the day, the MVP Award is more of a team-driven accolade than a personal one, so if the Bucs continue on their path, with Brady as their leader, he should be looking pretty good to win the MVP award. Keep in mind though, if Josh Allen or Kyler Murray pop off in the second half of the season, Brady could be looking at some serious competition coming his away.
OPOY: Cooper Kupp
Honorable Mentions: Matthew Stafford, Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson
How does one manage to stand out in a team as talented and stacked as the Los Angeles Rams? Well, look at what WR Cooper Kupp has been doing all season long and you’ll get a pretty good feel of how. Yes, when it comes to awards in the league, all offensive driven titles are usually handed out to quarterbacks, but with the season Kupp is putting up and the numbers he is raking, it would be ludicrous to not take him as the best-fitted player to become this season’s Offensive Player of the Year.
He already managed to break the 1,000 receiving yard barrier within the first nine games of the season, putting him next to another receiver you might have heard of in the annals of football history, Jerry Rice as the only player since the merger of the league with 1,000 receiving yards and at least 10 touchdowns before the first nine games of the season. If he continues in his path, and with the extra game, the idea of seeing Kupp break the 2,000-yard ceiling and score over 20 TD’s for the season might just be enough to put his name on the award.
DPOY: Myles Garrett
Honorable Mentions: Trevon Diggs, Aaron Donald, T.J. Watt, Jalen Ramsay
What, no Aaron Donald as the top favorite? No, sorry, but with the season the Cleveland Browns DE Myles Garrett it’s only logical and fair to have him as the clear favorite to take the Defensive Player of the Year award, maybe even by a landslide. Now, with Garrett, the question does arise, what if his season is so strong there’s no way of not taking him as a double winner here, for both DPOY and MVP?
With the way he’s playing and the numbers he has already managed to put up, with 12 sacks already in the season, averaging 1.3 sacks per fame, and 22 knockdowns, Myles Garrett is on his way to clearing the all-time regular-season sacks record of 22,5. The extra game in the season plus his sheer talent and abilities will surely be more than enough to make him surpass the 25 sack mark, making the claim for his DPOY and even MVP nods even more valid. While Steelers defensive star T.J. Watt will sure be trying to catch up to Garrett in the sacks department, this award is Garrett’s to win or lose, all by himself.
OROY: Ja’Marr Chase
Honorable Mentions: Najee Harris, Justin Fields, Mac Jones
No, no nods here to Trevor Lawrence, who everyone thought would be the absolute favorite for this award before the season started, or for Zach Wilson, who at least Jets fans thought would come in right away to be the savior of their shaky and shambling franchise. With the season that Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase has been having, not taking him as the clear favorite for winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award would be an offense all in itself.
The effect that Chase’s arrival has had on the Bengals’ offense is like night and day. Given that he and Cincinnati QB Joe Burrow have some history together, college championship-winning history together, once they were able to link up again, a whole new era of offensive electricity started for the Bengals, who have gone from being the punching bag in the AFC North to making a strong claim for a postseason run, all because of what Chase has brought to the team.
DROY: Micah Parsons
Honorable Mentions: Patrick Surtain, Jaelan Phillips, Nick Bolton
While everyone has been all over the place talking about how Dak Prescott’s return to the Cowboys has been the spark that the team needed to once again rise to stardom, can we please take a moment and talk about what rookie Micah Parsons has been doing for Dallas’ defense? The linebacker from Penn State came into Dallas and right away put not just the team, but the league on notice about what he can do when pushed.
His impact in the Cowboys defensive line was felt right away and with the departure of Jaylon Smith, Parsons rose to the occasion and became the leader of a Cowboys defense that is ranked amongst the best in the league. While other rookies have done some pretty solid work on defense, if we had to start a team right now defensively based on any of them Micah Parsons will always be the answer.