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2017 NFL midseason predictions: MVP, Rookie of the Year, more

At the midpoint of the 2017 NFL season, our analysts refresh their predictions on the major individual awards, the entire playoff field and Championship Sunday/Super Bowl LII outcomes.

All winners will be announced at NFL Honors on Saturday, February 3, at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.


Judy Battista: Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots. Key injuries might make the season a slog, but Brady is playing at an age-defying level to cover up those absences.

Jeffri Chadiha: Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs.Carson Wentz is on his heels, but Smith has two things going for him: 1) His overall numbers are better; and 2) the Chiefs beat the Eagles.

Gil Brandt: Smith.Tom Brady and Carson Wentz pose persuasive arguments, but Smith ranks first in passer rating (115.4) and yards per attempt (8.4) -- with the latter figure being, according to Bill Parcells, the biggest indicator of quarterback success.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Brady. Others are having big -- even career -- years, but no one is as consistent or valuable.

Steve Wyche: Brady. With Aaron Rodgers out, Brady will end up taking home the honors. Carson Wentz, Alex Smith, Russell Wilson and Drew Brees will be in the conversation.

Ike Taylor: Brady. No 40-year-old quarterback has done, well, anything Brady is doing.

Charley Casserly: Brady. I know it's a boring pick. He is having another outstanding year despite the loss of his favorite target, Julian Edelman. The defense started off poor. He has brought the Pats back to win games and improved over the course of the first half of the season.

Heath Evans: Brady. Regardless of circumstance, Brady continues to get better. At this point, I don't think he'll ever retire.

Adam Schein: Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles. He's a star and defines value for the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

Reggie Wayne: Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints. Brees just recorded his 6,000th career completion. With him, the Saints always have a shot.

Alex Gelhar: Smith. His play (deep passing, in particular) has unlocked the Kansas City offense and is what's keeping the Chiefs at the top of the AFC.

Adam Rank: Smith. I was set to go with Tom Brady here. But Smith did steal the win in Week 1. And while I would certainly lean toward Brady in a playoff rematch, we're talking about a regular-season award -- and nobody has played better than Smith. Even up against a great defense this past Monday night, Smith found a way to win. And you might want to say, "Well, that's because the Broncos don't have a QB." And I'd be all, "Yeah, that's my point."


Judy Battista: Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles. The real deal. His improvement this season has made the Eagles a contender.

Jeffri Chadiha: Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs. He's on pace for the best season of his career.

Gil Brandt: Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs. Through eight weeks, he leads the NFL in rushing (763 yards) and yards from scrimmage (1,070). He also ranked second-best in the league in yards after contact (2.6 per carry) heading into Week 8.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers. When you account for most of your team's offensive touches (and you aren't the QB), you're doing the right things. His production speaks for itself.

Steve Wyche: Bell. Bell walks away with this. Pittsburgh uses him so much in the run and passing games, and he delivers the goods.

Ike Taylor: Bell. Bell is the catalyst for the league's most dangerous offense.

Charley Casserly: Wentz. He leads the Eagles to the NFC East title and ends up with a QB rating over 100.0. Antonio Brown is a close second.

Heath Evans: Bell. There aren't many others on Bell's level.

Adam Schein: Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots. And he's 40!

Reggie Wayne: Brady. He's 40 and still dicing up defenses.

Alex Gelhar: Wentz. Few players have performed as well -- or with such dazzling ability -- as Wentz this season. He's truly taken the next step.

Adam Rank: Brady. I know, the fantasy community is going crazy over other quarterbacks in the league. But this has been one of the most impressive Brady seasons I can remember. The defense struggled greatly in the early goings, but Brady once again has the Patriots in the mix for the AFC's top seed and should be considered the favorite.


Judy Battista: Calais Campbell, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars. Arguably the best free-agent signing of the year, he is the linchpin of the Jaguars' rise.

Jeffri Chadiha: Campbell. He has 10 sacks through seven games and Jacksonville's defense is scarier than ever. Case closed.

Gil Brandt: Campbell. Campbell is tied for second in the NFL with 10 sacks. He also has 27 pressures and 32 tackles while serving as a real leader and catalyst for the Jaguars, who are tied with the Titans for the AFC South lead.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Campbell. Campbell lit a spark in the Jags' defense. This unit is playing better, and Campbell, although in his first year in Jacksonville, is the leader.

Steve Wyche: Joey Bosa, DE, Los Angeles Chargers. I'm sticking with my preseason pick of Joey Bosa. He is so dominant. The Chargers' lack of exposure could hurt, but he will get recognized.

Ike Taylor: Ryan Shazier, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers He has improved a lot in his fourth season and is a huge reason the Steelers' defense ranks in the top three.

Charley Casserly: Campbell. He has taken this Jaguars defense -- and team -- to another level. Can play DE and DT and is a factor against the run and pass.

Heath Evans: Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams. His production is down, but there's still time for him to take over.

Adam Schein: Campbell. He has the numbers and the intangibles to capture this award as he leads the Jaguars.

Reggie Wayne: Campbell. Joining the Jags was a wise move for Campbell. He's right in the mix to lead the league in sacks and won't be stopped now.

Alex Gelhar: Donald. The stats might not be backing this up (yet), but no player possesses more game-wrecking ability than Donald.

Adam Rank: Campbell. The Jaguars' defense looks dominant. But Jacksonville has been building to this for years. Campbell pushed the Jags over the top. He's like the Cowboys' addition of Charles Haley back in the 1990s.


UPDATE: After the publishing of this piece, news broke that dynamic Houston rookie Deshaun Watson suffered a torn ACL in practice Thursday. The Texans QB is out for the season.

Judy Battista: Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans. The Texans finally found their franchise quarterback -- and one of the most exciting players in the NFL.

Jeffri Chadiha: Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs. Even with Deshaun Watson making a strong case, Hunt has been sensational since Day 1.

Gil Brandt: Watson. The first-round pick has elevated the Texans' offense considerably, pushing Houston to an NFL-best 30.2 points per game after the Texans averaged just 17.4 points per game (T-28th) in 2016. He also has posted three-plus touchdown passes in four consecutive games, a record for a rookie.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Hunt. There are a lot of rookies doing big things, but Hunt is literally running away with this one.

Steve Wyche: Hunt. I'm surprised by Bears RB Tarik Cohen. He's been great, just not enough touches. That said, Hunt gets this honor.

Ike Taylor: Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars' offense hasn't been able to rely on its quarterback in recent years. Fournette has carried the load all season.

Charley Casserly: Watson. He leads the Texans to the division championship with his arm, not his legs!

Heath Evans: Watson.I picked Dalvin Cook in the preseason, but his season-ending injury takes him out of the running. Plus, this award usually goes to a quarterback.

Adam Schein: Watson. It's over. It's magical.

Reggie Wayne: Hunt. He took the league by storm and is doing things no rookie has done.

Alex Gelhar: Watson. Watson breaks a record seemingly every week and is the reason Houston is in playoff contention despite losing two of their top three defensive players.

Adam Rank: Watson. The Texans have been one of the best defensive teams in the league for some time, always looking for a QB. Now they lose the defense just as they get a young signal caller. But the fun thing is, they might be better off. Not might. Are.


Judy Battista: T.J. Watt, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers. Installed as a rookie starter, Watt has been part of an improved Steelers defense.

Jeffri Chadiha: Watt. J.J.'s younger brother is making a fine name for himself in his first season.

Gil Brandt: Tre'Davious White, CB, Buffalo Bills. White has allowed just 48.9 percent of passes against him to be completed -- that's phenomenal. He has 12 pass breakups, 26 tackles and a pick.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Jamal Adams, S, New York Jets. The No. 6 overall pick is making plays and playing with a lot of effort.

Steve Wyche: White. He is making plays and getting better. With the Bills likely in the hunt, he'll be put on the spot.

Ike Taylor: Watt. J.J. who? The youngest Watt is making his own name with four sacks and a pick in six games.

Charley Casserly: Marshon Lattimore, CB, New Orleans Saints. He's helped turn the Saints' defense around and he's helped make New Orleans a playoff contender.

Heath Evans: Adams. He has made a big impact on a rebuilding Jets defense.

Adam Schein: Lattimore. He's been a consistent presence for the Saints' stunning defense.

Reggie Wayne: Watt. He's having the best statistical season of any rookie.

Alex Gelhar: Lattimore. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more team-altering defensive rookie than Lattimore, who is reshaping the Saints' defensive image with his stellar play.

Adam Rank: White. Looks like we have another shutdown corner in the NFL. He absolutely ghosted Amari Cooper on Sunday (right after the Raiders receiver had the game of his life).


Judy Battista: Jaylon Smith, LB, Dallas Cowboys. Nearly two years after the devastating knee injury and nerve damage Smith suffered at the end of his college career -- a setback that cost him his entire rookie season -- he is a starter, far exceeding many expectations.

Jeffri Chadiha: Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Dallas Cowboys. He's having a Pro Bowl year after only playing in nine games and recording just one sack in 2016.

Gil Brandt: Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams. Gurley has rushed for 627 yards and scored eight total touchdowns thus far -- after putting up just six touchdowns all last season. He's averaging 4.3 yards per carry -- an improvement of 1.1 yards per carry over 2016.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Earl Thomas, S, Seattle Seahawks. No one else really sticks out.

Steve Wyche: Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers. He's having a nice season and most other candidates are either hurt again or off to slow starts.

Ike Taylor: Thomas. Sticking with my pick from the preseason. Seven games in with five passes defensed, one interception and a forced fumble. I love how this guy plays.

Charley Casserly: Gurley. He edges out his teammate Jared Goff in my mind. Both are deserving of the award, but Gurley is a better player at his position.

Heath Evans: Adrian Peterson, RB, Arizona Cardinals. Arizona uses "AD" in the right way. He puts up huge numbers going forward.

Adam Schein: Allen.My preseason pick has been a consistent weapon for Philip Rivers, coming off a torn ACL.

Reggie Wayne: Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots. His impact on the Patriots' offense speaks for itself.

Alex Gelhar: Justin Houston, OLB, Kansas City Chiefs. After a dominant display on Monday versus the Broncos, Houston edges out Gronk for this honor.

Adam Rank: Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams. Goff was considered a bust after a failed rookie campaign, but it was clearly not his fault. Like, not at all. And I know Carson Wentz has looked great this year, but I still feel like the Rams ended up with the better quarterback. We won't fully see it until next year.


Judy Battista: Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams. The development of Jared Goff might be the greatest testament ever to the impact a smart, offensive coach can have on a quarterback.

Jeffri Chadiha: Doug Pederson, Philadelphia Eagles. A lot of people thought the Eagles were the worst team in the NFC East when this season began. They're now the best team in the conference.

Gil Brandt: McVay. The first-year head coach has already notched more wins in seven games (five) than the Rams did all last season (four). The offense is also averaging 30 points per game after putting up just 14 per game in 2016.

Maurice Jones-Drew: McVay. I've watched what McVay's done weekly. He's energetic and has this team rolling.

Steve Wyche: Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings. I have to move off my preseason pick of Pete Carroll and roll with Zimmer. Rotating QBs, loss of skill players on offense and the Vikings could still make the postseason.

Ike Taylor: McVay. This is an entirely different team from the one we saw a year ago. The Rams believe they can win -- and are doing just that.

Charley Casserly: Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills. He edges out Sean McVay. McDermott has done more with less.

Heath Evans: Adam Gase, Miami Dolphins. Everyone overlooks Miami, but Gase could lead the Fins to the playoffs for a second straight year.

Adam Schein: McDermott. His stamp is all over the Bills, who lack talent but outkick it because of the coach.

Reggie Wayne: McVay. He's 31 years old and completely turned the organization around in a matter of months.

Alex Gelhar: McVay. McVay has Los Angeles buzzing about football for the first time in 20 years. His arrival immediately resurrected the careers of Jared Goff and Todd Gurley.

Adam Rank: McVay. It's hard to put into words how night-and-day the Los Angeles Rams look this year as opposed to last. It's like when you go back and watch the special effects of a 1980s movie like "Flash Gordon," then compare that product to the new Star Wars or something. And that might not be selling it enough.

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