NFL midseason awards: Wilson not a sure thing in MVP race, Roethlisberger a worthy Comeback Player

Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks
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Ricky Dimon

NFL

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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

We are just about at the halfway point of the 2020 NFL season. Heck, just getting to this point has to be considered a success given the way COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the sports world and life in general. But now it’s time to start thinking about the endgame of the regular season, when individual awards will be handed out.

Let’s take a look at some of the races and the potential best bets involved.

MVP

Russell Wilson -182
Patrick Mahomes +350
Aaron Rodgers +1000
Tom Brady +1200

Russell Wilson briefly opened the door with a three-interception performance in the Seattle Seahawks’ only loss of the season to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 7. To say he got back on track seven days later would be a gross understatement. Wilson threw for four touchdowns without an interception as his team restored order by beating the San Francisco 49ers. He now has 2,151 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, and six interceptions this season.

Although Wilson is an obvious favorite and for good reason, the best value could be on Patrick Mahomes at +350. Nobody is capable of racking up huge single-game numbers quite like Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. His statistics are already amazing (2,315 passing yards, 21 passing touchdowns, one interception, 165 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns) and they could get even better.

Offensive Player of Year odds are currently off the market, but the numbers and projections should be largely the same as they are in the MVP race. After all, no defensive player has better than a +15000 chance to win MVP (TJ Watt).

Defensive Player of the Year

TJ Watt +300
Myles Garrett +350
Aaron Donald +400
Khalil Mack +700

It is a more competitive contest in the DPOY category, and according to the odds there are four players in realistic contention. The simple aura of the name “Aaron Donald” gives him a good chance, even though the Los Angeles Rams’ star defensive tackle is the third choice behind Watt and Myles Garrett. Donald and Garrett are tied for the league lead with 9.0 sacks, while Watt has 6.5 sacks and an interception.

Comeback Player of the Year

Ben Roethlisberger cannot be discounted from the MVP discussion (he is a +3000 sixth choice), but he has a much better shot at Comeback Player of the Year honors, In fact, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback is a +250 favorite in the latter department.

And why not? Roethlisberger, who played in a mere two games last season due to an elbow injury, has passed for 1,628 yards with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions. The 38-year-old has Pittsburgh at 7-0—the only undefeated team in the NFL.

There is a great value on Roethlisberger in this spot because three other veteran quarterbacks who were his biggest challengers are trending downward. Cam Newton and the New England Patriots are losing games left and right, Matthew Stafford has been unspectacular and is now on the COVID list, and Alex Smith is not even the Washington Redskins starter. Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski is finally getting into a groove with Tom Brady on their new team, but not to the extent that he can be expected to seriously compete with Roethlisberger.

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