Wednesday, November 9, 2011

NFL 2011 Midseason All-Pro Team and Awards

Once again we're at the midpoint of the NFL regular season, and that means it's time to handout some awards and name my midseason all-pro team.


For reference, you can check out my preseason award predictions here and laugh at how off the mark I probably was.

Offense

WR Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions: With a healthy Matthew Stafford, Megatron has helped the Lions turn things around and become an instant playoff contender. He is quite simply the most dominant receiver in the game today and his talent in the red zone is unmatched.

LT Andrew Whitworth, Cincinnati Bengals: One of the most underrated left tackles in the game for some time now, Whitworth deserves this as he's protected the Bengals' rookie quarterback by allowing just 1.5 sacks so far this season.

LG Mike Iupati, San Francisco 49ers: The mauling former first-round pick has been exactly as advertised, helping Frank Gore continue to find success and protecting Alex Smith in a career year for the passer.

C Matt Birk, Baltimore Ravens: Even at 35, Birk is still one of the most reliable and technically-sound lineman in the game. He continues to play at a high level for the Ravens while clearing holes for Ray Rice.

RG Chris Kuper, Denver Broncos: A largely unheralded former fifth-round pick, Kuper is earning the $29 million extension he received an offseason ago by helping Willis McGahee look 10 years younger.

RT Todd Herremans, Philadelphia Eagles: Protecting Michael Vick has been an issue for the Eagles all season, but Herremans has been steady by allowing just one sack and even seeing time at left tackle due to injury.

TE Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints: There are probably more complete tight ends out there, but Graham has been a huge asset for Drew Brees and has a ridiculous nine-game stat line of 55 receptions, 791 yards and five scores.

WR Wes Welker, New England Patriots: You can certainly make an argument for Steve Smith here and I think we all know how overrated and replaceable I feel Welker is, but you can't really argue with a guy that's on pace for 132 receptions, 1,920 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.

QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: The pressure of being defending Super Bowl champs hasn't gotten to Rodgers and the Packers, as the quarterback is simply a machine right now that can seemingly score at will.

RB Matt Forte, Chicago Bears: You could certainly make a case for LeSean McCoy or Fred Jackson here, but Forte has been a monster in Chicago with 805 yards (second in the NFL) on a 5.4 average while adding 41 catches and 436 receiving yards.

FB Marcel Reece, Oakland Raiders: A former undrafted wide receiver, Reece has opened up holes for Darren McFadden and Michael Bush all season while adding 94 yards and two touchdowns of his own as a pass-catcher.


Defense

DE Jared Allen, Minnesota Vikings: He's not getting the attention he deserves because of the Vikings' poor record, but Allen is leading the NFL with 12.5 sacks and has been his usual play-maker self with three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and an interception.

DT Domata Peko, Cincinnati Bengals: He might not be a household name, but Peko leads the 6-2 Bengals with 33 tackles and is a major reason the team leads the NFL in fewest yards per carried allowed at 3.3.

NT Isaac Sopoaga, San Francisco 49ers: Patrick Willis gets all the attention, but Sopoaga is doing a great job replacing Aubrayo Franklin at nose tackle and opening up things for the Niners' linebackers to make plays.

DE Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants: Taking advantage of injuries on the Giants' defensive line, the 2010 first-round is experiencing a breakout season with 9.5 sacks and quality run defense.

OLB DeMarcus Ware, Dallas Cowboys: Consistently one of the most dominant pass rushers in the game, Ware is at it again with 12 sacks and two forced fumbles halfway through the season.

ILB (3-4) NaVorro Bowman, San Francisco 49ers: The Packers' Desmond Bishop has numbers to match him, but San Francisco's run defense has been phenomenal this season and Bowman is even outproducing Pro Bowl teammate Patrick Willis.

MLB (4-3) Curtis Lofton, Atlanta Falcons: My midseason all-pro pick last season as well, Lofton quietly goes about his job at a highly-productive level with 76 tackles on the NFL's No. 5 run defense.

OLB LaMarr Woodley, Pittsburgh Steelers: Already an elite pass rusher, Woodley is playing his best ball yet and is on pace to shatter his personal high in sacks (13.5) with nine on the year already.

CB Darrelle Revis, New York Jets: After somewhat of a down year (by his standards) due to his holdout and a subsequent hamstring injury, Revis is back to his dominant ways and is simply allowing nothing in the passing game.

CB Johnathan Joseph, Houston Texans: After having the league's worst pass defense a season ago, the Texans have gotten a huge boost from Joseph, who has three picks and 13 deflections for the NFL's No. 7 unit.

FS Ed Reed, Baltimore Ravens: His play-making numbers aren't entirely there, but Reed is still dominating as the Ravens' center fielder and Baltimore ranks third in the NFL against the pass.

SS Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers: Similar to Reed, Polamalu doesn't have the eye-popping numbers, but is still playing great ball and is helping the Steelers to another quality defensive season.


Special Teams

K Dan Bailey, Dallas Cowboys: A couple guys with fewer field goal attempts are still at 100 percent, but Bailey is tied for the lead in field goals made and is 20-for-21 overall.

P Andy Lee, San Francisco 49ers: Lee ranks second in the NFL in both punting average (50.2) and net average (43.3) while downing 13 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line.

KR Joe McKnight, New York Jets: The only choice for this spot, McKnight is averaging ridiculous 40.2 yards per return and has taken one back 107 yards for a score.

PR Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals: A physical freak at 220 pounds, Peterson leads all full-time punt returners with a 21.8 average and three scores—two more than anyone in the league. His 99-yarder to win the game in overtime last week was one of the players of the year.

ST Corey Graham, Chicago Bears: Consistently one of the best in the league at his craft, Graham has eight tackles on the year and is highly skilled at causing muffed punts and downing balls near the goal line.

Awards

Most Valuable Player — QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: It's hard to argue against Rodgers, who hasn't missed a beat since last year's Super Bowl run. He is the best quarterback in the league right now and makes everyone around him better.

Offensive Player — QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: An easy pick, as Rodgers has completed 72.5 percent of his passes, has 24 touchdowns against just three interceptions, and has an astounding 129.1 quarterback rating that ranks well above anyone in the league.

Defensive Player — CB Darrelle Revis, New York Jets: In eight games, Revis has allowed 12 receptions and opposing quarterbacks have a 2.9 passer rating when throwing his direction. That is the definition of a Defensive MVP.

Offensive RookieQB Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers: I was not on the Cam Newton bandwagon coming into the season and I remain skeptical about his long-term prospects, but his production thus far is undeniable with a rock solid 87.1 quarterback rating and 18 total offensive touchdowns.

Defensive Rookie LB Von Miller, Denver Broncos: Tied among rookies with the 49ers' Aldon Smith with 6.5 sacks, Miller also has 31 tackles and two forced fumble on the season in an impressive first year.

Comeback Player — QB Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: Calvin Johnson is obviously a luxury that boosts Stafford's performance, but after battling injuries and appearing in just three games in 2010, Stafford is a worthy recipient for this award with 2,179 yards, 19 touchdowns and just four interceptions midway through the season.

Head Coach — Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers: I don't think anyone could have predicted this kind of success for Harbaugh in his first year as a head coach in the NFL. His defense is playing at an elite level and he has Alex Smith playing safe, sound football on offense.

Offensive CoordinatorPete Carmichael, Jr., New Orleans Saints: Carmichael has helped Drew Brees get back on track after an interception-filled 2010, and he deserves a lot of credit for how well Jimmy Graham has come along and his utilization of versatile running back Darren Sproles.

Defensive Coordinator — Wade Phillips, Houston Texans: Vic Fangio of the 49ers is a strong candidate, but I have to give credit to Phillips for completely turning around the league's worst pass defense of 2010 while transitioning to the 3-4 scheme very effectively despite questionable personnel.

General Manager — Mike Brown, Cincinnati Bengals: The hands-on owner has gotten a lot of flak in the past, and much of it deserved. However, you have to give him credit for drafting well of late, landing a solid rookie quarterback in Andy Dalton, getting a nice haul for Carson Palmer via trade, and building one of the league's best defenses this season.

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