Thursday, November 5, 2015

2015 Midseason NFL MVP Rankings: Andy Dalton, Devonta Freeman Worth the Hardware?

This kind of list needs no introduction. Besides, you won't read it anyways. You never read an introduction to a list, let's be real.

Source: Athlon Sports

10. Drew Brees, Quarterback, New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints defense allowed Eli Manning to throw for six touchdowns and zero interceptions. OK, that is enough about how bad the Saints defense is.

Moving on, Drew Brees sure looks like he's heard enough about his career being on the decline. Brees has the Saints riding a three game win streak and at 4-4 they are right in the thick of the NFC. With another half of the season to go, they are no where near out of the wildcard race. Brees is on pace to finish close to another 5,000 yard season to go with 30 touchdowns. If he hits those numbers and the Saints get in, why not?

Source: NFL Spin Zone

9. Adrian Peterson, Running Back, Minnesota Vikings

Guys, the Minnesota Vikings are 5-2 and one game behind the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North. Let's not pretend that Teddy Bridgewater has been a godsend. Give credit to the Vikings defense for keeping them in every game this year, but let's be honest -- without a refreshed Adrian Peterson, they wouldn't have a shot. On pace for his 7th 1,000 yard season, Peterson has to be in the MVP discussion. Will he win it? Probably not unless he takes it into another gear in the second half of the season, but he deserves to be here.

Source: American Sports Net

8. Josh Norman, Cornerback, Carolina Panthers

A cornerback? In the MVP discussion? What am I, crazy? Not quite.

Josh Norman has been the best cornerback in football in 2015, period. End of discussion. Norman has allowed 21 completions in 2015 for a total of 159 yards and one touchdown. Let that sink in for a second. In eight games, that equates to receivers catching less than three passes against him per contest. Oh, and forget about scoring touchdowns -- he simply won't let you do that.

His opposing quarterback rating is 25.5, which is by far the best in football for any cornerback playing at least 25 percent of its team's defensive snaps.

Still think I'm crazy?

Source: Atlanta Falcons

7. Julio Jones, Wide Receiver, Atlanta Falcons

The fact that Julio Jones has done what he's done this season while competing for offensive touches with the NFL's leading rusher -- later to be named on this very list -- is nothing short of unbelievable. Jones is on pace for almost 1,800 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns, playing in the same offense as a guy who has scored ten touchdowns of his own already this year -- once again, later to be named. If Matt Ryan didn't have Jones, this offense would be one dimensional. Roddy White is a shell of his former self. Outside of Jones, the Falcons don't have a guy they can go to at any point in time when they need a surefire catch. Odell Beckham Jr., DeAndre Hopkins and Antonio Brown are talked about more, but Jones is quietly rising above them all in 2015.

Source: AZ Central

6. Chris Johnson, Running Back, Arizona Cardinals

Talk about a feel-good story. The 2015 Arizona Cardinals are chock full of redemption. From Tyrann Mathieu, to Carson Palmer, to Chris Johnson, there are a few guys who have come from tough situations to produce at an All-Pro level this year. Johnson is second in the league in rushing with 676 yards and is averaging the most yards per carry (4.8) since his 2009 outpouring of 2,006 yards. At age 30, Johnson hasn't looked this good in quite some time.

Source: Sporting News

5. Devonta Freeman, Running Back, Atlanta Falcons

Let's say Matt Ryan had Julio Jones, Roddy White and a serviceable tight end, but no running game. Does he lead the Atlanta Falcons to a 6-2 record without it? Oh, wait, Ryan had that in 2014 and still couldn't produce the kind of offense the Falcons are producing this year. Freeman leads the NFL in rushing at 709 yards with nine touchdowns. He's also caught 40 passes for 353 yards and a score, giving him 1,062 total yards and ten touchdowns in eight games.

Source: Bleacher Report

4. Carson Palmer, Quarterback, Arizona Cardinals

Look, we've seen what happens to an Arizona Cardinals team with a legitimate defense and Larry Fitzgerald -- they don't win football games. Granted, this year, Chris Johnson would have a say in wins and losses without Palmer. But, without a revived Palmer, Arizona would be a wildcard longshot at best. Palmer has a chance to win, not only MVP, but NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2015 as he's led Arizona to a 6-2 record while throwing for nearly 2,400 yards, 20 touchdowns and only six interceptions thus far. Oh yeah, and he's 35 years old having come back from his second major knee injury.

Source: News Day

3. Cam Newton, Quarterback, Carolina Panthers

Name the leading receiver for the Carolina Panthers. Go ahead, I'll wait. Nope, not Greg Olsen. He's a tight end. I said receiver. Like I said, I'll wait.

Ted Ginn Jr. is the answer I was looking for. 'Wait, you mean that Ted Ginn Jr.?' Yes, that one.

11 touchdowns and eight interceptions seems pretty pedestrian, right? Sure, those numbers don't sound like much. What about his 286 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns? Still not impressed?

Here, let me try again with another statistic: 7-0.

I rest my case.

Source: FanSided

2. Andy Dalton, Quarterback, Cincinnati Bengals

If this guy doesn't win a playoff game in January, all of this goes to naught once again. But, I have reason to believe Andy Dalton is a completely different player in 2015. Before I try and 'wow' you with the numbers, just know this: His teammates and coaches have raved about the leap he's taken in terms of becoming the true leader of this club.

18 touchdowns, only four picks, career highs in completion percentage (66.2) and yards per completion (8.62), and an undefeated record should explain the rest.

Source: USA Today

1. Tom Brady, Quarterback, New England Patriots

Can we just leave it at the fact that he has his team at a perfect record, is a defending Super Bowl champion and is playing lights out football at age 38? 20 touchdowns, one interception and a rating of 115.8 in 2015 should lead you to believe he'd take the number one spot. This is an obvious choice.

Will the Real Derrick Rose Please Stand Up, and Please Shut Up?

Source: ESPN

Like most Chciago Bulls fans, I watch every game on the edge of my seat for one reason and one reason only: I am praying to the basketball gods that Derrick Rose doesn't get hurt again. Every time the man drives the lane, I feel like a parent that is worried sick for their child about to tumble down the stairs.

But, that's just it -- when he drives the lane, I get worried sick. So far through six games, Rose hasn't done that as much as he should. What has confused me, though, is the widespread belief as to the reason why he hasn't driven to the basket as much. 'His vision is still a little blurry.'

Wait, what?

If his vision is still a bit blurred, why would he opt for a step-back, pull-up or well-defended jump shot over driving the lane and potentially drawing a foul?

Now, I'll be honest. After watching his performance against a strong Western Conference contender in the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night, I put the duct tape over my own mouth. The guy was flat out unbelievable in the second half. He closed that game by himself.

So, is he back? Hold the phone, is the Derrick Rose of old back in the flesh? Don't hold your breath. It's a long season. Remember what I said about feeling like a parent worried sick over their child?

Let's shift gears for a minute. We're not too sure who the real Derrick Rose is on the court just yet. But, at the same time, we're also not too sure who he is off the court. He has always had the perception of a hometown kid who is heavily involved in the community; he could do no wrong in the eyes of Chicago.

That notion went out the window after Chicago Bulls Media Day prior to the 2015 season. Rose chose to address 2017 free agency instead the important stuff like, you know, the upcoming season.

Source: JetMag

“This whole summer I had tunnel vision. My mindset was just making sure that I was working out every day, and spending as much time as possible with my son. And focusing on those two things. Making sure my family is financially stable, as far as seeing all the money that they’re passing out in this league. Just telling the truth. Just knowing that my day will be coming up soon, and it’s not for me. It’s for P.J. (his son) and his future, so that’s what I’m thinking about now.’’

Derrick, Derrick, Derrick.

First of all, the fact that you are so "tunnel-visioned" on free agency nearly two years from now is absolutely ludicrous. But, the reasoning behind why you're so caught up in it is even more ludicrous. Your son, P.J., will be just fine on the 5-year, $95 million deal you signed with the Bulls a few years back, not to mention the fact that Adidas is paying you twice that amount ($185 million) over 13 years to wear their gear. According to Forbes, Rose was the 20th highest paid athlete for the year of 2015, and he's barely touched the court.

Why do I bring up this media day interview? Brian Windhorst reported on the apparent 'impending breakup' between he and the Bulls, stating that it had already begun and that the Bulls have moved on. Now, Windhorst threw absolutely zero factual basis in his report and named no sources. But, could he be right? Oh, absolutely, he could.

If Rose continues to spit nonsense in front of the media, it will catch up with him. Sure, only his coaches and teammates know how committed he is to the organization. But, you have to believe his publicity team shapes up his media game sooner or later, right?

If he doesn't show consistency on the court in the least bit, the Bulls may have other plans after his deal is up in 2017, and he very well could be looking at a pay-day elsewhere. The jump shots haven't fallen early on. He has defied his coach at times, opting for an outside shot versus cutting to the basket on a called play by Fred Hoiberg in the waning seconds of a tie game.

I say all of this in the truest, most honest means that I possibly can. I have been, and will be, a Chicago sports fan until I die. But, part of that means supporting the organizations in Chicago over the players at times. Do I take a particular liking to certain players? Of course, that's why there are about 40 jerseys hanging in my closet. But, do those players always remain the same? Do they always remain in Chicago? Rarely.

People change. Players change. Sometimes, it's for the better; other times, for the worse. Sometimes, they return to the form fans are used to; other times, they don't. Sometimes, their heart falls out of love with the game; other times it doesn't. Sometimes, it takes a change of scenery to provide the spark needed; other times, it doesn't. Derrick Rose has been on quite the journey, gone through several changes, faced many trials, said a handful of stupid things, been involved in a few rumors, and surely has us wondering... Who is he, really?

Source: FanSided

With that, I have this to ask -- will the real Derrick Rose please stand up?