Team of the half-year: Eagles
They have the NFL’s best record (7-1), its longest win streak (six) and have matched last year’s win total. Last year, the Eagles went 2-4 in division games and 5-7 against the NFC. This year, they’re 3-0 and 6-0, respectively.
Coach of the year: Sean McVay, Rams
In a copycat league, every downtrodden team will now scour the country looking for 31-year-old offensive geniuses. Actually, this pup was only 30 when he got hired. At 5-2, L.A. already has surpassed last year’s win total by one. But that’s not all. A year ago, the Rams were last in the league in scoring (14.0) and 30th in points differential (minus-10.6). This year, they’re second in scoring (30.3) and first in points differential (plus-10.6).
Biggest disappointment: Giants
Not even close. The bluster that went into the preseason Super Bowl hype after last year’s 11-win season further weakens the low value of preseason prognostications. No way Ben McAdoo survives this dysfunction.
Assistant Coach of the Year: Todd Wash, Jaguars
The Jaguars (4-3) have surpassed last year’s win total by one. They’re one of the more inconsistent teams in the league, but they’re winning, which is highly unusual considering they’ve lost 11 or more games in each of the past six years. Head coach Doug Marrone, who had his interim tag removed before the season, is an offensive guy. So it’s Wash, the 49-year-old second-year defensive coordinator, who is behind the “Sacksonville” unit that’s leading the league in fewest points allowed (15.7) and sacks per pass play.
Best free-agent signing: Case Keenum, QB, Vikings
There was no ripple effect whatsoever when the Vikings gave Keenum a one-year, $2 million deal to hold a clipboard. Half a season later, the Vikings are 6-2 with Keenum playing all but six quarters. It’s been a season-saving addition.
Most interesting trade: Jimmy Garoppolo to 49ers
I’m not alarmed by the Patriots trading both of Tom Brady’s backups — Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo — during the season. Other teams overvalue New England quarterbacks, while the Patriots just plug another one into their system. In this case, all they had to do was take San Fran’s second-rounder and wait for the 49ers to release Brian Hoyer, who spent 2009-11 in New England’s system.
Defensive Player of the Year: Calais Campbell, DE, Jaguars
The prized free-agent acquisition has 10 sacks in seven games for a Jacksonville team that’s 4-3 with Blake Bortles at quarterback. Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen, the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for October, is right up there as well.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Kareem Hunt, RB, Chiefs
He was in a tight race with Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson until Watson went down for the season with a torn ACL in Thursday’s practice. Watson might still get some votes. That’s how electric his half-season was. Hunt leads the league in rushing (763) and yards from scrimmage (1,070).
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Saints
New Orleans is 5-2 and playing its best defense in years after starting 0-2. One of the main reasons is Lattimore, the 11th overall draft pick. He has two interceptions, seven passes defensed, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a touchdown.
Most Valuable Player: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
I tried to overthink a way out of going with Brady. Not sure you’ve noticed, but the 40-year-old has collected a few trinkets in his time. Carson Wentz probably is the front-runner. Alex Smith and his near-flawless start certainly are up there, too. But no current healthy player could have thrown a team on his back and carried it like Brady did when the Patriots had the worst defense in the league for the first month of the season. The defense has improved as Brady keeps controlling games with poise, precision, 16 TDs and only two INTs.
Mark Craig is an NFL and Vikings Insider. Twitter: @markcraigNFL