NBA First Half Awards
With the season just over halfway done, let's look at the major awards. Feel free to disagree but it's James Hardens world right now and we're just living in it.
The Rams clinched the NFC West for the second straight season after defeating the Lions at Ford Field. The defense led the charge for the Rams, spearheaded by reigning Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, who is the favorite to capture the award again after another strong performance that included a strip-sack. Donald leads the NFL in sacks with 16.5.
Todd Gurley paced the offense, rushing for 132 yards and two TDs. He has already set a Rams single-season franchise record with 15 rushing touchdowns.
The Chiefs executed a zero-tolerance statement by releasing scumbag running back Kareem Hunt after a video leaked of him assaulting a woman. Letting go of a cost-controlled superstar—a 2017 third-round selection who led the NFL in rushing in his rookie year—on a team with Super Bowl aspirations is a difficult move, but the right thing to do.
Playing in their first game without Hunt, the Chiefs relied on MVP frontrunner Patrick Mahomes to sneak past the hapless Raiders. He threw for 295 yards with four TDs and also scampered for 52 yards in the Chiefs’ 40-33 victory. Mahomes has 41 passing TDs, becoming the third QB in league history to reach the 40 TD plateau through 12 games of a season. Peyton Manning accomplished this feat in 2004 and 2013, while Tom Brady did it 2007.
Travis Kelce set career-highs in receptions (12) and receiving yards (168) and scored two touchdowns.
Replacing Hunt as Kansas City’s No. 1 running back, Spencer Ware ran for just 47 yards on 14 carries. He did score a TD, but overall it was an underwhelming performance versus a porous Raiders’ run-defense.
Drew Brees played one of the worst games of his career on Thursday Night Football, recording only 127 passing yards with one touchdown and one inexcusable interception, which was thrown behind his running back Alvin Kamara. Brees threw four incompletions to start the contest and entered halftime logging nearly as many incompletions (six) as completed passes (seven) with a meager 39 yards as the Saints were shutout in the first half for the first time in 71 games.
This is a performance that could severely damage his MVP chances, but more importantly, it puts the one-loss Rams in the driver’s seat to finish in first in the NFC.
By defeating the Vikings, the Patriots clinched their 18th consecutive winning season, dating back to 2001. An annual juggernaut, New England has started the season 9-3 or better in nine consecutive seasons.
The Patriots played phenomenal defense on Sunday, intercepting Kirk Cousins two times and sacking him twice, while holding every Vikings player to under 50 yards receiving in the 24-10 win. It’s the second week in a row the Patriots held their opponent to one touchdown. Furthermore, the Patriots have not allowed a 300-yard passer in their last five games and haven't surrendered a 100-yard rusher in nine contests.
Fullback James Develin scored two touchdowns, while Brady reached 1,000 yards rushing for his storied career.
The Chargers erased a 23-7 halftime deficit to beat the Steelers 33-30 at Heinz Field. Keenan Allen was the star, catching 14 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown. He was also on the receiving end of a successful two-point conversion. Philip Rivers finished the night with 26 completions for 299 yards with two TDs and a 115.4 passer rating.
Los Angeles got a big boost from the previously maligned special teams unit, as Desmond King returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Michael Badgley hit a game-winning field goal from 29 yards to seal the come-from-behind victory.
The Texans are the first team in NFL history to win nine consecutive games following an 0-3 start to the season.
Houston intercepted Cleveland rookie Baker Mayfield three times, returning one for a touchdown in the 29-13 win. It was linebacker Zach Cunningham who recorded the pick-six, his first career interception.
The Bears rallied from a 10-point deficit in the final 1:13 of regulation to force overtime, but ultimately lost to the lowly Giants.
Tarik Cohen had a terrific all-around outing, rushing for 30 yards, catching 12 passes for 156 yards and throwing a game-tying, one-yard touchdown pass with three seconds remaining in regulation.
Backup QB Chase Daniel completed 26 of his 39 passes for 285 yards, a TD and two interceptions. Mitchell Trubisky will return next Sunday night against the Rams.
The incredibly efficient Russell Wilson completed only 11 passes but four of them were for TDs in the Seahawks' rout of the 49ers. Jaron Brown caught two TD passes, while Tyler Lockett and Doug Baldwin each had one touchdown.
Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner collected a 98-yard pick-six.
The Steelers choked away a 16-point halftime advantage to the visiting Chargers, the first time in franchise history they lost at home when entering halftime leading by 14 points or more.
The Cowboys’ defense shut down the Saints, who came into Thursday night averaging a league-high 37.2 points per contest and riding a 10-game winning streak. In holding the Saints to 10 points in a statement victory, the Cowboys demonstrated why they are the best team in the NFC East.
Jourdan Lewis intercepted an awful pass by Brees to clinch the win.
The offense only produced 13 points, but Dak Prescott played an efficient game, completing 24 of 28 passes (85.7 percent) and firing a TD pass to Ezekiel Elliott.
The Cowboys have won four straight and Jerry Jones’ confidence in head coach Jason Garrett is paying off.
Lamar Jackson won for the third time in three starts, potentially stealing the starting quarterback job from Joe Flacco, who is dealing with a hip injury.
Cornerback Tavon Young had a 12-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown, highlighting a dominant defensive performance. The Ravens held the Falcons to 34 rushing yards.
Cousins averaged a paltry 4.6 yards per pass attempt in an ugly showing. He needs to bounce back when the Vikings travel to Seattle for a pivotal Monday Night Football showdown.
The Broncos won for the third straight week, defeating the Bengals 24-10 behind undrafted running back Phillip Lindsay, who rushed for 152 yards and two TDs.
Carson Wentz tossed two touchdowns in the win over the Redskins on Monday Night Football, giving the Eagles consecutive victories for the first time since Nick Foles led them to a Super Bowl title last season.
The Colts were shutout in Jacksonville, wasting a perfect opportunity to sweep the season-series as Jaguars star running back Leonard Fournette missed the game due to suspension.