Believe it or not, we’ve reached Week 9 — the midway point — of an NFL season that’s being played smack dab in the middle of a global pandemic.
Somehow, there hasn’t been a game canceled, knock on wood.
Though normalcy and 32 COVID-free rosters are still a long way away, it has been easier than expected to focus on what’s been taking place on the field.
With that in mind, let’s update this guy’s preseason predictions with some midseason predictions and awards.
Super Bowl LV winner
Preseason prediction: Saints over Ravens.
Midseason: Steelers over Seahawks.
It’s hard to go against Kansas City and Patrick Mahomes, but Pittsburgh has the best defense and Ben Roethlisberger, a big-game quarterback and first-ballot Hall of Famer who is healthy again.
Most Valuable Player
Preseason prediction: Drew Brees, QB, Saints.
Midseason: Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks.
Letting “Russ cook” in Seattle has led to the Seahawks being the best team in the NFC despite the league’s worst-ranked defense. Think about that. Wilson, right now, is a slam dunk.
He also has 26 touchdown passes in seven games. With four more, he joins Brees and Brett Favre as the only players with at least four consecutive seasons of 30 touchdown passes. Brees had a nine-year streak, while Favre’s was five years.
Coach of the Year
Preseason prediction: Mike McCarthy, Cowboys. (O-U-C-H!)
Midseason: Kevin Stefanski, Browns.
Sorry, Mike Tomlin, Brian Flores, Bruce Arians, etc. But it’s November and Browns Football is still alive. In the middle of a global pandemic that wiped out the first offseason and preseason of a rookie head coach taking over the league’s laughingstock.
The Browns have been mauled by Pittsburgh and Baltimore — their big brothers in the AFC North. They were upset by the Raiders. But they’re 5-3 and currently hold the seventh seed in the AFC.
By comparison, there were four other teams with new head coaches this year. Their combined record in the Year of COVID: 8-23.
Defensive Player of the Year
Preseason prediction: T.J. Watt, Steelers.
Myles Garrett and Aaron Donald are tough to overlook, but Watt is the most disruptive force on the best defense in the league.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Preseason prediction: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Cowboys.
Midseason: Joe Burrow, QB, Bengals.
He’s the real deal. A star in the making with toughness, grit and five 300-yard passing games in his first eight starts.
Keep an eye on Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson. In the Year of the Rookie Receiver, he leads all with 563 yards. He also averages 18.2 yards per catch.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Preseason prediction: Chase Young, DE, Washington.
Midseason: Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Buccaneers.
There are a lot of contenders for this award, but the former Gopher is playing a lot like his dad did with the Vikings and Bills.
The only difference is Dad played cornerback. But both of them have a similar nose for the ball and feel for the game. Winfield has 44 tackles, two sacks, an interception, a forced fumble and four passes defensed while playing nearly every snap for a defense that has helped Tom Brady keep winning without Bill Belichick.
Comeback Player of the Year
Preseason prediction: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers.
Alex Smith will get plenty of consideration for simply being able to step foot back on a field. But the pick here is the guy who’s turning back the clock while leading the last undefeated team a year after major elbow surgery.
Biggest pleasant surprise
Preseason prediction: Belichick and the Patriots would win a playoff game. (O-U-C-H II!)
Midseason: The Cardinals are in the playoff hunt.
So much for Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray needing another year of seasoning. Playing in the league’s toughest division, the Cardinals (5-2) are second in the NFC West and hold the sixth playoff seed a year after going 5-10-1.
Preseason prediction: The Bills would lose their playoff opener to New England.
Midseason: The Cowboys. Period.
McCarthy managed to make Jason Garrett look really good. Wow. Don’t let people use injuries as an excuse in Big D.
In games that he started and finished, Dak Prescott was 1-3 and would have been 0-4 if the Falcons knew the rules governing onside kicks.
Mark Craig is an NFL and Vikings Insider. Twitter: @markcraigNFL. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.