NFL half-season awards and predictions: Patriots and resurgent Packers primed for Super Bowl run

Our writers recap the first eight weeks of the season and make our picks for the remaining games and play-offs

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The NFL has been compelling to watch throughout the first half of the season despite the New England Patriots ominously easing to an 8-0 record.

The reigning champions may well win the Super Bowl once again, but the NFC looks positively engrossing with the NFC West tossing up the potential for the Rams to go from the Super Bowl to outside in the cold given the Niners and Seahawks’s remarkable improvement.

Tom Brady might not have it his own way either, given the electric Lamar Jackson is intent on guiding the Ravens back into contention for the big dance, while Patrick Mahomes is expected to make a full recovery before the play-offs after his knee injury.

There has, of course, been plenty of drama off the field too, namely the Antonio Brown saga, which is finally fizzling out.

Here, our writers recap the first eight weeks of the season and make our picks for the remaining games and play-offs.

MVP

Jack Rathborn: Aaron Rodgers - Now healthy and able to lean a little on a fiery defence, No 12 knows what he's doing; capable of the audacious, a six-TD day and last weekend's TD pass to Jamaal Williams against the Chiefs appeared to defy physics.

Ben Burrows: Lamar Jackson - By this award’s definition how can it be anyone else? What would the Ravens be without the electric Jackson? Well we know, and no one wants to see Joe Flacco’s version again.

Harry Latham-Coyle: Russell Wilson – there are as many as six quarterbacks in contention for MVP, but I am not sure anyone is doing more with less than Wilson.

Rodgers is a leading candidate to win his third MVP (Getty)

Offensive RoY

BB: Gardner Minshew - It’s hard to overstate just how well the moustachioed magician has played in relief of Nick Foles in Jacksonville. That the Jags may never go back to the Super Bowl MVP tells you all you need to know.

HLC: Josh Jacobs – there’s a real chance that Kyler Murray pushes him out if he keeps producing at the rate he is, but Jacobs has been really, really good.

JR: Kyler Murray - a baptism of fire for Murray in the West against the toughest the league has to offer, while also being deprived of some of his best weapons due to injury, including David Johnson. If he can navigate the Air Raid offence to a record of 6-9-1 or better (currently 3-4-1 at time of writing) - with a signature division win or two - this prize should be his.

Defensive RoY

BB: Bosa - An absolute wrecking ball it appears that the younger Bosa brother is the final piece of the 49er jigsaw, almost single-handedly dragging a sub-par unit to being one of the very best defences in the league.

HLC: Bosa – honourable mentions to two other fine young pass-rushers in Josh Allen and Brian Burns, but Bosa has helped elevate the 49ers defensive unit to an elite level.

JR: Josh Allen - The former Kentucky defensive end could keep pace with Nicky Bosa after starring in a revived Jags defence aiding Gardner Minshew's offence in pursuit of the AFC South title. With seven sacks already and two forced fumbles, Allen has adapted to the NFL with ease.

Minshew has kept the Jaguars afloat without Foles (Getty)

AFC Predictions

BB: East: Patriots, West: Chiefs, North: Ravens, South: Texans, Wild Cards: Colts and Bills

HLC: East: Patriots, West: Chiefs, North: Ravens, South: Colts, Wild Cards: Bills, Texans

JR: East: Patriots, West: Chiefs, North: Ravens, South: Colts, Wild Cards: Texans and Raiders

NFC Predictions

BB: East: Cowboys, West: Niners, North: Packers, South: Saints, Wild Cards: Vikings and Seahawks

HLC: East: Cowboys, West: Seahawks, North: Packers, South: Saints, Wild Cards: Vikings and Niners

JR: East: Cowboys, West: Niners, North: Packers, South: Saints, Wild Cards: Vikings and Seahawks

Super Bowl prediction

BB: Patriots over Saints - The Pats are the best team in football and bar a catastrophe we can book them in for Miami. The Saints have overcome a lot and despite having this year's best coach New England may prove a step too far.

HLC: Patriots over Packers - It would be a real shame if we never get the Rodgers-Brady Super Bowl duel we deserve before the two all-time greats bow out. This might just be the year.

JR: Chiefs over Packers - it's all going a little too perfectly for the Patriots and the moves they are making (perhaps will make before the trade deadline) suggest Belichick is still not comfortable. They fall short here and with Brady dethroned, Mahomes and Rodgers go at it in a match for the ages.

Brady is chasing his seventh Super Bowl ring (Getty)

Moment of the season

BB: Recency bias maybe, but Aaron Rodgers’ six TD day against the Raiders. A clinic in quarterback play from one of the all-time greats.

HLC: The end of the Saints-Texans season opener in New Orleans.

JR: Patrick Mahomes torching the Raiders in the second quarter: after a sluggish start (by his standards) the MVP sliced up Oakland for 278 yards and four touchdowns in one of the most mesmerising sights in all of sport.

Fantasy moment of the season

BB: Patriots DST making Jets QB Sam Darnold ‘see ghosts’ on MNF.

HLC: The Raiders’ Darren Waller, who caught all of 51 passes as a wide receiver at run-heavy Georgia Tech in college and had hauled in just 18 in the NFL coming into this season, deciding to be not just fantasy relevant but one of the better tight ends in the league has been wonderfully bizarre and rather fun.

JR: The wasted time spent dissecting the Lions running backs after Kerryon Johnson’s injury; JD McKissic’s asinine line against the Giants of one carry for -1 yards and three receptions for just two yards for a combined 3.1 points in PPR perfectly illustrated the stupidity of fantasy at times.

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