With Week 10 of the 2020 NFL Season (we didn't think we would get here😭) set to start Thursday at 8:20 PM with a divisional matchup between the Colts and Titans, we have reached the halfway point of the season. There were many questions entering into the season amidst a pandemic on whether or not teams would be able to properly social distance and have somewhat of a normal season. Although there have been some individual team outbreaks every other week, and games have been postponed or rescheduled as a result, the NFL has surprisingly run smoothly over these past ten weeks. Teams have been strict about wearing their masks on the sideline(or facing fines in the tens of thousands) and keeping players that test positive/ have been in contact with people that have on the COVID-19/IR list restricting them from joining team operations until they test negative.
This season has been exciting and filled with memorable highlights that have kept fans glued to their TVs every Sunday, Monday, Thursday (even some Tuesdays). As we enter the second half of the season it is time for playoff standings to shape up and star players to separate themselves from the rest of the bunch. Here's an insight into what the AFTR PRTY Sports Team predicts the rest of this season to play out:
Who will win MVP?
Charlie Benjamin: Patrick Mahomes. The obvious choice, but you simply can't argue with an 8-1 record to go along with 25 touchdowns and one measly interception. Mahomes continues to make the hardest position in professional sports look simple. Crazy that the kid is just 25 years old, as it feels like he's been a perennial MVP candidate for a decade at this point.
Jarrett "Lil Short Cuz" Hoffman: Aaron Rodgers has been the most consistent quarterback in the NFL today. Minus the Buccaneers game, he has thrown 2+ touchdown passes for 200+ yards and 0 interceptions in each game this season.
Kobe Dellers: Patty Mahomes. As much as I want to say Russell Wilson, Mahomes is going to end up running away with this. 25 TD's and 1 pick so far this season and fastest ever to 100 TD's. If he doesn’t get hurt it's a lock.
Jack Emilius: Patrick Mahomes. He’s objectively the best QB in the NFL and maybe the best ever; his numbers will be as good as Russell’s at the end of the day.
Busti the Bookie: Russ.
Jalen Carr: It's gonna be close but I think that Russ can lock it up barring injuries. Besides the Buffalo Bills game, he has been nothing short of amazing leading the league in passing TDs this season. He will have to continue playing at an unreal level and keep winning games in order to stay ahead of guys like Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers.
NFC Title Game?
Charlie: Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints. In my mind, there are three aspects to ultra-successful teams (to varying degrees): A great quarterback, a stingy defense, and a dominant offensive line. Both the Packers and Saints have their weaknesses, to be sure, but they (mostly) check those boxes. Also, who else would you choose at this stage? The Seahawks have an unbelievable quarterback, but their defense and offensive line are GARBAGE. The Buccaneers are certainly an option, and maybe it's naive to write off the GOAT, but I'm not ready to pick them after watching the Saints utterly dismantle them on primetime TV. Sign me up for a classic Rodgers/Brees showdown in January.
Jarrett: Green Bay Packers vs New Orleans Saints. From top to bottom, the Packers and Saints are the best two teams in the NFC. I have the Packers winning but the key to this matchup will be the defenses.
Kobe: Saints vs. Seahawks. Like I said above, Russell Wilson is playing like an MVP. Their passing game with DK and Tyler Lockett is elite. On the other hand, the Saints passing game has been pretty average this season, in part due to the destroyer of fantasy seasons, Michael Thomas. But I expect the Saints to over-perform in the playoffs on the back of Alvin Kamara and some sneaky coaching from Sean Peyton.
Jack: Packers vs Buccaneers. The Saints looked good in primetime but I’m not buying the hype. Both these teams have had an off game or two but I credit that more to a lack of preseason/camp. Seahawks are realistically the only other team I would say has a legit argument at this point.
BTB: Saints vs. Seahawks. Saints beat them in a close one.
Jalen: Packers vs. Seahawks. Both of these teams have seen success this season behind high-powered offenses. I think that the Seahawks are stacked offensively, but the Packers will beat them with a stronger defense.
AFC Title Game?
Charlie: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers. I'm not betting against Mahomes, and the Steelers have really shown me something this season. That defense is elite, Big Ben is doing enough to win ball games, and their offensive line isn't what it once was, but still solid. The Steelers have already beaten the Titans and the Ravens, too. When will Mike Tomlin get the credit he deserves?
Jarrett: Pittsburgh Steelers vs Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are a lock for the AFC Championship game; they are clearly the best team in the AFC for me. Every other team in the AFC, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, have questions around their teams. With that being said, the Steelers question marks are not as great as the others so I choose them to lose to the Chiefs.
Kobe: Chiefs vs. Steelers. Taking the safe picks here. Don’t see anybody (but the Steelers) stopping this Chief offense in the playoffs, even with Leveon in the mix ruining the locker room chemistry. Steelers have started 8-0 for the first time in franchise history. Of the 26 teams to start 8-0, 15 have made it to the Super Bowl. I’m a Steelers fan, so yeah they’re not only making it, they're winning it all.
Jack: Chiefs vs Steelers: Chiefs O and Steelers D will be the reason this game happens, as well as being a gross matchup. The Chiefs are much more of a lock to me in this game, but the way the Steelers are rolling I can see them getting past some of the tougher teams like the Ravens, Bills, or Titans.
BTB: Ravens vs. Chiefs. I still have faith in Lamar and their defense to be lethal in the playoffs.
Jalen Carr: Chiefs vs Steelers. They have separated themselves from the rest of the conference as the two best teams. I think that the Ravens could sneak their way into the AFC Championship game as well but they need to seriously improve on their passing game as the season ends.
2020 Super Bowl Prediction
Charlie: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Green Bay Packers. Again, no need to elaborate on the Chiefs. Have you watched Aaron Rodgers closely this year? He has a different attitude. He's taking an almost maniacal amount of joy in beating other teams to submission. Maybe the organization lit a fire under his ass when they drafted Jordan Love in the first round? Whatever the reason, I'm not betting against the BAAAAAAAAD MAN this season... at least until the Super Bowl... because I think the Chiefs are going back-to-back.
Jarrett: Kansas City Chiefs vs Green Bay Packers. Patrick Mahomes vs Aaron Rodgers. That just sounds like history in the making. With that being said I have the Chiefs winning because they are the better overall team.
Kobe: Seahawks vs. Steelers. Steelers by 90, see above.
Jack: Chiefs vs Packers. Chiefs steamroll the AFC, Packers beat the Bucs in a heartbreaker. Packers lose by more than a score in this one. They hang around in the first half but end up getting rocked in the second getting Mahomes his second ring.
BTB: Ravens vs. Saints. Lamar wins his first championship and silences all the doubters.
Jalen: Chiefs vs. Seahawks. Unless the Ravens get it together the Chiefs are going to run through the AFC and lock up their second super bowl game in just as many years. I am sticking to my preseason prediction the Seahawks make it to the Superbowl but I don't know if anyone is stopping Patty from getting his second ring.
Most Overrated Player, So Far?
Charlie: Philip Rivers. Look, it's not like people think Rivers is all that great. But remember before the season when "experts" were predicting that he might be the missing piece for a Colts' deep playoff run? Yikes. The guy is simply washed up at this point, and I honestly think the Colts would've been better off with Jacoby Brissett under center.
Jarrett: Cam Newton has been a turnover magnet for the Patriots so far this season. He has thrown seven interceptions to just two touchdown passes, he lost a fumble against the Buffalo Bills that clinched a loss for the Pats and is averaging career lows in passing yards per game and Quarterback Rating.
Kobe: Josh Jacobs. Don’t get me wrong Josh Jacobs is still a great player, but he’s definitely a bit overrated in the eyes of most fans. This is largely due to his high fantasy value, with the second most carries in the NFL at the thin RB position. But on those 161 carries, he’s only averaging 3.7 yards per carry with zero runs of 20+ yards. I think there are at least 20 backs you could put on the Raiders run-heavy offense and get similar results.
Jack: Ronald Jones Jr. A little bit of a cop out here because I’m not sure if he’s even that high in the ratings. Either way, he doesn’t deserve anywhere near the number of snaps he plays. Give Fournette a break he’s still unbelievably good he just had to deal with getting drafted by the Jags.
BTB: Josh Allen. Fuck the Bills.
Jalen: Baker Mayfield. I don't think anyone expected Baker to have an MVP season this year, but for a team with so many weapons around him, he has not utilized them to their full potential. Yes, Odell and Nick Chubb went out but I think that the Browns roster is deep and Baker just can't seem to make this offense click the way it should.
Most Underrated Player, So Far?
Charlie: Aaron Donald. I don't care that he's won the last two Defensive Player of the Year awards. I don't care that NFL players voted him the best player in the league last year. He'll never get enough love from the media and the general public to satisfy me. To do what he does, at the defensive tackle position, is nothing short of unbelievable. The Rams are favored against the Seahawks this week, and that sure as shit ain't because of Jared Goff..
Jarrett: Taysom Hill. I don’t think people talk about Taysom Hill being a jack of all trades enough. He plays quarterback, running back and wide receiver for the Saints constantly making big plays when called upon.
Kobe: Stefon Diggs. If you asked most casual NFL fans what player led the NFL in receptions and yards so far this season, I bet Stefon Diggs wouldn’t even be in most people’s top 5. He’s showing what he can do now that he has a competent QB (no Kirk doesn’t count) with 63 receptions and 813 yards through 8 games. This man deserves more respect.
Jack: Damien Harris. If you haven’t heard of this guy it’s because he shares snaps with 2 other RBs, James White and Rex Burkhead. He’s a rookie for the Pats and will shine if and when he gets a chance.
BTB: Keenan Allen. Besides Madden disrespecting him every year, Keenan Allen does not get the media praise he deserves. I will stand by my claim that he runs the crispest routes in the league. Ranking 2nd in receptions if you throw the ball his way there's a good chance he will catch it no matter the coverage.
Jalen: James Robinson. Coming out of nowhere (Illinois State) rookie RB James Robinson won the starting job after Leonard Fournette got released to the Bucs. He is in the top 10 of carries, yards, and touchdowns for a pretty awful Jaguars team. I think in the next few years he could be one of the better and more reliable running backs in the league at just 22 years old.
Most Exciting Player to Watch?
Charlie: Kyler Murray. Holy SHIT this guy is electric. His slides are one of the most aesthetically pleasing plays in all of sports. He's tiny, but can absolutely fly and has a CANNON. Watch out for the Cards in a couple of years, because this guy is the real deal.
Jarrett: Derrick Henry. Derrick Henry is not a human being. After tossing Josh Norman like a piece of paper earlier this season, and being the second-leading rusher in the NFL, there is no telling which carries Derrick Henry is going to take it to the house on any given play.
Kobe: Kyler Murray. Maybe it's because someone said Kyler Murray runs like an angry toddler and now I can’t stop laughing, but he’s so fun to watch. He slings the ball all over the place to D. Hop and old man Larry Fitzgerald. But as soon as you sell out to stop the pass, he’s juking people out in the secondary and running past you. He’s making the Cardinals fun to watch for the first time in a long time.
Jack: Dalvin Cook. Guys like Kamara and Jones are fun to watch because their dynamic and can play multiple roles, but Dalvin is something else. His downhill running strength mixed with speed has led to some crazy plays and overall performances already this year. He’s also one of the only reason the Vikings are any good.
BTB: Dalvin Cook 🍽
Jalen: Patrick Mahomes. It's kind of an easy answer but there is no other QB in the league that can do the things Patty does. Going to go down as the greatest.
Best Play of the Season, so far?
Charlie: DK Metcalf. You know those special sports highlights that literally never get old? I've watched DK chase down Budda Baker no less than 50 times, and every single time my eyes widen when DK hits the 50-yard line and TURNS ON THE JETS. The fact that he saved his team 4 points in a close game makes it so much more satisfying, too. Don't see hustle plays like that every day.
Jarrett: Nyheim Hines Flip. Don’t get me wrong Nyheim Hines screen pass touchdown against the Detroit Lions was very impressive. The way he tightroped down the sideline then hit a spin move on a defender was incredible. However, the Olympic gymnastics level flip he did to celebrate the touchdown was more impressive.
Kobe: Jets “Butt Interception.” Brought to you by the makers of the "Butt Fumble,” we introduce the "Butt Interception!” Feel like I had to give this one to the Jets cause they're not winning much else this season. But seriously, what a crazy catch by Marcus Maye.
Jack: It kinda went unnoticed but we witnessed the 5th longest QB run ever this year after an 80-yard run by... Daniel Jones??!?
Jalen: Justin Herbert's 72-yard rocket pass TD to Jalen Guyton. I think that Herbert is a legit future star and Pro-bowler in the league, and this play put the world on notice. He drops a 50-yard dime under pressure perfectly to Guyton against a dominating Bucs defense this season.