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SB Nation Reacts: Unsteady Colts keep fan’s trust; Midseason NFL awards leaders; Week 10 fan picks

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to SB Nation Reacts where SB Nation gets fan reactions from the previous week’s results, as well as asking questions about the coming week’s slate. We also take a look at the weekly changes in confidence level from the team’s fans.

The Indianapolis Colts are coming off of a Week 9 matchup with the Baltimore Ravens in which they had an opportunity to knock of one of the AFC’s elite teams at the midway point in the season. Unfortunately, turnovers, and inconsistencies were the perfect cocktail for the Ravens to stave off early defensive dominance by the Colts, and now the team sits at 5-3.

That record may seem acceptable at this stage in the season, but the Colts have yet to beat a bonafide playoff contender and now the vast majority of their divisional matchups will be coming heavy and fast. Starting with the matchup with the Tennessee Titans this Thursday, the Colts will face divisional opponents in four of their next six games.

Adding in Green Bay, Las Vegas, and Pittsburgh — all with strong playoff possibilities, and a much more difficult schedule than that of the Colts — sprinkled in there over the next seven games, and you’ve got a hot second half of the season.

But, all isn’t lost quite yet. We know that the Colts’ strong defense has been keeping them in some games this year, and at times the offense has looked impressive. While currently sitting at 5-3, the Colts, with a win against the Titans (6-2), will take back first place in the AFC South, as they’ll hold the tie breaker despite identical records.

We’re a long way from that, however, but the team’s fans are still confident that the Colts can turn it around and take out their Nashville counterparts. Over the last two weeks, fan’s confidence level in the Colts stayed up at 93 percent, and though there was an expected dip this week following an ugly loss, that confidence level is still strong sitting at 81 percent.

It may be a little too high given that the Colts have had some real struggles offensively throughout the season (especially last week). Yet, fans apparently are forgiving them for the time being, and with a strong showing Thursday night, their trust in Frank Reich and this Colts squad will feel justified.

Moving on to our national questions in this week’s survey, we get into the early candidate, and leaders for MVP, Rookie of the Year, and Defensive player of the Year.

First we start with the Rookie of the Year. This award has somewhat been an inconsistent predictor of long term, high-level play from some of its winners over the past couple decades. Guys like Sam Bradford and Percy Harvin were around for a good while, but neither really maintained the talent they were thought to once have. Others like Eddie Lacy, Vince Young, and Robert Griffin III were largely a flash in the pan in the grand scheme of it all.

Others such as Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Adrian Peterson, and Odell Beckham Jr. have all been game-changers throughout the majority of their careers — and that’s exactly what we hope to see with the winners of this award each year.

This year there are some legitimate standouts who run a real shot at taking the award, and certainly earning the hardware. As far as the current list that we’re running, I’d say that the top three in votes to this point are interesting and look to have what it takes to make a real career in the NFL.

Those top three are Justin Herbert (39%), Joe Burrow (33%), and Chase Claypool (9%). Number four on this list, Tua Tagovailoa, simply has not given us enough of a sample size to determine how well he’ll play this season. Burrow, Herbert, and Claypool have all played that majority of the season up to this point.

Many Colts fans will believe that rookie safety Justin Blackmon at least belongs on this list with his 17 total tackles, 2 interceptions and 6 passes defensed, but his resume will need to inflate in the second half of the season in order to get onto this list that’s dominated by offensive players.

I think it’s relatively easy to say that Herbert deserves to be leading this survey. He’s been excellent thus far, and though the Chargers aren’t toting an impressive record right now, but he’s been pulling his own weight. Herbert has racked up nearly 2,200 passing yards, 17 touchdowns, and has a 67.3% completion rate, and those numbers are anything to scoff at through 7 games — for any NFL quarterback.

Burrow, for that matter, is a very deserving number two in this race for his efforts with an equally dismal franchise that he’s attempting to resurrect. His nearly 2,300 yards through the air, and 67% completion rate is worthy, but he’s only thrown 11 touchdowns thus far and he’s played all 8 games of the season versus only 7 for Herbert.

To be perfectly honest, these two should continue to dominate the top of this category if they continue their impressive play throughout the entire season.

Now let’s move on to the Defensive Player of the Year award.

This year’s candidates are really fun to be watching right now. You’ve got Aaron Donald and Myles Garrett, who are currently tied for the league lead in sacks (9), and are both on pace for All-Pro seasons. You’ve also got T.J. Watt very much in the mix with 7 sacks, and is on pace to destroy his previous three season’s totals in tackles for loss, and QB hits.

Budda Baker has made his way into the top four of vote getters as well, but the three above mentioned defenders have a commanding lead in this category. Garrett also leads the league in forced fumbles, so with at least a share of the league lead in two categories you might think he’d be atop of the list.

Donald, though, sits at the top with 38% of the votes while Watt landed in second with 30% — and deservedly so from where I sit. Garrett has landed in third with only 14% of the votes, and though that may appear to be disrespectful, Watt and Donald just simply feel like they’re playing at another level this year.

This will be an exciting race to check back in on after the third quarter of the season.

Now we move on to the top prize outside of a Super Bowl ring — the NFL MVP race.

It’s always interesting to see the differences between Offensive Player of the Year, and the MVP race. Mainly because most MVPs tend to come from the offensive side of the ball. What’s more, is that the OPOY award comes off as a disingenuous, inclusive award that feels tertiary to that of the MVP award.

At any rate, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson are sitting atop this category. Look, Josh Allen is having a great year. He may actually top his first two seasons, combined, in a few different categories — look it up, it’s quite possible.

But, he’s not having the season that Wilson, or Mahomes are having. Wilson leads the league in touchdowns (28), and is going to blow his previous best season out of the water (35 TDs) without question, and could feasibly surpass Mahomes’ 2018 season in which he racked up 50 touchdown passes. Wilson is also on pace for over 5,000 passing yards and nearly 600 attempts — both being career highs for Wilson. Wilson’s 71% completion rate (+4.1% on WIlson) is equally impressive given the rate at which he sees pressure.

Mahomes on the other hand is right on Wilson’s heels with 26 touchdown passes, but only has a single interception on the season versus Wilson’s 8 through the first half of the season. Mahomes is also on pace for more than 5,000 yards through the air (+146 on Wilson), and leads the league with 9.6 adjusted yards per pass attempt.

Ultimately this one likely will go back and forth throughout the remainder of the year, and anyone who loves good football is 100 percent here for all of that.

We don’t have any imaging for this category, but here are the top three of the Offensive player of the Year award.

Dalvin Cook (27%)

Patrick Mahomes (22%)

Russell Wilson (20%)

As we spoke about earlier, this is very reminiscent of how the survey is turning out the MVP votes for NFL Reacts. I do love that Cook is leading the way though. Cook is currently leading the league in rushing yards (852), rushing touchdowns (12), and rushing yards per game (122.6) — and that’s only with 7 games under his belt in 2020.

Cook also is running at an amazing clip right now, gaining 6 yards per attempt good enough for third in the league. The two above him, Kyler Murray (a quarterback) and Miles Sanders (half as many carries as Cook), don’t really feel like they should occupy those spots given the circumstances. That’s not a knock on either of them, just how I see it in comparison to a guy with over 140 carries on the season, who’s on a team that has really struggled to pass the ball over long stretches.

I don’t know if Cook can potentially get his way into the MVP conversation by season’s end, but he would at least take this one hands down if he continues to put up the numbers he has to this point.

Finally we come to the fan picks for the Week 10 slate:

This week’s “game of the week” comes down to the Bills-Cardinals matchup (30%), and the Seahawks-Rams meeting (25%). The Colts-Titans matchup gained 13% of the votes, and sits in third place.