49ers in big trouble? Jaguars AFC’s best team? A.J. Brown for MVP?


5) The Vikings are done

This might surprise some of you, but I believe this is an overreaction. On Sunday afternoon, with the Vikings cruising past the woebegone Packers in Green Bay, I was ready to tout Minnesota as a playoff lock. But then Kirk Cousins’ Achilles gave out. Just brutal. I feel terrible for Cousins, an unfairly maligned player who was enjoying his best season yet. And initially, it seemed like the 4-4 Vikings were suddenly cooked.

But I have to tell you: Tuesday’s trade for Josh Dobbs was a savvy, underrated move from Minnesota GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. The veteran quarterback has already proven that he has no trouble picking up a new playbook, performing admirably in Arizona after joining the team in late August and immediately becoming the starter. With rookie wideout Jordan Addison playing at a high level, I think Dobbs can enjoy success in Kevin O’Connell’s offense — especially if Justin Jefferson’s hamstring heals up in the coming weeks.

Minnesota’s remaining schedule isn’t exactly a murderers’ row of foes. You can find five more wins, which would put the Vikings in the mix for seventh playoff slot. This isn’t a playoff guarantee — far from it — but I do believe this team still has a chance to hit the postseason.

6) The Bears made another foolish trade

Yep, that’s the case — and I remain confounded by the broader plan in Chicago. Look, I like Montez Sweat, but giving up a second-rounder at this juncture was a bizarre move by Bears GM Ryan Poles. Sweat is a pending free agent, after all, so Chicago just spent some serious draft capital on a rental. Why is a 2-6, last-place team sacrificing future assets for immediate contributions? Your guess is as good as mine. The Bears could have kept the pick and gone after Sweat in free agency this coming offseason, when they currently project to have the most cap space in the league, per Over The Cap. Or they could have addressed their D-line issues in last April’s draft by taking Jalen Carter. It’s all related and it’s a mess — just like last year’s nonsensical deadline deal.

Remember when Chicago gave Pittsburgh a second-round pick for Chase Claypool. The wide receiver’s Bears tenure lasted all of 10 games — producing a grand total of 18 catches — before Poles cut bait last month via a late-round pick swap with the Dolphins.

The Bears are on a road to nowhere in 2023, and if they keep inexplicably mortgaging the future, they’ll just continue right on down this same path for years to come.

7) The Commanders lost deadline day

NO WAY! Overreaction. Losing your top two edge rushers is never ideal, obviously, but Chase Young and Montez Sweat are both free agents-to-be. Washington received a pair of Day 2 picks, valuable draft currency for the Commanders going forward. That’s important, because this is clearly a franchise in transition.

There’s a new owner and a new direction in Washington. With that in mind, I thought the Commanders’ wheeling and dealing on Tuesday was proactive, inspired work. This organization hasn’t evoked those emotions from me too often over the last few decades.

8) A non-QB can win MVP

It’s always a longshot these days, but it at least feels possible in 2023. So no, I don’t believe this is an overreaction.

Sure, according to Caesars Sportsbook, quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa, Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson own the best odds to take home the hardware. And it’s not hard to imagine Joe Burrow and Josh Allen making a push in the second half of the season. But wideout Tyreek Hill is currently on pace to shatter Calvin Johnson’s single-season record for receiving yards. And running back Christian McCaffrey just tied Hall of Famer Lenny Moore’s NFL record by scoring a touchdown in his 17th straight game. Shoot, I haven’t even mentioned my current leader for the league’s most prestigious individual award …

Right now, at the midway point of the regular season, A.J. Brown is my MVP.

The Eagles wide receiver is the best, most consistent, most dominant player on the team with the best record. He just became the first player in NFL history with six straight games of 125-plus receiving yards. Since joining the Eagles in April 2022 via a masterful draft-day trade by Howie Roseman, Brown has changed everything for Hurts, DeVonta Smith and this Eagles as a whole. Brown’s hands, physicality and run-after-catch skills are off the charts. He routinely moves the chains and scores touchdowns. And his weekly displays of beastliness fuel highlight shows — and inherently, his MVP campaign.

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