NFL week 9: Ajayi, Oakland, Luck and the 49ers feature in our mid-season awards

Atlanta Falcons tight end Levine Toilolo scores a touchdown past Tampa Bay Buccaneers free safety Bradley McDougald

So the NFL season has passed its mid-way point and the countdown begins to see who will make it to the post-season. It's clear cut in some cases - in others rather murky.

Give it a couple of weeks and the play-off picture will start to clarify, with key divisional battles separating teams from the pack.

As we wait for that to happen, let's take a moment to hand out some mid-season awards. As you will soon gather, most categories aren't necessarily official.

Biggest surprise

Oakland Raiders. I was excited about their prospects before the season started but to lead the tough AFC West, and be 5-0 on the road, is possibly more than they would have expected.

They now have a critical four-game home stretch in which they must really go at least 3-1. That's because three of their last four weeks are on the road against divisional rivals. But they are young, exciting and fun to watch.

Honourable mention: Dallas Cowboys.

Biggest disappointment

Jacksonville Jaguars. I thought the same about the Jaguars as I did with Oakland pre-season. That quarterback Blake Bortles, entering his third year, would continue on an upward curve and a defence filled with talent would put pressure on opposing quarterbacks and tighten up against the run.

That defence has allowed 28 points per game and opponents average 124 yards a game rushing against them. Yes, they are young but I expected more, as would owner Shad Khan. The Jaguars' poor performances will most likely see the end of head coach Gus Bradley.

Honourable mentions: Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Blake Bortles of Jacksonville Jaguars
Blake Bortles has thrown nine interceptions and just 12 touchdowns in seven games this season

Offensive MVP

Matt Ryan (Atlanta). The Falcons defence concedes almost 29 points a game on average, but in the spirit of "we're going to score one more than you" the offence has been explosive.

It is thanks to offensive co-ordinator Kyle Shanahan's play calling and the execution of veteran quarterback Ryan.

His statistics are as follows: a 70% completion rate, almost 3,000 yards, 23 touchdowns, only four interceptions and a quarterback rating of 119. And he has seven games to go.

Honourable mentions: Julio Jones (Atlanta), Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas), Derek Carr (Oakland), DeMarco Murray (Tennessee), Matt Stafford (Detroit).

Defensive MVP

Von Miller (Denver). Because he is.

Honourable mentions: Marcus Peters (Kansas City), Aaron Donald (Los Angeles), Lorenzo Alexander (Buffalo), Zach Brown (Buffalo), Kwon Alexander (Tampa Bay), Cliff Avril (Seattle).

Von Miller
Von Miller was Superbowl MVP when the Broncos beat the Panthers in February

Rookie of the year

Ezekiel Elliot (Dallas). Elliot was drafted into a good situation, with the Cowboys having one of the most marauding set of run blockers in the league.

However, Elliot, 22, has shown great strides in his awareness. When he entered the league, he hit the line at pace, relying on his natural ability to gain yards.

But he has quickly learned to be patient, let the play develop, trust the job of the offensive line and subsequently allow bigger holes to open up.

Elliot's 799 yards in seven games is stellar production and it takes so much pressure away from his fellow rookie, quarterback Dak Prescott.

Honourable mentions: Dak Prescott (Dallas), Joey Bosa (San Diego), Carson Wentz (Philadelphia), Jordan Howard (Chicago)

Captain Scarlet award for indestructibility

Andrew Luck (Indianapolis). How he puts numbers up the way he does is beyond me, especially as he gets hit seemingly every play.

The Colts offensive line is so bad that the opposition nearly gets to him even when he is just handing the ball off. Hang in there Andy.

The "did you keep the receipt" award for worst free-agent signing

The Houston Texans. Specifically for throwing bucket loads of cash at quarterback Brock Osweiler who played half a season in relief of Payton Manning last year.

Osweiler, whose contract is worth $72m (£57m), has just 1,700 yards, nine touchdowns, nine interceptions and a rating of 73.1 in eight games. Ridiculously, the Texans may still win the AFC South.

Brock Osweiler of the Houston Texans
Osweiler won the Superbowl with the Denver Broncos last season but has underwhelmed since his big-money switch to Houston

The "two left feet" award

Roberto Aguayo (Tampa Bay). It has not been a great season for kickers, especially after the 27- and 24-yard misses of potential game-winning kicks by Steven Hauschka and Chandler Catanzaro in the tied game between Seattle and Arizona two weeks ago.

But Aguayo is in another league, and having a tough rookie year. Drafted in the second round by the Buccaneers, the 22-year-old was as close to automatic for his college, Florida State, as you could get. A sure thing, a dead cert.

Yet he has performed as though his feet are on the wrong legs and, every time his team get in range, you have to watch through the cracks in your fingers.

He has missed five out of 12 field goals - the longest from 43 yards - and two extra points.

The "they're in the AFC title game already so let's ignore them" award

The New England Patriots.

New England Patriots
With a three-game lead in the AFC East, the Patriots can pencil themselves in for a play-off run this season

The "we are 0-8 but there is a team worse than us" award

The Cleveland Browns have lost all eight games, but I believe the 49ers are way worse.

The Browns have been competitive in more than a few games and have lots of high-round draft picks coming in the next two years. They used one of them to trade for stud linebacker Jamie Collins from New England this week.

I have hope for the Browns, I don't for the 49ers. They are sad.

The Joss Stone "surprised they made it in the States but they did" award

Jay Ajayi. After injury and a petulant incident about playing time, the London-born Dolphins running back has finally broken out with back-to-back 200-yard games.

Miami were floundering and Ajayi's performance has breathed fresh hope into the franchise.

Jay Ajayi of the Miami Dolphins
In his last outing, Ajayi became only the fourth running back in NFL history to rush for back-to-back 200-yard games

Most descriptive official award

Jeff Triplette. The NFL has decided to clamp down on celebrations. The fact that everyone who isn't NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell loves it, is besides the point.

Earlier in the season, Josh Norman, the Washington Redskins cornerback, intercepted a past, went over to the sideline and pretended to be an archer.

Yellow penalty flags flew and head official Triplette boomed over the stadium speakers: "Unsportsmanlike conduct, number 24, shooting a bow and arrow."

A Mr R Hood from Sherwood Forest State, is currently sliding down next years draft boards.

The "over here, over here, look at me, look at me" award

Cam Newton. In post-game press conferences the Carolina Panthers quarterback has a wardrobe that those who lived in the 1960s and 1970s would find noisy, with hats that defy any standards of decency.

Cam - be a leader, quit with the stupid attire and win some games. Win a Superbowl ring, wear what you like.

If you have any more of your own awards, we will read them out on Sunday's live NFL from 8pm on 5 live Sports Xtra, where we will have commentary of the Indianapolis Colts at the Green Bay Packers.

A huge game for both teams as they try to stay in touch with the leaders of their respective divisions.

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