It certainly wasnâ€™t a pretty start to the season for the New Orleans Saints, who opened up 2016 0-3. However, since then theyâ€™ve posted a 4-1 record which includes solid wins over San Diego and Seattle.
Behind the 6-3 Atlanta Falcons in the NFC South race, the Saints are ranked second to Matt Ryan and company in points per game (30.2) but first in total yards (434.5) and passing yards per game (326.4).
New Orleans has plenty of hope playing in a weak NFC. If the Falcons continue to excel, a division title would be hard to earn for the Saints, but a wild card spot is still in their sights.
Here are your midseason awards for the New Orleans Saints heading into Week 10.
Offensive MVP - Drew Brees
Itâ€™s almost impossible to find someone better for the Saints offensively than Drew Brees. The 37-year-old has hisÂ highest touchdown percentage (6.1) in three years and already has 21 touchdowns in just eight games. His 106.6 quarterback rating is his best mark since 2010. Brees is on pace for 42 touchdowns which would mark his third 40-plus yard season and first since he did it in both 2011 and 2012. With only five interceptions, Brees is playing smart football with the weapons he has around him.
He is always fun to watch sling the ball around the field.
Defensive MVP - Nick Fairley/Cameron Jordan
The Saintsâ€™ defense still is a weakness for this team, but defensive tackle Nick Fairley and defensive end Cameron Jordan have been all over the place every week. The two biggest starters along the defensive line have combined for 6.5 sacks with Fairley owning a team-best 3.5. Of course, Jordan has been the most versatile chess piece over the years and he continues to do that with eight quarterback hurries this season. Jordan and Fairley are dangerous playing alongside one another and the more in-sync they get, the better off this defense is.
Biggest surprise - Nate Stupar
Entering this season, Nate Stupar had three starts, 25 tackles, a forced fumble and a sack to his name playing with four different teams. He got his chance with rival Atlanta last season and showcased his ability. However, the Falcons let him walk and thatâ€™s proving to be a mistake as the 28-year-old has 39 tackles, two forced fumbles and an interception this season. Stupar has started the last five games at inside linebacker and is proving to be a steal on the three-year, $5 million deal he signed this off-season.
Biggest disappointment -Â Coby Fleener
Football fans have been accustomed to seeing Saintsâ€™ tight ends put up huge numbers. It started with Jimmy Graham in 2010 and then a 35-year-old Ben Watson emerged a year ago with a big season. Coby Fleener came to town via free agency to fill that spot. So far, he has 28 catches for 359 yards and two touchdowns. Outside of a Week 3 performance with 109 yards and a score and a Week 6 game with 74 yards and a touchdown, Fleener has been held under 50 yards in the six other games. Considering he caught 50 or more passes the last three seasons in Indianapolis, it is time for him to get more involved.
Rookie of the year - Michael Thomas
In Thomas, you are looking at New Orleansâ€™ leading pass catcher. The second round rookie out of Ohio State has 47 receptions for 573 yards and five touchdowns. He fits the mold of this offense opposite speedster Brandin Cooks, and over the last four weeks alone, Thomas has 26 catches for 344 yards and three scores. At 6-foot-3, 212 pounds, heâ€™s that lengthy target that Brees loves to throw to.
Thomas is getting better each and every week. Expect him to be the teamâ€™s No. 1 receiver for years to come.