The Green Bay Packers are coming off their bye with a 5-3 record as they prepare to face the Chicago Bears next Sunday in prime time. After a disappointing loss to the New Orleans Saints last weekend on the road, Green Bay currently sits behind Detroit who is atop the NFC North with a 6-2 record under head coach Jim Caldwell.
With the first half of football in the books, we're handing out some hardware to players after the first eight games of the season for their strong performances.
MVP: Aaron Rodgers
This award is easy. Rodgers can be thrown in the candidates for this honor across the league alongside Peyton Manning, Demarco Murray, Tom Brady and Andrew Luck. Even though he ranks 13th in yardage (2,092), he ranks sixth in the league in touchdowns (19) despite having a bye, while posting a league-best 113.6 passer rating.
Away from the individual numbers, Rodgers and the Packers at 5-3 and remain a Super Bowl contender despite the disappointing 44-23 loss to the Saints. With Eddie Lacy and Green Bay's rushing attack not living up to full expectations (averaging 95.6 yards per game), Rodgers has certainly been the catalyst to the Packers' good start along with a defense that found success when it was able to force turnovers.
Best offensive player: Randall Cobb
It would've been obvious to name Rodgers for this section as well, but Cobb has been off to a ridiculous start opposite of Jordy Nelson that garners some traction for this honor. Cobb is tied with San Diego tight end Antonio Gates for second place in receiving touchdowns (nine) behind league-leader Julius Thomas (who has ten), but that total is already good enough to give him the most for his career in a single season. And dating back to last year's week 17 win against Chicago, Cobb has caught a ridiculous 11 touchdowns in his last 10 games.
Cobb's yardage hasn't been eye-popping (578), but he's still among the top-20 receivers in the league along with tying DeSean Jackson for ninth in receptions of 20-plus yards. It's a great start for the team's most valuable red-zone threat.
Best defensive player: Mike Daniels
You honestly can't go wrong with either Julius Peppers or Mike Daniels for this award, but I'm going to give a slight nod to Daniels because he's still made a good impact with less to work with alongside him on the defensive front. With B.J. Raji done for season, along with Datone Jones and Josh Boyd missing time due to injuries, a lot has been asked of Daniels and he's stepped up like most expected.
Green Bay has the worst run defense in the entire league, allowing 153.5 yards per game (a total of 1,228 yards up until now), but a lot of that yardage comes from opposing teams taking advantage of Raji's absence by running north and south. Even though he's not a huge numbers player, Daniels' impact has been steady and reliable through the season getting pressure and generating stops, making him the selection.
Best performance: Jordy Nelson vs Jets - nine receptions, 209 yards, one touchdown
Rodgers' strong performances against the Carolina Panthers, New York Jets and Chicago Bears deserve nomination, but Nelson's fast start was highlighted by his career-high 209-yard day in the team's powerful second half charge against the Jets -- a brutal game for the Jets' secondary. An 80-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers after a terrific cut-back across field generated a chunk of the yardage, but his day was already strong after catching eight passes for 129 yards besides that score.
Best rookie: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Davante Adams has challenged Clinton-Dix for this honor with his snaps and targets increasing by the week, but the first-round pick from Alabama has put together a lengthier package to start the season. Clinton-Dix is coming off a rough outing in New Orleans (three missed tackles), but not to be forgotten is his seven-tackle game against the Carolina Panthers (he tied linebacker A.J. Hawk for the team-lead). His 41 tackles rank fifth among this year's rookie class, and third on the team behind Hawk (60) and secondary-mate Morgan Burnett (58). Baltimore's C.J. Mosley is arguably the favorite for the Defensive Player of the Year award (DROY), but Clinton-Dix is certainly throwing his name in the mix.
Corey Linsley deserves nomination as well for his solid play and good run blocking after stepping into the starting center job following JC Tretter's injury.
There isn't any literal hardware for these awards, but it's important to look back on the starts from these players through the first half of the Packers' season. Let us know in the comments below if you feel another player should be mentioned for an award, or any other honor you would like to hand out.
Remember to help send your favorite players to Arizona by giving them votes to this year's NFL Pro Bowl.
To buy tickets, visit the NFL Ticket Exchange.