Well, 25 percent of the NFL season is now in the books, which means it’s time for about 100 percent of the NFL media to hand out awards to the "Best," "Worst" and "Most Surprising" players, teams and coaches so far this year.
It’s basically the NFL’s version of the snub column written each July after the rosters for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game are announced.
“Anything newsworthy happen this week?”
“No, but an arbitrary percentage of games have been played, so let’s hand out some hardware.”
That seems to work for the columnists who are unduly influenced by the "Best," "Worst" and "Most Surprising" things in life. I prefer to focus on the "Most Mediocre" and the "Least Surprising," probably because I’ve been watching the New York Giants quite closely this season, and they have been rife with mediocrity and predictability.
Sure, the Giants rolled over Washington last week, one week after beating the Texans. But the team’s two-game winning streak -- their longest of the season – brings their record to 2-2 at the quarter-mark. That’s two up, two down, for a .500 winning percentage -- you can’t get more mediocre than that, I checked.
The Giants are the Most Mediocre team in the NFC East. They’re not in first place (the Eagles and Cowboys, 3-1) and they’re not in last (Washington, 1-3).
Big Blue is also the Most Mediocre team from New York. The 2-2 Bills are tied for first place in the AFC East, while the 1-3 Jets are alone in last.
Granted, the Giants are trending in the right direction, but so were the Steelers when they steamrolled the Panthers on the road on Sunday Night Football two weeks ago. Pittsburgh was back! They were 2-1 and had separated themselves from the morass of mediocrity straddling the NFL’s midsection!
A week later they lost at home to the Buccaneers, whose signal achievement to that point in the season was giving up 35 points in one half to the Falcons.
No, Pittsburgh was not back. They had merely bludgeoned an inferior team and gotten a lot of different players involved on offense. You could say that’s balance, or you could say that highlights the fact that the Panthers have holes everywhere. It’s like a create-your-own adventure book, which is what makes writing about the NFL so pleasurable.
Pittsburgh, like the Giants, is now 2-2. They are among 13 teams – or nearly half of the NFL – sitting at .500 with 25 percent of the season completed. The Steelers now travel to Jacksonville, where a win against Blake Bortles and Co. would push Pittsburgh to 3-2 and back into the conversation for best team from Pennsylvania.
The Giants, meanwhile, host the Falcons, a team that has lost nine of its last 10 road games. A win over Atlanta would prove the Giants are capable of doing what 90 percent of other teams have done before them.
The Giants beating the Falcons would win the Least Surprising award for this season, so far. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. We’ll get to that during our awards column marking the midway point of the season.
Cameron Martin writes about the Giants for NBCNewYork.com. Martin has written for The New York Times, ESPN.com, The Atlantic, CBS Sports and other publications.