Cubs

NFL Power Rankings - Week 9: Colts make monster leap

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NFL Power Rankings - Week 9: Colts make monster leap

Every Tuesday throughout the regular season, we'll be ranking all 32 NFL teams.

Take a look and offer up your thoughts in the comment box below or to us on Twitter @BearsTalkCSN.

Previousrankings: Week 1 Week2 Week 3 Week4 Week 5 Week6 Week 7 Week 8

SK JF Comments 1 SK: Surprisingly the underdog, went into Philly and stomped the Eagles.
JF: Stayed undefeated with impressive win against the Eagles. 2 SK: Much needed bye for AFC's best.
JF: Nearly blew it against the Cowboys, but Bryant's fingertips made the difference.
3 SK: Despite the W, failed to put Cowboys away when they should have.
JF: Enjoyed the BYE and now ready to build off of recent success. 4 SK: Offense continues to be inconsistent, but a win is a win.
JF: Defense continues to dominate in many ways. 6-1 is a great start to the season.
5 SK: 7 rushing yards allowed against Cardinals! Oh and Alex Smith rebounded nicely.
JF: Got past Cardinals with an impressive performance by the defense and Alex Smith
6 SK: Should NOT have been that close against the lowly Jaguars.
JF: Not dominant, but got the job done.
7 SK: Will Gronk bring the "Nutcracker" dance back to the States?
JF: Brady and Co. would probably welcome more trips to London after Sunday's win.
8 SK: Peyton Manning is showing no signs of slowing down.
JF: The Ravens are 4-0 following the BYE week under John Harbaugh.
9 SK: Only team that's been able to stop RG3.
JF: Manning, Decker and Thomas were on fire Monday night!
10 SK: Hopefully they added about 100 more runs for Ray Rice in their playbook during the bye.
JF: Took care of business against RG3 and the Redskins.
11 SK: Went into MetLife and put a whooping on the Jets.
JF: Left another win on the table.
12 SK: Looks like Thursday's loss may just be the beginning of the Vikings downfall.
JF: Still in the race, but lost another close one.
13 SK: How's Ballard's head feeling after hitting the pylon?
JF: Very impressive victory on the road against the Jets.
14 SK: The defense is really starting to struggle in Seattle.
JF: The defense struggled for the second straight game.
15 SK: Offense isn't the issue in Washington, but the defense is another story...
JF: Peterson is back, but the defense has been BAD as of late.
16 SK: If only Bryant's fingers were a little smaller...
JF: Rebounded after Monday's loss, Stafford pulled it out in the 4th quarter...again.
17 SK: Things don't get any easier with Green Bay and Atlanta on tap.
JF: A win over the Chargers now has the Colts sitting 1 game above .500.
18 SK: Could Dougie "Fresh" Martin challenge RG3 for Rookie of the Year?
JF: Offense continued to burden Arizona in loss to 49ers.
19 SK: Clock's ticking on Andy Reid, but Nick Foles is NOT the answer.
JF: Couldn't get back on track against the Browns.
20 SK: Desperately need to beat Broncos or they could fall out of AFC North race.
JF: Did they play this week? It doesn't feel like it.
21 SK: It's about time they fed DMC the rock.
JF: Impressive win in Minnesota after heartbreaking loss to Saints 2 weeks ago.
22 SK: Is Titus Young Sr. Stafford's new go-to-guy?
JF: Will they take the next step this week?
23 SK: Allowing 75 points in the last two games isn't going to get it done in St. Louis.
JF: Proved me wrong, even though it was against the Chiefs.
24 SK: Their secondary is just absolutely brutal.
JF: Still think they're right there. Tough loss against the Patriots.
25 SK: I'll say it again: Was Norv Turner fired yet?
JF: The Broncos defense really kept Brees and the Saints in check.
26 SK: Collapsed against Colts. Time to go back to Locker?
JF: Maybe not as close as I originally thought.
27 SK: Will Tebow be traded before Thursday's deadline?
JF: Hasselbeck couldn't work his magic in OT against Indianapolis.
28
SK: Don't expect the defense to improve with rough matchup against Texans on Sunday.
JF: A win was in their grasp against the Bears, but let it slip away.
29 SK: Their still ways away, but Cleveland will be a force in the coming years.
JF: What Bills team will we see coming off the BYE?
30 SK: Had a chance to put the Bears away, but choked.
JF: The defense was outstanding in their victory against the Chargers.
31 SK: Great effort in Green Bay, but couldn't get it done.
JF:Solid effort against the Packers, but another loss is another loss.
32 SK: It may be time for Scott Pioli to work on his resume and look for other jobs.
JF: Failed to show up in a winnable home game against the Raiders.

Why did Kris Bryant get a first-place vote in this year's National League MVP balloting?

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USA TODAY

Why did Kris Bryant get a first-place vote in this year's National League MVP balloting?

Kris Bryant was the 2016 National League MVP. And despite having what could be considered an even better campaign this past season, he finished seventh in voting for the 2017 edition of the award.

The NL MVP was awarded to Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton on Thursday night, a fine choice, though it was nearly impossible to make a poor choice, that's how many fantastic players there were hitting the baseball in the NL this season.

After Stanton, Cinicinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto finished second, earning the same amount of first-place votes and losing out to Stanton by just one point. Then came Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon and Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon ahead of Bryant.

But there was someone who thought Bryant deserved to repeat as the NL MVP. Yes, Bryant earned a first-place vote — as did everyone else mentioned besides Rendon, for that matter — causing a bit of a social-media stir considering the Cubs third baseman, despite his great season, perhaps wasn't as standout a candidate as some of the other guys who finished higher in the voting.

So the person who cast that first-place vote for Bryant, MLB.com's Mark Bowman, wrote up why he felt Bryant deserved to hoist the Kenesaw Mountain Landis Memorial Baseball Award for the second straight year.

"In the end, I chose Bryant because I believe he made the greatest impact, as his second-half production fueled the successful turnaround the Cubs experienced after the All-Star break," Bowman wrote.

"Though I don't believe the MVP must come from a playoff contender, in an attempt to differentiate the value provided by each of these three players (Bryant, Votto and Stanton), I chose to reward the impact made by Bryant, who produced the NL's fourth-best OPS (.968) after the All-Star break, when the Cubs distanced themselves from a sub-.500 record and produced an NL-best 49 wins."

It's easy for Cubs fans and observers to follow that logic, as the Cubs took off after the All-Star break following a disappointing first half. As good as Bryant was all season long, his second-half numbers, as Bowman pointed out, were especially great. He hit .325 with a .421 on-base percentage and a .548 slugging percentage over his final 69 games of the regular season, hitting 11 home runs, knocking out 21 doubles and driving in 35 runs during that span.

Perhaps the craziest thing about this year's MVP race and Bryant's place in it is that Bryant was just as good if not better than he was in 2016, when he was almost unanimously named the NL MVP. After slashing .292/.385/.554 with 39 homers, 102 RBIs, 35 doubles, 75 walks and 154 strikeouts in 2016, Bryant slashed .295/.409/.537 with 29 homers, 73 RBIs, 38 doubles, 95 walks and 128 strikeouts in 2017.

Of course, the competition was much steeper this time around. But Bryant was given the MVP award in 2016 playing for a 103-win Cubs team that was bursting with offensive firepower, getting great seasons from Anthony Rizzo (who finished third in 2016 NL MVP voting), as well as Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist. While the Cubs actually scored more runs this season and undoubtedly turned it on after the All-Star break on a team-wide basis, Bryant was far and away the best hitter on the team in 2017, with many other guys throughout the lineup having notably down years and/or experiencing down stretches throughout the season. Hence, making Bryant more, say it with me, valuable.

So Bowman's argument about Bryant's impact on the Cubs — a team that still scored 822 runs, won 92 games and advanced to the National League Championship Series — is a decently convincing one.

Check out Bowman's full explanation, which dives into some of Bryant's advanced stats.

HandiKapping presented by Xpressbet

HandiKapping presented by Xpressbet

In the latest edition of HandiKapping presented by Xpressbet, NBC Sports Chicago's David Kaplan makes his picks for the weekend.

Kap made his picks with the help of Eddie Olczyk this week.