The First Read: Unconventional midseason awards; plus, MVP rankings and Week

Vikings next opponent:

Best return on offseason investment (offense): Derek Carr, QB, New Orleans Saints. Carr hasn’t been exceptional in his first season with the Saints, but this franchise also didn’t need him to be that. New Orleans simply wanted a quarterback who could be reliable, which is what Carr has supplied lately. The Saints had an especially rough stretch to start the year, scoring just 62 points combined in their first four games. But they’ve averaged 26.6 points over their last five games, with Carr playing his best football. He’s completed at least 69 percent of his passes in the Saints’ last three wins – including Sunday’s 24-17 victory over Chicago – and he’s amassed six touchdowns and no interceptions in those contests. That’s plenty good enough to get it done in the NFC South, where Carr is easily the best quarterback in the division. There are other players worth consideration in this category (like Philadelphia running back [D’Andre Swift]

(D'Andre Swift Stats, News and Video - RB | and Chicago wide receiver D.J. Moore), but it’s hard to compete with Carr’s overall importance. The Saints have struggled at this position since Drew Brees left town. Carr is giving them a chance to be a playoff contender once again.

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