PETER KING'S MIDSEASON ALL-PRO TEAM

Offense has ruled through the first half of 2011, but there have been commanding performances on defense as well
November 07, 2011

OFFENSE

Cornerback

DARRELLE REVIS

Jets

Plays WRs the way Michael Irvin used to play corners—getting away with borderline contact and making hay, as he did with his 100-yard INT return for a TD against Miami.

Quarterback

AARON RODGERS

Packers

His lowest-rated game to date (111.4): 297 yards, three TDs, one interception and a 73.7% completion rate in a 27--17 win at Chicago. Threatening nearly every single-season passing mark.

Wide receiver

CALVIN JOHNSON

Lions

Not much has changed since I asked Matthew Stafford about continually throwing to Johnson into double coverage in scrimmage. "Wouldn't you?'' Stafford said. Could surpass 20 TDs.

Wide receiver

STEVE SMITH

Panthers

Very narrowly over Pittsburgh's Mike Wallace, but Smith is on pace for 1,836 receiving yards for a team that had one of the worst offensives in football a year ago.

Slot receiver

WES WELKER

Patriots

It's a badge of honor, Tom Brady's ever-growing reliance on Welker. Last year he was targeted 123 times. This year? On pace for 190. He'll challenge Jerry Rice's yardage record.

Tight end

JIMMY GRAHAM

Saints

New Orleans coach Sean Payton knew what he was doing in letting Jeremy Shockey (10.0 yards per catch in '10) leave in favor of the 2010 third-rounder, who's averaging 14.6 per.

Left tackle

JORDAN GROSS

Panthers

Cam Newton, expected to be a scrambler, is staying in the pocket more than anyone imagined. Why? For one thing he's not feeling much heat from his blind side, thanks to Gross.

Left guard

CARL NICKS

Saints

The best guard in football over the last few years. Nicks's seal-blocking is one reason Darren Sproles has been able to burst through the line instead of going outside.

Center

SCOTT WELLS

Packers

Good centers go unnoticed, but Wells doesn't in Green Bay. You'll never see leaks over the center, never see pressure up the gut. That's significant in the beefy NFC North.

Right guard

BRIAN WATERS

Patriots

He shifted from left guard in Kansas City to right with the Pats, had no off-season program in a complicated attack and has been a better player than the Pro Bowler he already was.

Right tackle

ERIC WINSTON

Texans

Arian Foster means it when he credits his line. A one-cut-and-get-upfield back needs to have confidence in his blockers' ability to produce gaps. The powerful Winston is a pile driver.

DEFENSE

End

JARED ALLEN

Vikings

Rededicated himself after a sub-par 2010 and zoomed past last year's sack total of 11 by mid-October. A relentless attacker who chases down plays when most linemen would be jogging.

Tackle

HALOTI NGATA

Ravens

A new contract hasn't dimmed his desire or disruptive presence. Ngata clears the way for so many plays to be made behind him. No better 320-plus-pound run-pass defender in the game.

End-Tackle

JUSTIN SMITH

49ers

Underrated for too long, Smith had more combined pressures and sacks (31) than Allen (28) through Week 7 and keyed huge road wins at Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Detroit.

Outside linebacker

CLAY MATTHEWS

Packers

Poster child for why sacks are overrated. Led all players through seven weeks with 31 combined QB hits and pressures, according to ProFootballFocus.com. And sack total (three) should multiply.

Inside linebacker

NAVORRO BOWMAN

49ers

Toughest spot to pick: I could easily have chosen teammate Patrick Willis or K.C.'s Derrick Johnson. Bowman, a tackling machine, chased down Michael Vick on a third down in Week 4.

Inside-Middle linebacker

RAY LEWIS

Ravens

It's a cliché to say he's not getting older, he's getting better. But it's almost true. At 36 and in his 16th season, the original Raven is playing the run and in coverage as well as he has in years.

Outside linebacker

DEMARCUS WARE

Cowboys

He's got Bill Belichick comparing him with Lawrence Taylor and Dallas defensive boss Rob Ryan blowing the kind of smoke reserved for his dad's great old Bears. Defines impact player.

Cornerback

JOHNATHAN JOSEPH

Texans

G.M. Rick Smith preferred Joseph over Nnamdi Asomugha in free agency. Good call. Joseph's been the key to opponents' completing only 51% of their passes, down from 65% last year.

Safety

KAM CHANCELLOR

Seahawks

A fifth-round pick who saw limited action last season, the 6'3", 232-pound Chancellor conjures memories of giant Cincy safety David Fulcher. Chancellor hits like his hero Sean Taylor.

Safety

TROY POLAMALU

Steelers

I picked two strong safeties because safety has become an interchangeable position, and because Polamalu, after wearing down late last year, is back to his enforcing, blitzing self.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Placekicker

SEBASTIAN JANIKOWSKI

Raiders

Kickers are hitting with unprecedented accuracy from 50 and beyond. Seabass is 5 of 6 from 50-plus, including a record- tying 63-yarder.

Kick returner

JOE MCKNIGHT

Jets

The cry has gone from "McKnight's a bust" in 2010 to "We've got to get the ball in his hands more." That's what a 40-yard kickoff return average (including a 107-yard touchdown) will do.

Running back

MATT FORTE

Bears

On pace to surpass 950 receiving yards, a figure reached by RBs only three times, and to gain more yards from scrimmage (2,494) than Marshall Faulk or LaDainian Tomlinson ever did.

Punter

ANDY LEE

49ers

Could he break the All-Pro stranglehold of cross-bay rival Shane Lechler this year? Lee has had a better first half, and his 43.7-yard net average has given a good defense a huge edge.

Punt returner

DEVIN HESTER

Bears

With a punt and a kick return for touchdown in the first seven games, Hester is polishing his résumé for Immortalville. Remains a mystery why anyone would kick to the man.

AWARDS

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

Aaron RodgersQB Packers

In another year, this award could be Drew Brees's or Tom Brady's or Matt Forte's. But Rodgers has made a science of mistake-free quarterbacking in the first half.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER

Matt ForteRB Bears

Fudging a bit here since Rodgers is so clearly ahead of the rest, but Forte deserves a nod for gaining 6.73 yards per touch when everyone knows he's getting it all day.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER

Darrelle RevisCB Jets

Just edges the 49ers' Justin Smith. Stat of the first half, from ProFootballFocus.com: QBs throwing against Revis have a 2.9 passer rating. Uh, that's pretty good.

OFFENSIVE ROOKIE

Cam NewtonQB Panthers

The Carolina rookie is on pace for more than 4,000 passing yards, and he's doing it while staying in the pocket much more than he did at Auburn.

DEFENSIVE ROOKIE

Von MillerLB Broncos

Needs to cover and play the run better, but his instinctive moves around end have made him a premier pass-rush threat from Day One and justified the No. 2 overall pick.

COACH

Jim Harbaugh49ers

Who expected a total franchise makeover from a college coach with no off-season program? Harbaugh has turned the Niners into a team no one wants to play.

PHOTOCHRIS SZAGOLA/CAL SPORT MEDIA (REVIS) PHOTOMATTHEW CHILDS/ACTION IMAGES/ZUMAPRESS.COM (FORTE) PHOTOAL TIELEMANS PHOTODAVID E. KLUTHO PHOTOSIMON BRUTY PHOTODAMIAN STROHMEYER PHOTOBILL FRAKES PHOTOANTHONY BARHAM/SOUTHCREEK GLOBAL/ZUMAPRESS.COM PHOTOJONATHAN BACHMAN/CAL SPORT MEDIA PHOTOSCOTT BOEHM/GETTY IMAGES PHOTOTOM CROKE/ICON SMI PHOTOBRETT DAVIS/US PRESSWIRE PHOTOTHOMAS B. SHEA/GETTY IMAGES PHOTODAMIAN STROHMEYER PHOTOTOM DAHLIN PHOTOBILL FRAKES PHOTORIC TAPIA/ICON SMI PHOTOJONATHAN DANIEL/GETTY IMAGES PHOTODAMON TARVER/CSM/LANDOV PHOTOTOM DIPACE PHOTOGREG NELSON PHOTOJONATHAN BACHMAN/CAL SPORT MEDIA PHOTORICH KANE/ICON SMI PHOTOPETER READ MILLER PHOTOMICHAEL ZAGARIS/SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS/GETTY IMAGES PHOTONAM Y. HUH/AP

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