Well, midseason is upon us, and that means only one thing.

The Lions start to choke? No, that happened in week one.

Jim Fassel begins making guarantees? No, but that should happen soon.

Nate Newton tries to smoke his body weight in marijuana? Well, he’s trying, but those pesky cops keep arresting him.

Troy Aikman forgets where he is and tries to get Moose to run a draw play in the press box? No my friends, midseason means it’s time to hand out the Quick Slants Midseason Awards.

Offensive MVP: Rich Gannon — How can the 15th most prolific passer in the NFL (yardagewise) be the Offensive MVP? When his team is 7-1. When he’s thrown nine touchdowns versus just one interception. When his passer rating is tops in the league at 98.7. The Raiders may be the best team in football, and this former Viking, Redskin and Chief is the main reason why.

Defensive MVP: Michael Strahan — With Reggie White finally out of football for good and Bruce Smith on his last legs, Strahan is establishing himself as the premier pass rusher in the NFL. Warren Sapp may mean more to his team, but Strahan has mastered both the bull and speed rushes. If he keeps going at this rate, he’ll replace LT as the greatest Giant on defense. With 15 sacks in the first half alone, he should also replace Mark Gastineau on top of the single-season sack chart.

Rookie of the Year: LaDanian Tomlinson — He may be averaging just 3.6 yards per carry, but he’s done something not a lot of people could do: give San Diego a running game. If you’re looking for the number one reason why San Diego is much improved, look no further than Tomlinson. His eight rushing touchdowns lead the NFL, and he’s kept Doug Flutie from having to lead too many fourth quarter comebacks.

Coach of the Year: Dick Jauron — Granted they lost to Green Bay this week, but if Jauron can get Da Bears to have a second half as good as the first, well, let’s just say we’ll be seeing George Wendt on Saturday Night Live again soon.

NFC Super Bowl Pick: San Francisco — Maybe it’s because they’re the 49ers. Maybe it’s because Terrell Owens is the best receiver in the NFL right now. Maybe it’s because Kurt Warner seems to have an interception problem. Maybe it’s because they have E.J. But something about San Francisco tells me they can do it. They’ve rediscovered the running game, and it looks like their defense may be coming together. Owens may be bickering with Steve Mariucci, but hey, remember when the Lakers hated each other?

AFC Super Bowl Pick: Oakland — You’ve got to like any team whose coach looks like Chucky. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but the Super Bowl could very well be a Battle for the Bay. Taking place in New Orleans of course. Plus they have Marques Tuiasosopo. Don’t ask.

Week 9 Highlights

New Orleans at San Francisco: The 49ers took control of second place in the NFC West with their 28-27 victory over the Saints, keeping them just a game and a half behind the Rams. Both teams put on an offensive show, as Aaron Brooks passed for 347 yards and two scores, while Jeff Garcia countered with 252 yards and four touchdowns. To cap it all off, E.J. added three catches for 35 yards and a score.

Green Bay at Chicago: Well, Mike Brown didn’t have a chance to win this one. Brett Favre and the Pack broke the Bears overtime winning streak, putting the two teams in a tie for first place in the NFC Central. Though the Bears had plenty of chances inside the Packers’ red zone, they managed only field goals and fell 20-12.

Random Thoughts

Pittsburgh 15, Cleveland 12: The Bus runs over Couch and his furniture friends.

St. Louis 48, Carolina 14: Trung Who? Faulk marshals replacement Canidate.

NY Jets 27, Kansas City 7: Last year the Giants overachieved. Now the Jets have decided to follow suit.

New England 21, Buffalo 11: Note to Gregg Williams: Things only get colder from here.

Jacksonville 30, Cincinnati 13: Cincinnati always loses cat fights in November.

Miami 27, Indianapolis 24: Peyton loses Edge(rrin), gets knocked silly by Fins.

Tampa Bay 20, Detroit 17: Eight and counting–

Philadelphia 48, Minnesota 17: Minnesota replaces St. Louis as team with biggest defense-offense disparity.

Denver 26, San Diego 16: New stadium, same Mile High mystique.

NY Giants 17, Arizona 10: Plummer wilting again in the desert heat.

Atlanta 20, Dallas 13: Vick proves that he’s no Ryan Leaf.

Monday Night Preview: Baltimore at Tennessee

Though the Ravens are no longer the only team ever to beat the Titans in the Adelphia Coliseum, they do still consider it their home away from home. The Titans meanwhile, are trying to bounce back from an 0-3 start. Both teams’ vaunted defenses of last season have been humbled a bit this season.

The Verdict: Eddie George gets revenge on the Ravens for shutting him down in the playoffs. Titans win, 17-13.