US Sports Veteran
Publish Date: 10/07/2020
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster
Four weeks into the season, we see some frontrunners building leads for the end-of-year NFL awards. Most teams still have 12 games left, but four weeks already taught us a lot about the current season. While the award leader boards will change during the next 13 weeks, here’s an early look at who could capture some hardware this year.
Two or three quarterbacks could surpass Wilson in the MVP race if the former Super Bowl champion’s season goes South. However, it’s not even worth mentioning any other quarterback right now. Wilson looks like the league’s best player through four weeks. He’s leading the NFL in completion percentage (75.2), passing touchdowns (16), and passer rating (136.7). The Seahawks are 4-0 atop one of the best divisions in football. This is finally the year Wilson wins his MVP.
Assuming the NFL splits the MVP and OPOY between different players, this award is a four-man race. Kamara holds a slim lead over Josh Allen, Dalvin Cook, and Aaron Rodgers. The three-time Pro Bowler leads the NFL with 557 yards from scrimmage (139.25 yards per game) and seven total touchdowns. With Michael Thomas sidelined, Kamara holds the rushing and receiving crowns in New Orleans. However, he might see fewer touches when Thomas returns.
Allen is playing at a level I didn’t think he’d ever reach. After completing fewer than 60.0% of his pass attempts in his first two seasons, Allen is completing 70.9% of his throws. The former seventh overall pick already has 1,326 passing yards and 12 touchdowns to only one interception. That 12 to one ratio is a significant improvement, considering Allen threw 30 touchdowns and 21 interceptions over the past two years. He’s also run in three touchdowns and has a 122.7 passer rating.
Cook and Rodgers also deserve consideration. Cook leads the NFL with 424 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns, but he hasn’t played a large role in the passing game. Meanwhile, Rodgers is completing 70.5% of his passes for over 300 yards per game. He’s thrown 13 touchdowns to zero interceptions and has a 128.4 passer rating.
Over the past two years, the Defensive Player of the Year race has heated up. It’s my favorite award watch list because it’s loaded with premier talent. Garrett holds a slim lead at the moment. He’s tied for the league leads with five sacks and three forced fumbles. The former first overall pick also has two fumble recoveries and 14 pressures.
Garrett isn’t the only defensive player making waves this season. Green Bay’s Za’Darius Smith also has five sacks. The outside linebacker turned the corner is his career last season, setting career-highs across the board. He could duplicate that success this year.
T.J. Watt also deserves consideration for his impact in Pittsburgh. The dynamic linebacker already has 3.5 sacks, ten quarterback hits, 17 pressures, an interception, and two passes defensed. There isn’t a better 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL today.
Aaron Donald also remains in the DPOY discussion. He has 3.5 sacks, ten quarterback hits, 11 pressures, and a forced fumble. Joey Bosa, Chris Jones, and Bobby Wagner have outside chances of entering the race.
An unplanned bye week stopped Pittsburgh’s momentum momentarily, but Roethlisberger is playing at a high level despite missing 14 games in 2019. The former Super Bowl champion is completing 67.0% of his pass attempts this year. He has 777 passing yards, seven touchdowns, and only one interception to accompany a 105.2 passer rating.
I’m not overlooking Cam Newton in this situation. The New England quarterback is also turning heads. He’s completing 68.1% of his passes and has 714 passing yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. However, Newton’s best work is still happening on the ground. He’s rushed for 149 yards and four touchdowns in three games. The former MVP currently has COVID-19, and we don’t know when the NFL will clear him to play.
I won’t rule out Aldon Smith making a push for this award either. When he took the field as a starter for Dallas in Week 1, the former All-Pro pass rusher hadn’t played in the NFL since 2015. The former seventh overall pick has four sacks, seven quarterback hits, and 22 tackles in four games.
Don’t entirely write off Alex Smith. Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, when the Washington Football Team promoted Kyle Allen to the starting job, Smith moved up to No. 2 on the depth chart. He’s one step closer to seeing playing time.
With Tom Brady heading to Tampa Bay, the Bills inherited the AFC East. However, Buffalo still had to claim the crown and overcome the shortcomings that led to their Wild Card loss last season. Through four weeks, McDermott’s team is undefeated and playing well enough to earn a top-three spot in the NFL Week 5 power rankings.
A quarterback is going to win this award. It’s just a matter of determining whether it’s Burrow or Justin Herbert. While Burrow is the better player and has one more start that Herbert, the Oregon product played the game of his life last week. If Herbert maintains that level of play, he could usurp Burrow.
Plenty of other NFL rookies deserve praise for their early success. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is thriving in Kansas City. He’s averaging over 100 yards from scrimmage per game along with 4.3 yards per carry. At this rate, he might even make the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Jonathan Taylor is also playing well, picking up 340 yards from scrimmage in his first four games.
Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson is also performing at a high level. The LSU product is averaging 87 receiving yards per game and has 278 receiving yards in the past two weeks. Jefferson’s 348 receiving yards lead all rookies, but CeeDee Lamb is hot on his tail with 309 yards.
A groin injury resulted in Young missing Week 4 and exiting Washington’s Week 3 matchup early. The second overall pick impressed in his first two starts, racking up 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and eight total tackles. Along a defensive front loaded with first-round selections, Young is already the best player.
Depending on how much time Young misses, Tampa Bay’s Antoine Winfield Jr. could overtake the Ohio St. product. The dynamic safety already has two passes defensed, two sacks, a forced fumble, and 25 tackles.