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Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons has a chance to do something only one other man has ever done before: win the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in the same season.
Lawrence Taylor set the standard in 1981, when he recorded 9.5 sacks and finished his career enshrined in Canton. Time will tell whether Parsons follows the same route, but winning both awards in the same season is very much in reach. Through 13 games, Parsons has 12.0 sacks, three forced fumbles and 27 quarterback hits.
Per FanDuel Sportsbook, Parsons is the leading candidate to win DROY at -5000. He is second in odds to win DPOY at +350.
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Heading into Week 15, Giants running back Saquon Barkley knows what awaits him when Dallas rolls into MetLife Stadium at 1:00 p.m. on FOX.
“I’ve never really seen anything like him. He’s really LT-like, to be honest,” Barkley told Yahoo Sports. “It is what it is. He’s insane. Every week, [Parsons is] one of those guys that, even if I can’t watch his game, I’ll look and say, ‘What is he doing?’
“And I am not just saying this because we’re friends. The sky is really the limit with him. If he keeps working hard and keeping his head on straight, he can be even better than he is now. That’s the scary thing.”
Parsons, the 2021 first-round selection out of Penn State, has transformed the Dallas defense. After giving up an average of 29.6 points per game on defense in 2020, the Cowboys are now conceding just 22.1 in 2021. The result is a 9-4 Dallas team that’s in first place in the NFC East.
As Barkley looks to get his season going in the right direction after a multitude of injuries, he can only hope Parsons has an off day on Sunday.
“He’s playing extremely well,” Barkley said. “Hopefully, he can turn that down a notch this week when we play them. But it’s fun going against Micah, and as a competitor when you’ve got one of the — you could argue — best players in the league, it’s going to help bring out your best. Coming to MetLife [Stadium], you hope it brings you a little extra motivation to get back to the level I know I can get to.”