NFL Awards Watch: Jalen Hurts’ Race To Lose

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Welcome to NFL Awards Watch, my weekly column that takes a look at the five major awards handed out in the NFL: MVP; Offensive and Defensive Player Of The Year; and Offensive and Defensive Rookie Of The Year.

JONATHAN HUTTON NFL AWARDS WATCH ARCHIVE

Jalen Hurts continues to lead the MVP race, but another quarterback enters a separate category with four games to play.  Let’s get to it:

NFL Awards Watch: Week 14

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

QB JALEN HURTS, Philadelphia Eagles 

Hurts is the first quarterback in NFL history with 10 rushing touchdowns in back-to-back seasons. MVP isn’t judged on last year, but the 2021 season plays in to our view of him this season. Last year the Eagles ran all over teams, led by Hurts. Now he’s the total package.

A great example is what wide receiver DeVonta Smith described postgame this past Sunday. Hurts checked to a play that resulted in Smith scoring a touchdown to put the Eagles up two touchdowns against he Giants.

“There’s a point in time people said I couldn’t throw the deep ball,” Hurts said postgame. “I think that was a pivotal moment in the game, a big momentum swing in the game.”

Two More To Consider:

  • QB Patrick Mahomes, San Francisco 49ers.

Mahomes continues to make the incredible improv plays look routine, none better than this no-look pass to Jerick McKinnon to begin the second quarter this past Sunday. 

Mahomes recorded his 24th career game with at least 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes. Yes, that’s the most by any NFL player through his first six seasons in the league. KC’s QB is now 10-0 against the Broncos, becoming the fourth quarterback in the Super Bowl era to have 10-plus wins without a loss against a single opponent. The others: John Elway (10-0 vs. NE), Tom Brady (10-0 vs. ATL) and Andrew Luck (11-0 vs. TEN).

QB Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins. Tua had a season low 5.18 yards per attempt against the Chargers. Justin Herbert out-played him in prime time, and now the Dolphins travel to Buffalo for a massive matchup on Saturday night. 


OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

WR JUSTIN JEFFERSON, Minnesota Vikings

The league’s top wide out continued to dominate in Week 14, setting a new Vikings franchise record with 223 receiving yards in a single game. Think of Minnesota’s great wide receivers and Cris Carter, Randy Moss and Steve Jordan immediately come to mind. And now, Justin Jefferson. He now has 1,500 receiving yards this season and can surpass last year’s 1,600 yard mark this week against the Colts. 

Justin Jefferson The Griddy Dance
Justin Jefferson has a strong case for Offensive Player of the Year. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images).

Two More To Consider:

  • WR Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins. Tyreek Hill scored both Miami touchdowns Sunday night, including the ball finding him when Jeff Wilson’s fumble bounced to him where he bolted 57 yards to the end zone. His second score went for 60 yards. The guy just makes explosive play after explosive play. 
  • WR Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs.

OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

WR GARRETT WILSON, New York Jets.

He produced a record-breaking day agains the Buffalo Bills, passing Keyshawn Johnson for the most receiving yards in a rookie season. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-Liv-syxiQ

Two More To Consider:

  • QB Brock Purdy, San Francisco 49ers.
Brock Purdy has entered the Offensive Rookie of the Year race. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images).

“We got a quarterback!” – 49ers DE Nick Bosa

Purdy became the first rookie to win his first career start against Tom Brady, who is now 7-1 against first year QBs. Purdy has led the Niners to victory in impressive fashion each of the last two weeks. He’s comfortable in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. And Shanahan is comfortable with Purdy because of his poise and accuracy in a passing offense that features decisive throws and quick decisions. Paired with a great defense, the 49ers are absolutely relevant whit Brock Purdy running the offense.  

WR Christian Watson, Green Bay Packers.


DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

OLB MICAH PARSONS, Dallas Cowboys

Get ready for the Christmas Eve showdown with the Eagles. Parsons has questioned why Hurts is worthy of MVP.

Two More To Consider:

  • DE Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers.

Bosa has 14.5 sacks this season, but should he have been credited with one on Tom Brady this past Sunday?

He finished with three tackles and a quarterback hit but did not record a sack for the first time in seven games.

  • OLB Matthew Judon, New England Patriots. He’s followed up his Pro Bowl season with a dominant season in Foxboro, already posting 14.5 sacks for the Patriots defense. He’s the Patriots top defensive player, but he’s told us that won’t be for long. Judon points to Josh Uche, who has 10 sacks in his last six games. 

DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

CB TARIK WOOLEN, Seattle Seahawks

The rookie is now tied for the NFL lead with six interceptions on the season, which is also a Seahawks rookie record for picks. He’s also 13 pass breakups, tied for 3rd in the NFL. 

Two More To Consider:

  • CB Sauce Gardner, New York Jets. He’s perfect for Robert Saleh’s defense — or any defense — in the NFL. Put him on an island and let him go to work at cornerback. He can win this award with a great four game stretch to close the season.
  • DE Aidan Hutchinson, Detroit Lions. The former Michigan lineman has produced seven sacks, two interceptions and 13 quarterback hits this season.
Aidan Hutchinson has been as advertised in his rookie campaign. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images).

Jonathan Hutton is the host of OutKick 360 and will write weekly about NFL awards. Follow Hutton on Twitter.

Written by Jonathan Hutton

Jonathan Hutton hosts OutKick 360 each weekday afternoon. He spent 16 seasons as the gameday host and sideline reporter for the Tennessee Titans Radio Network and covered the biggest NFL events. Follow @HuttonOutKick on Twitter/Instagram.

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