NFL Awards Watch: Nick Bosa Overtakes Micah Parsons For Top Defensive Player; Jalen Hurts’ Injury Impacts MVP Race

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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.


Jalen Hurts is hurt, which means Patrick Mahomes is in line to take over the MVP race, just not in this week’s column. But there’s a new frontrunner for the league’s top player on defense. Let’s get to it:

NFL Awards Watch: Week 15

Micah Parsons and Nick Bosa are neck-and-neck in the DPOY race. (Getty Images)


QB JALEN HURTS, Philadelphia Eagles 

Hurts has 13 rushing touchdowns, one short of the NFL record for a quarterback, a mark set by Cam Newton during his rookie year in 2011. Hurts’ MVP odds took a big hit Monday when word came out he sprained his shoulder in the game against Chicago. His game status is uncertain as the Eagles prepare for the Cowboys. 

Two More To Consider:

  • QB Patrick Mahomes, San Francisco 49ers. The former MVP completed 36 of 41 passes for 336 yards and 2 touchdowns in Kansas City’s overtime win in Houston. He finished the game completing his final 20 passes, meaning he could break the NFL record of 25-straight completions this Saturday when the Chiefs take on the Seattle Seahawks. With the injury to Hurts and the questions surrounding how long he’ll be out, Mahomes is the odds-on favorite to win MVP with three games remaining. 
  • QB Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills. Both Allen and Tagovailoa had moments to win the Week 15 showdown in Buffalo. It was Allen who delivered in the fourth quarter, helping the Bills clinch a playoff spot with his fourth game-winning drive of the season. Allen set up kicker Tyler Bass with the game-winning kick as time expired, but on the previous possession he tied the game with a two-point conversion attempt that barely broke the plane of the goal line. Allen finished with 304 passing yards and added another 77 on the ground, and his legs helped him elude defenders for another dazzling touchdown pass as the first half ended, one of his four on the night. 


WR JUSTIN JEFFERSON, Minnesota Vikings

He remains on pace to become the first 2,000-yard receiver in NFL history after the Vikings’ 33-point comeback win over the Indianapolis Colts. Jefferson must average 125 yards per game in the final three weeks of the season to reach the mark, and he’ll face a middle of the pack Giants defense, followed by two defenses he’s already torched: Green Bay and Chicago. 

Two More To Consider:

  • WR Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins. Hill hauled in a great throw from Tagovailoa for a 20-yard touchdown to pounce on a critical roughing the kicker penalty against the Bills. Hill’s arrival in Miami brought jet fuel to the Dolphins offense and he hasn’t let off the gas. Like Jefferson, Hill remains on pass Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson, who set the single-season record with 1,964 receiving yards in 2012.
  • WR Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs. The league’s top tight end tallied 10 catches for 105 yards in the Week 15 victory in Houston, tying his season high for receptions in a game and his third highest yardage total on the year. 


QB BROCK PURDY, San Francisco 49ers.

Yes, he was selected No. 262 overall in last year’s draft, making him “Mr. Irrelevant”, but the rookie from Iowa State is hardly irrelevant. Purdy leads all rookie quarterbacks with six touchdown passes, but the most important aspect is he’s not turning the ball over when throwing at a higher rate than what might be expected considering his inexperience. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has complete trust in the former third-string quarterback. A perfect example is having him throw on first down from the 49ers’ 1-yard line in Seattle. A QB who started a regular season third on the depth chart has never won a Super Bowl. We’ve also never seen a rookie quarterback reach the Super Bowl in year one.

Two More To Consider:

  • WR Garrett Wilson, New York Jets. The rookie hauled in a tremendous fourth-quarter pass from Zach Wilson to convert on 3rd and 19 in Week 15, but the Jets QB missed him on other opportunities for big plays in last week’s loss to the Lions. Garrett Wilson’s four receptions totaled 98 yards. He has 67 receptions for 966 receiving yards and four touchdowns while playing with Zach Wilson, Mike White and Joe Flacco.
  • WR Christian Watson, Green Bay Packers. Watson caught four passes for 46 yards but didn’t score a touchdown for the first time in five weeks. 


DE NICK BOSA, San Francisco 49ers

The most dominant defensive player on the most dominant defense in the NFL is a lock for first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors, and now he’s the leading candidate to win DPOY. Bosa leads the NFL with 15.5 sacks, a number than tied his career-high from last season. He joined Richard Dent and Andre Tippett as the only players to register at least 15 sacks in consecutive seasons before turning 26. He’s going to break the bank this offseason. 

Two More To Consider:

  • OLB Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys. Up next is the Christmas Eve showdown against the Eagles. It’s time for Parsons to put on a show and with this award. He’s been outplayed by Bosa in recent weeks. 
  • OLB Matthew Judon, New England Patriots. Judon trails only Nick Bosa for the NFL lead in sacks this season. Judon has 14.5 on the season.


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. The Lions didn’t throw a pass in his direction last week. Put him on an island and let him go to work at cornerback.
  • DE Aidan Hutchinson, Detroit Lions. The former Michigan lineman has produced seven sacks, two interceptions and 13 quarterback hits this season. He was solid against the run in Sunday’s win over the Jets. He finished with five tackles, including one tackle for loss. 

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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