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Welcome to NFL Awards Watch, my weekly column that will take 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.
Week 6 was highlighted by a game-winning drive from the NFL’s top quarterback, some well known pass rushers climbing into the column, rookie corners producing lockdown performances, and a late-round rookie creating a QB controversy in New England. Let’s get to it:
NFL AWARDS WATCH WEEK 6
Most Valuable Player
QB JOSH ALLEN, Buffalo Bills
Allen is the clear frontrunner because of his precise passing and clutch play in the massive matchup last Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.
He completed 27 of his 40 pass attempts for 329 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions as the Bills won 24-20 over their AFC nemesis.
Allen capped off the game-winning touchdown drive with a great throw to tight end Dawson Knox in the end zone. Just prior to the final touchdown, Allen scrambled for 16 yards and hurdled safety Justin Reid before he was knocked out of bounds. It’s so much fun watching him play quarterback.
Two More To Consider
- QB Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles.
- His stat line Sunday night against the Cowboys wasn’t great, but Hurts has been excellent for the Eagles all season. He’s explosive, both with his arm and his legs, and he protects the football.
- Hurts has thrown only two interceptions on 184 pass attempts and unless an opposing defense can force him into a heavy drop back passing game, what the Eagles QB is doing will be more than enough to have his name mentioned for NFL awards.
- QB Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs.
- Bills head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier deserve credit for deploying a 3-man defensive front and using linebacker Matt Milano as a spy to hold Mahomes at bay in a game where it didn’t come down to who had the ball last, but which quarterback made the crucial error.
- That was Mahomes, who threw a fourth-quarter interception to end the game. Mahomes did have some great moments too, including big throws to Travis Kelce and JuJu Smith-Schuster. And it’s Mahomes that makes KC a Top 3 team in the league despite the Week 6 loss.
Offensive Player of the Year
WR TYREEK HILL, Miami Dolphins
Tyreek Hill leads the NFL with 701 receiving yards. That’s his most through the first six games of a season throughout his career. He’s torching defenses on a weekly basis.
In Week 6 against the Vikings, Hill finished with 12 catches for 177 yards. Per NFL Research, there have been six instances of a player recording at least 10 receptions and 150 receiving yards in a game this season. Hill has three of them, including Sunday’s performance against Minnesota.
Two More To Consider
- WR Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings.
- He was the bright spot in an overall dull game Sunday in Miami. Jefferson again posted over 100 yards receiving and set up scores for his team.
- He had 44 yards receiving on the Vikings’ first scoring drive in the second quarter, then had a 47-yard catch and run that put the Vikings with a first-and-goal to begin the fourth. Jefferson passed Jerry Rice for the most receiving yards in his first three seasons. And his third season is still young.
- RB Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns.
- Cleveland’s normal bell cow back was held in check by a stout Patriots run defense, but despite rushing for just 56 yards on a measly 12 carries, the NFL’s top back in 2022 still averages 5.4 yards per carry this season.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
RB BREECE HALL, New York Jets
There’s no question who runs the engine for this Jets offense. Breece Hall continues to break tackles, score touchdowns, extend drives, and post big numbers.
He followed up big game in Week 5 with 20 carries for 116 yards, forced five missed tackles in Green Bay, and also housed a long TD run on an inside trap play where he made Packers defenders appear as though they were running in quicksand. He shared the glory with Jets faithful in attendance, when he made his Lambeau Leap.
Two More To Consider
- QB Bailey Zappe, New England Patriots.
- There are some definite vibes coming from Foxboro that point to a quarterback controversy. Mac Jones or Bailey Zappe? Right now there’s no reason to make a change back to Mac. Zappe made history in the Week 6 win over Cleveland.
- He became the first rookie since Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen in 1957 to win his first two career starts and have a 100+ passer rating in each of those games. He’s especially good on play action, and he’s protecting the football while also passing for 300 yards against the Browns. Three weeks ago he was a third-stringer. Now he’s in the conversation for the league’s top rookie award.
- WR Drake London, Atlanta Falcons.
- London is real talent for Arthur Smith’s offense, but Atlanta’s current path to victory includes a limited passing attack.
- That’s not going to change for the 3-3 Falcons. Unless London really begins to crank up his numbers on a limited amount of targets, it’s not likely he’ll be in this conversation by Thanksgiving.
Defensive Player of the Year
WLB MICAH PARSONS, Dallas Cowboys
Parsons entered Week 6 tied for the NFL lead with six sacks, but did not record a sack on Jalen Hurts Sunday night. He did make seven tackles, including one in the backfield, and he broke up two passes in the game.
His personal foul penalty for taunting Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert gave Philly a first down on a near-interception that at worst would have forced a punt. Parsons remains at the top for me this week as he and the Cowboys return home to host the Detroit Lions.
Two More To Consider
- OLB Von Miller, Buffalo Bills.
- Miller is making the same impact for the Bills that he did for the Rams, and last Sunday he made an impact in Kansas City against the team he was signed to help defeat. He always shows up in the big moments, including his two sacks of Patrick Mahomes in Week 6. The first forced the Chiefs to settle for a field goal.
- His second sack forced a punt which allowed the Bills to take possession and have a chance to win the game. Miller made a huge difference in a four-point game. Mahomes felt Miller’s presence throughout the contest, like his final play where the Chiefs QB was forced out of the pocket to throw the interception to Tarron Johnson. Miller’s five QB pressures led the way for the visiting defense, and he’s now recorded at least one sack in four straight games.
- DE Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns.
- The Browns officially have a new sack king. Garrett became Cleveland’s all-time leader on a strip sack in the first quarter last Sunday, passing Clay Matthews Jr. for the most in franchise history. Garrett finished the game with a pair of sacks, giving him five total on the season and 63.5 for his career. X-rays on Garrett’s shoulder were negative, the same strained shoulder he suffered in his September car accident. He will be available for the Browns as they head to Baltimore in Week 7.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
CB SAUCE GARDNER, New York Jets
There are other late-round corners who made this week’s column, but the fourth overall selection in April’s draft continues to set the bar for the league’s top rookie performer on defense.
Gardner players like a veteran. His seven pass breakups lead all NFL players, and he allowed just one completion eight yards in last Sunday’s win in Green Bay.
Two More To Consider
- CB Tariq Woolen, Seattle Seahawks.
- Somehow a tall, versatile corner who ran 4.26 at the NFL Combine fell to the fifth round of the NFL Draft. Woolen has been phenomenal this season. He leads the NFL with six total takeaways and his four interceptions are tied for the best in the league with Buffalo’s Jordan Poyer.
- The similarities to former Seahawks corner Richard Sherman are crazy. Both players converted from wide receiver to cornerback while in college. Both players were fifth-round picks, Woolen selected 153rd overall last April and Sherman drafted 154th in 2011. And both had four interceptions to begin their NFL careers in Year 1.
- CB Jack Jones, New England Patriots.
- Jones entered Week 6 coming off two straight games with interceptions, including a pick-6 of Aaron Rodgers. While he didn’t intercept a pass in Cleveland, he allowed just two catches for 27 yards when Jacoby Brissett targeted the fourth round selection. He did a solid job while matched up on Amari Cooper and continues to be one of the steals of the 2022 NFL Draft.