Week 5 of the National Football League(NFL) has came to an end, and it was a crazy week of football for a number of reasons. In the new 17-game NFL season, five football weeks now roughly marks a quarter of the season over already. While five weeks of a sport season isn't enough to make any bold assumptions, I decided to do my own "awards" for the quarter-part of the season.
I'm going to assign several "awards" to various players, and teams in this season up through Week 5 of the 2021-2022 NFL Season. Some will be awards that are given at the end of the season, and some are awards I made up. I'm basing the awards on the following criteria in these three categories. I'm also putting Runner-Ups to the "awards", and also making my predictions for the real individual awards that will be given out at the end of the NFL Season. Here is my breakdown.
Statistics: Individual stats for players, team stats for teams.
Strength of Schedule: While busting out stats is great, clearly, it's easier to bust out stats against a weak team isn't as impressive as a great team, or even mediocre team.
Supporting Cast: A team which is playing flawlessly with a "meh" roster is impressive, but it also tells me it could very well be a fluke. For players, if a player is surrounded by excellent talent, that player's stats are clearly inflated, and vice versa.
Offensive Rookie of the Year(OROTY): Wide Receiver Ja'Marr Chase, for the Cincinnati Bengals.
I'm a Bengals fan, so excuse some bias I may have, but even though it's difficult for a non-Quarterback to win an award on offense, I think Ja'Marr Chase is making a strong case so far.
In just five games so far, Chase has compiled 456 Receiving Yards, 19.8 Yards Per Carry(YPC), and five Receiving Touchdowns(TD). Keep in mind, while his Quarterback Joe Burrow has done well, he's not an elite, or even highly above average experienced veteran. Chase has excelled all expectations so far.
Runner-Up: Quarterback Mac Jones, for the New England Patriots-Quarterbacks are clearly the most important player on offense, and while he's struggling with interceptions, he's also doing very well for the lack of weapons he has on offense.
My prediction: Quarterbacks tend to win the award, and Mac Jones plays for the Patriots, so therefore, he's my prediction to win the award.
Defensive Rookie of the Year(DROTY): Linebacker Micah Parsons, for the Dallas Cowboys.
It's not just because he plays for "America's Team". The most valuable defensive players are in the secondary, and Parsons has been excellent in his first five games so far. He has 25 Tackles, 2.5 Sacks, and has even forced some Fumbles, as well as only having three missed tackles. Right now, he is a strong favorite, and rightfully so.
Runner-Up: Cornerback Patrick Surtain II, for the Denver Broncos-He's one of the reasons the Broncos have a strong defense(which I'll get to later in this take).
My prediction: For the reasons I already stated, it's now Micah Parsons in the driver's seat.
Comeback Player of the Year(CPOTY): Quarterback Dak Prescott, for the Dallas Cowboys.
It's quite amazing what Prescott has done so far. After missing a vast majority of the 2020-2021 NFL Season due to a compound ankle, and actually being contemplated by his Head Coach on losing his starting job to Andy Dalton as recent as January, 2021, he has now came out in full force for all five games so far, with 1,368 Passing Yards, a 73.9 percent Completion Rate, and a 13 to 3 Touchdown to Interception Ratio-and he doesn't have the best weapons.
Runner-Up: Quarterback Joe Burrow, for the Cincinnati Bengals.
I love Burrow so far, but even as a Bengals fan, it pains me to admit he doesn't quite deserve this award so far. Still, it's impressive Burrow came in to this season after a torn ACL injury, and only ten career NFL games, just to be in the top half of most statistical passing categories after five weeks.
My prediction: The Cowboys will most likely win the NFC East Division, and make a good postseason run-and much of that credit will be pinned to Dak Prescott. Therefore, I say he wins the Comeback Player of the Year.
Defensive Player of the Year(DPOTY): Defensive Lineman Aaron Donald, for the Los Angeles Rams
On defense, stats are more misleading than while on offense in the NFL, because offensive schemes can literally limit defensive players . He has only forced one Fumble, and has a measly three Sacks, but this is largely because he is now being triple teamed more often most Defensive Linemen are being double-teamed-and he's still finding a way to compile stats. He's already won three DPOTY Awards, and is the reigning winner of the award from last year, and I see no reason why he's not the most valuable defensive player again.
Runner-Up: Defensive End Myles Garrett, for the Cleveland Browns
He's already forced ten Fumbles, and has seven Sacks, but he has an easier time busting them out since the entire Offensive Line isn't blocking him.
Prediction: Somehow, someway, I see Aaron Donald winning the DPOTY award again, and well on his way to establishing himself as one of the greatest defensive players of all time.
Coach of the Year(COTY): Brandon Staley, for the Los Angeles Chargers
A true coach of the year is a Head Coach who has to pull a team out of the gutter, and show such a team adequate leadership, and an improvement from the prior season. This is the first season Brandon Staley has coached the Chargers, and so far, they have began the season 4-1 against tough teams so far. While some of this is attributed to the strong roster, particularly with Justin Herbert, clearly, he's doing something right as a Head Coach.
Runner-Up: Kliff Kingsbury, for the Arizona Cardinals
It's his third year with the Cardinals, so he doesn't get quite the recognition because people can argue he already had his chance in recent years, but he has improved the team every season so far, and his Cardinals squad remains the only undefeated team at 5-0-Including victories against tough teams such as the Tennessee Titans, Los Angeles Rams, and San Francisco 49ers.
My Prediction: There are three main factors that go into a Coach of the Year Award: 1. They're always a Head Coach(not an Assistant Coach). 2. They're relatively new in coaching their franchise(first, or second year), and third, how successful the team is. The Chargers are on their way to make the postseason, and I think this gives Brandon Staley the award.
Most Valuable Player/Offensive Player of the Year Award(MVP/OPOTY)-Quarterback Josh Allen, for the Buffalo Bills
First of all, it never made any sense to me why the NFL MVP is always an offensive player(almost always a Quarterback), yet, the Offensive Player of the Year Award winner is often not a Quarterback. Therefore, in my mind, the most valuable player of this season-who just happens to be the best offensive player this season-is the one, and only Josh Allen, who is having a phenomenal season for the Bills. Despite not having a top tier receiving corps, he has 1,370 Passing Yards, 7.5 Y/A, 12 TD Passes, and only 2 Int. On top of this, he has faced some solid defenses as well. There is nobody else more valuable in the league so far than Allen.
Runner-Up: Quarterback Kyler Murray, for the Arizona Cardinals
In a way, I can argue Kyler Murray is more valuable than Allen, since Murray is more of a dual thread than Allen, and has an even more impressive statline. However, since he has more offensive talent on his team than Allen, I'm giving Allen the edge.
Prediction: The NFL often tries to give the OPOTY award to an offensive player who is not a Quarterback, but this year, we have seen too much outstanding play by Quarterbacks for it to not be a Quarterback. Conversely, there haven't been too many Running Backs, and Wide Receivers who have truly stood out to compete with this award. Just like I said about the MVP Award, I'll go with Kyler Murray here.
Best Offensive Team: Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have displayed some serious deficiencies on defense, but they're still the King of the Hill on offense. They have a passing, and rushing combination with Patrick Mahomes II, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire that is downright dangerous to opposing defenses, and they have the stats to prove it.
Runner-Up: Green Bay Packers-They have Aaron Rodgers, and Aaron Jones. Does anything else need to be said?
Best Defensive Team: Denver Broncos
The Broncos are the antithesis of the Chiefs. While the Broncos' postseason hopes look all, but dashed moving forward, their defense is the only reason they can remain competitive. They have the full package-a superior Defensive Line, great Linebackers, and the best Cornerbacks in the game. Von Miller is the leader on defense, and he has already started off this season with a loud bang.
Runner-Up: Buffalp Bills
The Bills are downright scary. Their defense is almost as good as the Broncos', and their offense is almost as good as the Chiefs'.
Best Team on Special Teams: Baltimore Ravens
As a Cincinnati Bengals fan, it pains me to admit how good the Ravens are on Special Teams. They have the best Kicker in the NFL(Justin Tucker-who had already set a record for the longest Field Goal kicked of all time), and some incredible gunners, as well as great Kickoff, and Punt returners. Their Special Teams gives a major leverage to their Quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Runner-Up: Buffalo Bills
I'm telling you, the Bills are scary. Tyler Bass is no joke.
Biggest Pleasant Surprise: Arizona Cardinals
I know I've already tooted the horns of Kliff Klingsbury, and Kyler Murray, but how can I not pick the Cardinals for this "award"? They're the only undefeated team heading into Week 6, and their record is no fluke, since they've faced some tough teams. This is a team many experts predicted finishing in last place of the NFC West. I saw many 5-12, 6-11, and every now, and then, a 7-10 prediction for the season. Me? I'll predict they win at least eleven games this season at this point, and at least a 2nd Place finish in the NFC West.
Runner-Up: Carolina Panthers
The Panthers are 3-2, and are looking like they can give the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a run for their money. How many people saw this coming?
Biggest Unpleasant Surprise: Pittsburgh Steelers
Ah, it feels so good to say my worst NFL franchise is the one who is confusing pundits with their atrocious performance so far. Ben Roethlisberger is a shadow of himself, and the rest of the team is battling injuries, and severely underperforming. Many pundits had them fighting for the NFC North Division Title(not me-I had them coming in 3rd Place), but it's looking more, and more likely they will finish in last place in the division.
Runner-Up: Kansas City Chiefs
They're off to a slow start, but to be fair to the Chiefs, some of that has to do with their brutal opening schedule.
Best Team in the NFL: Buffalo Bills
They most likely won't win Super Bowl LVI. The oddsmakers aren't picking them to win the Super Bowl. So what? The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were barely a top ten team last year, but they played the best when it mattered, and won the Super Bowl. The best teams rarely win the Super Bowl each year, and vice versa. The truth is, at least in the 17-game Regular Season, the Bills are the best team in the NFL. The arguably have a top five offense, defense, and special teams, as well as a competent coaching staff.
Runner-Up: Los Angeles Rams
They have the full package as well-but this package just isn't quite enough to match the Bills this season so far.
The Bottom Line: We're still only five weeks in the 2021-2022 NFL Season, and this is now an 18 week Regular Season with a brutal postseason schedule. We should take all of this with a grain of salt so far.