Predicting the NFL Award Winners: Patrick Mahomes Will Edge Out Drew Brees for MVP


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Look for Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (left) to top New Orleans quarterback Dew Brees in the NFL MVP voting.

On February 2, 2019, the night before the Super Bowl, the NFL Honors presentation will be televised to all. During this live ceremony, awards such as the Most Valuable Player (MVP), Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year and the Coach of the Year are given to the deserved recipients. Given this information, many are speculating who will win each award. Here are The Torch’s predictions for all the awards that will be given the night of the NFL Honors show.

First up the MVP. To win this award, the player obviously has to be very valuable to their team, leading them to a better record than most other teams. The player must be the reason that their team is very good.

The two players that are really up for debate are quarterbacks Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs. Both players have had outstanding seasons, both leading their teams to a playoff appearance with a first round bye.

Both players have outstanding offensive weapons around them with Mahomes having Pro Bowlers Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, and running back Kareem Hunt for the first 11 games of the regular season. Brees has had Pro Bowl wide receiver Michael Thomas catching passes for him all season, star running back Alvin Kamara, and one of the better offensive lines in the NFL giving Brees the time to throw and connect for big plays.

However, the Chiefs’ defense is one of the worst in the league, and the Saints’ is one of the better. Given only a one win difference between the two teams, it is clear that Patrick Mahomes is quite deserving of this award. Mahomes had 1,105 more passing yards than Brees did in the regular season. Mahomes also had 18 more passing touchdowns in the regular season than Brees did. Although Brees did have fewer turnovers (interceptions, fumbles) and one less game played, Mahomes was under pressure and sacked more than Brees was. Given the statistical dominance Mahomes had in his 2018 breakout season, the MVP award belongs to him.

Next up is the Offensive Player of the Year. This goes to a player who was completely dominant on the field at all times during the regular season. Many players come to mind when thinking of the deserving recipient of this award. It could go to any of the top running backs, such as Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott, or Christian McCaffrey, or it could be given to one of the top quarterbacks: Drew Brees or Patrick Mahomes.

This award is very broad compared to the MVP award. Most years the MVP is a quarterback, and the Offensive Player of the Year will go to a running back or wide receiver. Although the running backs listed were so dominant, I believe that the runner up of the MVP award should win the Offensive Player of the Year. Both Brees and Mahomes had outstanding years. They would both win the MVP award easily if the other did not have as legendary of a year. I think the NFL will give the Offensive Player of the Year to Brees, if Mahomes wins MVP, or Mahomes, if Brees wins MVP.

The Defensive Player of the Year award is between two deserving players: defensive tackle Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams and linebacker Khalil Mack of the Chicago Bears. Both are the reasons that their team’s defense is a lot better than most other teams. Either player the league chooses is well deserved of winning.

For one, Mack had 47 total tackles (including assisted tackles), 12.5 sacks, one interception that was returned for a touchdown, and six forced fumbles. Every week, he put great pressure on opposing quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, and Kirk Cousins. The Chicago defense was ranked outside the top ten before he was acquired, but after the team’s remarkable season led by him, they are likely in the top five now.

However, if one were to pay close attention to the MVP race over the past couple of weeks, they would see the two quarterbacks mentioned before, and Aaron Donald. Besides players like Lawrence Taylor, no defensive player is up for debate to win the MVP award. Although Donald has little to no shot compared to the quarterbacks, just being mentioned should explain how great of a season Donald has had.

Donald had 59 total tackles (12 more than Mack), a whopping 20.5 sacks (eight more than Mack), and four forced fumbles (two less than Mack). Although Mack played two less games than Donald during the season, he would likely not have been able to match Donald’s numbers in sacks or tackles. For the differences in numbers and the historical season Donald has had as a defensive tackle (two less sacks than the seasonal record), Aaron Donald is the deserving player to win Defensive Player of the Year.

Next is the Coach of the Year award. I believe this award should go to Frank Reich of the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts improved from a 4-12 record and having a top 10 draft pick to a team with a 10-6 record and advancing all the way to the divisional round playoffs where their remarkable run was ended.

Credit must be given to the great draft pick of offensive linemen  Quenton Nelson, breakout season of tight end Eric Ebron, and the return of the Colts’ starting quarterback Andrew Luck.

Although the Colts had a valuable off-season with the addition of new, good players, Frank Reich was the missing piece of a Colts’ offense who could not really get it together the last couple of years without Luck. Once Luck returned, he and Reich came together to develop running back Marlon Mack, tight end Eric Ebron, and continue to help star receiver T.Y Hilton improve to the point where their offense is one of the best in the league. With very few weapons on offense compared to the other offensive juggernauts of the league, the success the Colts had this season shows why Frank Reich is deserving of Coach of the Year.

Now, there are the two Rookie of the Year Awards: one for an offensive player and one for a defensive player.

First up is the Offensive Rookie of the Year. This award is between the first two players drafted in the 2018 NFL draft: quarterback Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns and running back Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants.

Both players had stellar seasons in their own way. Mayfield led a Cleveland Browns team to a 7-8-1 record after a previous 0-16 season. Mayfield had 3,725 passing yards and 27 touchdowns in only 14 games played. Barkley did not quite lead his team to a stellar record like Mayfield did (5-11), but he had over 2,000 scrimmage yards (receiving and rushing combined), 15 total touchdowns, and an a stellar zero fumbles. And, he put up those impressive stats with a declining quarterback and a not so great offensive line. On most every play, he had to create holes for himself.

Although Mayfield led his team to a much better record from the year before, he was not top 10 in passing yard or touchdown stats, while Barkley was top five in rushing yard and touchdowns stats. Mayfield, although very deserving of credit, was not the only piece completing a great season compared to 2017 with a new head coach hired in the middle of the year, the addition of star receiver Jarvis Landry, and many other rookies who were added in the draft along with Mayfield.

Both players will get votes, and the difference will be very close. However, the award should go to Barkley for his remarkable season as a first year back.

Finally, the Defensive Rookie of the Year should be awarded to linebacker Darius Leonard of the Indianapolis Colts. Leonard had an amazing season, regardless of his rookie status. He led the league in total tackles with 163 (19 more than Blake Martinez, who finished second behind Leonard in that statistical category), with seven sacks and two interceptions, which is only one less for the most likely front runner for the award, safety Derwin James of the Los Angeles Chargers.

The reason James should not win is because he only had one more interception than Leonard, and safeties are more positioned to get interceptions than linebackers are. Although James had 105 total tackles, that amount does not compare to Leonard’s amount. Finally, he had half as many sacks as Leonard, although linebackers are more geared to sacks than safeties. Given these stats, Leonard is the deserving recipient of the award.

The NFL season has given us a lot to cheer about, and what more is there to cheer about than the top players and coaches. Tune in on Feb. 2 to watch the best in the league receive their just honors.

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