We’re a quarter of the way through the NFL season, or thereabouts with the 17-game schedule, which means it’s a good time to take stock in what’s happening around the league.
The Philadelphia Eagles have been the class of the NFL so far. They are the league’s only unbeaten team, their total margin of victory (44 points) is second — behind only the Buffalo Bills — and their quarterback is playing MVP-caliber football.
The Eagles are not the betting favorite to win the Super Bowl. The Bills and Kansas City Chiefs have more favorable odds. But they’ve surged to the top of the NFC and rightfully sit atop this and most power polls.
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The top three teams in the rankings seem clear, as do the favorites for most of the NFL’s major awards. Here are my picks for that hardware at the quarter poll of the season:
MVP: Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles
You could make a compelling case for Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes, and Lamar Jackson is in the mix, too. But Hurts has been phenomenal in leading the Eagles to a 4-0 record. He leads the NFL in yards per pass attempt, is third in rushing touchdowns and his dual-threat ability is the defining characteristic of Philadelphia’s offense.
If the Eagles fade, Hurts’ MVP case will, too. But he’s been the best player on the best team in the first month of the season and that’s all there is to judge him on for now.
Defensive Player of the Year: Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys
Parsons finished second to T.J. Watt in voting for this award as a rookie last year, and he’s having another impactful season for a Cowboys team that has surprisingly won three straight games since losing quarterback Dak Prescott to a thumb injury.
Cooper Rush, a former Central Michigan Chippewa, has done his part as Prescott’s fill-in, but the Cowboys defense has been dominant in holding all four of its opponents under 20 points this year. Parsons has four sacks and nine quarterback hits in those games and is the most destructive player on one of the league’s best defenses.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints
Barring a phenomenal showing by Kenny Pickett in the final 13 games, this award seems destined to go to a non-quarterback for the second straight year and the seventh time in the past 10 seasons. Olave leads all rookies with 21 catches and 335 yards receiving. Fellow first-round receivers Garrett Wilson and Drake London have done some good things as well, and Houston Texans running back Dameon Pierce is a darkhorse for this award as a fourth-round pick.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Devin Lloyd, Jacksonville Jaguars
Lloyd has outplayed No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker on the Jaguars defense, though like the OROY award the DROY award is wide open at this point of the season. The Lions’ Aidan Hutchinson leads all rookies with three sacks. Hutchinson has not dominated as a pass rusher to this point in his career, though he could finish with numbers that would his candidacy tough to overlook. Lloyd already has two interceptions and two 10-tackle games and the Jaguars have been a pleasant surprise in the early part of the season.
Comeback Player of the Year: Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
Someone asked me the other day if I thought Jeff Okudah would be in the mix for this award. Okudah has played well through four games, but there are other more worthy candidates. Barkley is the most prominent of those after rushing for 627 yards in 15 games over the past two seasons. He may have played too much last season (13 games) for some voters’ liking, but Barkley looks like a different running back with a league-leading 463 yards rushing on 84 carries through four games.
Week 5 NFL power rankings
1. Philadelphia Eagles
2. Buffalo Bills
3. Kansas City Chiefs
4. Green Bay Packers
5. Dallas Cowboys
6. Minnesota Vikings
7. Miami Dolphins
8. Baltimore Ravens
9. Los Angeles Rams
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
11. Cincinnati Bengals
12. San Francisco 49ers
13. Los Angeles Chargers
14. Tennessee Titans
15. Cleveland Browns
16. Jacksonville Jaguars
17. Arizona Cardinals
18. Denver Broncos
19. Indianapolis Colts
20. Las Vegas Raiders
21. New Orleans Saints
22. New England Patriots
23. Pittsburgh Steelers
24. Detroit Lions
25. New York Giants
26. New York Jets
27. Atlanta Falcons
28. Seattle Seahawks
29. Chicago Bears
30. Carolina Panthers
31. Washington Commanders
32. Houston Texans