Christmas Eve saw most of the NFL’s slate played on Saturday and it was freezing at most stadiums. Recovering from frostbite while opening presents as a family apparently was a necessary evil to some. In two of the three stadiums where fans weren’t shivering, two of the NFL’s major awards were decided. Doesn’t matter what happens in the final two weeks of the season. And disregard the Vikings and Giants both adding another one-score game to their resumes. It’s the showdowns in the Bay Area and Lone Star State that apply here.
Nick Sirianni will be your NFL Coach of the Year, despite his team losing its second game of the season yesterday. Nick Bosa will be the NFL Defensive Player of the Year after the Commanders couldn’t stop him from rocking both Taylor Heinicke and Carson Wentz into 2023. The 49ers defensive end had seven tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and five pressures in the win over Washington. Not to mention, he sacked Wentz on a 2-point conversion try that won’t get added to his stats. If anything, Bosa’s performance needs consideration for overall league MVP, despite Vegas’ assertion it’s a two-man, two-quarterback race between Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts. It’s turned into a quarterback award, much like the Heisman Trophy, and the NFL MVP should’ve gone to Cooper Kupp last season. The case will unfairly likely never be made for Bosa.
Bosa has 17.5 sacks on the season and it isn’t a runaway from Patriots outside linebacker Matt Judon who has 15.5. With how the Patriots have played, there’s no way the league gives him serious consideration. Judon might be fantastic, but the NFL has made it clear that if your team sucks, you can’t rid yourself of the suck. And therefore, having some suck eliminates Judon. Bosa is also third in the league in quarterback pressures (51), despite missing a game earlier this season. You can bet Bosa would have added to both impressive totals if he didn’t miss a Week 6 matchup against the Falcons.
The competitors to Bosa for Defensive Player of the Year mostly paled in comparison coming into yesterday’s games. It was a little murkier for Sirianni’s chances, mainly because of the competition. Yes, the Eagles only lost one game all season prior to Saturday against the Commanders. It would’ve been a one-score loss without trying for Music City Miracle-style finish, which led to a Washington defensive touchdown as the game expired. Philadelphia did enough in a one-score road loss to an 11-4 Dallas team without Hurts behind center to prove Sirianni’s case will be too strong.
With Gardner Minshew at quarterback, Philadelphia’s offense didn’t miss much of a beat. The elusiveness of Hurts was a layer of the Eagles’ offense that was gone, yet the Birds still put up 34 points against an above-average Cowboys defense. Sirianni is an offensive-minded coach and always has been. The critique of why his defense gave up 40 points is valid, but it needs to be balanced with one of the frontrunners for league MVP not in uniform at AT&T Stadium, and keeping up with the Cowboys.
Andy Reid and Sean McDermott’s names will be in the coach of the year conversations. Throw in Giants rookie head coach Brian Daboll, too, for how quickly he’s turned Big Blue back into a playoff team which only a psychopath would have predicted before the season. Kevin O’Connell has done a great job in Minnesota but has a similar resume to Sirianni’s, and it’s clearly weaker when compared directly. Kyle Shanahan is a dark horse after succeeding with his third-string quarterback. And they’re all really fighting for second fiddle to Sirianni.
Sirianni’s offensive system looked so good without Hurts, it’s the best case Mahomes has for NFL MVP. Insert Chad Henne as Kansas City’s starting quarterback. There is no shot he’s anywhere as effective as Minshew was yesterday. Hurts has been incredibly valuable in 2022, but Mahomes being consistently pristine shouldn’t distract from the fact that he’s other-worldly. Eight quarters is a lot of time for things to change in the NFL. Yes, the Eagles and 49ers have playoff spots locked up. San Francisco already won its division. You can bet on Sirianni and Bosa taking home league-wide honors not going away.