The 2021 NFL season is entering its final stages and it’s safe to say that it has been one that will not be forgotten for some time. If you look at some of the top NFL stats pages you’ll see how this season has given pro football fans plenty to talk about and even more to keep them on the edge of their seat week in and week out. The idea of there being clear favorites in the season was quickly discarded with surprising results and upsets coming from left and right. If you don’t believe us, just take a quick look at how the Lions ended up manhandling the Cardinals in a game where everyone believed that Arizona would be all sorts of dominant against Detroit.
But while everyone has their minds focused on which teams will end up making the playoffs and which teams look best to mount up a strong title run, especially with how the season continues to shape up every week of action, let’s talk about the race for the other important titles in the league. Who looks best fit to take the MVP Award, Defensive and Offensive Player of the Year Award, Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year Awar? Let’s take a look.
Most Valuable Player Award
For our first award, let’s talk about the MVP award and how it’s slowly becoming a two-horse race between two of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game, Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers. On the one hand, you have Brady, last year’s Super Bowl champion with the Buccaneers and the man who is regarded as the best football player to ever grace the gridiron. His playing this season has been all kinds of great, with MVP-caliber showings in various games throughout the season. His leadership skills, as well as all-around presence, have been one of the strongest selling points for the Bucs to once again be considered NFC favorites to reach the Super Bowl. But, if there’s one team that can stop them on their way, it’s probably the Green Bay Packers, led by Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers, who is last season’s MVP, and who is probably playing in his last season as the Packers’ QB, has made it a point to make this season one to remember, with stunning performances coming week in and week out. If Rodgers can continue with his strong playing and lead the Packers into maybe even taking the 1st seed in the NFC, then Brady should watch out, because Rodgers might end up becoming a back-to-back MVP award winner this season.
Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year Awards
On the offensive side of the ball, two players have become clear standouts for the OPOY Award, the Rams’ WR Cooper Kupp, and the Colts’ RB Jonathan Taylor. If you look at how Kupp has been playing for Los Angeles this season, it would be dumbfounded to not understand that he is by far the best wideout in all of the league this season. His numbers and stats back up the claim and the way he continuously lifts the Rams’ offense is something worth taking time to appreciate and enjoy. It’s not even hard to say that because of him, new Rams QB Matthew Stafford has been able to show off some of his best football and what he can do in a title-contending team.
But then you have Jonathan Taylor. While at the beginning of the season everyone had their eyes set on Derrick Henry once again being the most dominant RB in the league, Indianapolis’ Jonathan Taylor has made it a point to put the league on notice and show off what he can do when given the chance and the spotlight. His performance against New England is proof enough that this man can ball like a monster and that the Colts can rely on his running game to take them into the postseason if necessary. He runs the ball and scores like its second nature and he can run over all defenses that stand in his way. While it’s hard to pick one of the two just yet, Taylor might end up having a slight advantage over Kupp, but we’ll have to see how the season finishes for both, as this race is way too tight to call.
On the defensive side of the ball, while Myles Garrett and T.J. Watt continue with their heated race to see who ends up as the sack leader in the NFL, we might be in for a surprise if things end up shaping up the way they are thus far. Dallas’ rookie LB Micah Parsons has become the leader that the Cowboys’ defense so desperately needed to take a plunge into defensive dominance. Parsons playing style has been a complete game-changer for Dallas and is the best reason as to why the Cowboys are still looking as strong as ever in the NFC title race, even after their offense has shown signs of weakness as of lately. While Garret and Watt are already seen as dominant mainstay characters in the league, defensively speaking, it shouldn’t be surprising to see Parsons take the DPOY award when the time comes.
Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year
Let’s start with the defense because it’s probably the easiest award to talk about here. If you have a player, a rookie, who is regarded as one of the best defensive players in the league and is being considered as one of the top candidates to take the Defensive Player of the Year Award, then it’s a given that he should also be a ravishing favorite for the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. Yes, we’re talking about Cowboys LB Micah Parsons. Ever since coming into the league, he has shown over and over again that Dallas has a new leader in their defense and that he will only continue to get better as time continues to go on. There have even been comparisons of his playing to how Lawrence Taylor used to play back in his days. If Parsons can win both the DPOY and DROY awards, he will also match Taylor in that part of football history, and from where we’re seeing him, the DROY award is his for the taking.
On the offensive side of the game, the whole season has been almost like a two-player race between Patriots QB Mac Jones and Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase. While Mac Jones has stood out as the most productive QB in a 2021 draft class that had a total of 5 QB prospects being picked within the first 15 picks of the draft, his success is also mainly in part of having Bill Belichick as his coach. Jones has shown signs of struggle from time to time but has managed to still put on a very respectable season when it comes to numbers and stats and would be a safe choice for the award.
But then, we have the Bengals’ star, WR Ja’Marr Chase. Chase has shown that all Joe Burrow needed to start succeeding in the league was to have one of his favorite targets from his playing days back at LSU join him in Cincinnati. Even after showing some signs of weakness in the preseason, Chase has taken off and has become one of the best WR’s in the league, becoming one of the most important pieces in a Bengals offense that is one of the NFL’s most exciting units around. While Chase has been a more pivotal part of his team than Jones has for New England, given how well the Patriots are playing and how they could end up with the top seed in the AFC, Mac Jones should be a favorite to win the award once the season ends.