As the NFL preps for another exciting postseason, our second NFL Thursday miniseries continues in analyzing the 2017 season, one that culminated with the only Super Bowl we ever covered in person. Remember, we’re looking here at awarded Super Bowl MVPs (19-for-51 so far) and Rookies of the Year (33-for-60). Fortunately we were spared another NFL title from a cheating franchise, so there’s that to look forward today in our column. Woohoo!
Super Bowl LII MVP: Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia (original, confirmed)
The Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl (and their first NFL title since 1960) with a 41-33 victory over the cheating New England Patriots and their cheating quarterback. Eagles QB Nick Foles was named the MVP for throwing 3 touchdowns and catching 1 TD, too. His 373 yards passing were huge, although Foles did throw an interception—and that usually disqualifies players from winning our version of his hardware.
What are the other options here? Running back Corey Clement caught 4 passes for 100 yards and a TD, without doing much damage on the ground (3 carries, 8 yards). Defensively, end Brandon Graham made the biggest play of the game, a sack strip of the Patriots QB that clinched the game. But he only made one other tackle the entire game. Cornerback Jaylen Mills made 9 tackles to lead Philly, but there was nothing tremendously notable about his effort.
The Patriots took their only lead of the game with 9:22 left in the fourth quarter, and Foles didn’t fold in response. He engineered two more scoring drives at that point, with the assist from Graham, to win the game and put New England out of its collective misery. We know he tossed that INT, but there’s no one else here to choose. We cautiously confirm his trophy win, because after all, Foles was the first player ever to both throw for and catch a touchdown in the same Super Bowl. That deserves … something.
2017 NFL ROTY: Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans & Marshon Lattimore, CB, New Orleans (original); Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles (revised)
In 2016, the New Orleans Saints won just 7 times, but in adding rookie RB Alvin Kamara (1,901 all-purpose yards and 14 TDs) and CB Marshon Lattimore (43 tackles, 5 INTs), the teams jumped to 11 wins and the NFC South Division crown. However, neither player can win our award, obviously, as they cancel each other out. No fear! We have several other good candidates, on the surface, for this award. We will break them down by offense and defense below.
On the offensive side of the field, we see these candidates: Kansas City Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt (1,782 scrimmage yards and 11 TDs), Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (869 receiving yards and 5 TDs), Pittsburgh Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (1,157 all-purpose yards and 8 TDs), and New York Giants tight end Evan Engram (736 scrimmage yards and 6 TDs). Kansas City (10 wins), Los Angeles (11), and Pittsburgh (13) won division titles, while the Giants missed the playoffs.
Defensively, we’re looking at Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Carl Lawson (8.5 sacks), Cleveland Browns DE Myles Garrett (7 sacks), and Steelers LB T.J. Watt (40 tackles, 7 sacks, 1 INT). Neither the Bengals or the Browns made the postseason, so there’s that eliminator. Also, Watt and JuJu cancel each other out, so we’re left with just Hunt and Kupp now for our decision here. Since the Chiefs actually won 11 games the year prior, Kupp takes this award as the Rams improved 7 wins overall.