Our second NFL Thursday miniseries moves closer to the present day, as this time we’re checking out the 2019 season, the last normal season before the Covid pandemic. Remember, we’re looking here at awarded Super Bowl MVPs (20-for-53 so far) and Rookies of the Year (33-for-62). Once we are caught up on the present day, we probably will go back and review franchise bests like we’re doing for the NHL right now on Saturdays. That will be fun! But in the meantime, enjoy this seasonal review, part two.
Super Bowl LIV MVP: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City (original); Damien Williams, RB, Kansas City (revised)
The Kansas City Chiefs won their first Super Bowl since the 1969 season with a 31-20 comeback win over the San Francisco 49ers, who have not won the Super Bowl since 1994. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (78.1 QB rating) was named the MVP, but he threw two interceptions in the game, so we’re not going there. We’re not sure why the media did, in truth, but then again, we’re obviously surprised at a lot of their choices in the heat of the moment. Hindsight does really help us make better selections.
We see running back Damien Williams (133 total yards, 2 touchdowns) and cornerback Bashaud Breeland (7 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 PD, 1 INT) as the best options here. Williams ran for 104 yards on just 17 carries in a pass-happy offense that was inconsistent for most of the game. He scored the go-ahead TD on a pass reception, and he sealed the victory with a big rushing TD. That’s big. Breeland had some big plays in the first half that helped the Chiefs set the stage for the fourth-quarter comeback.
While Breeland’s all-around effort was very nice, it doesn’t jump out at us in any single way—and none of his big plays really had anywhere near the impact that a scoring play does. Williams made very good S.F. defenders look bad on his two big touches in the last few minutes of the game, and those plays were obviously among the biggest in this one. We’re very comfortable with this choice.
2019 NFL ROTY: Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona & Nick Bosa, DE, San Francisco (original); A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee (revised)
The Arizona Cardinals went 5-10-1 to miss the postseason, while the 49ers posted a 13-3 record to match two other teams for the best record in the NFC. This was San Francisco’s first playoff appearance in six years, so 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (9 sacks, 1 INT) gets a lot of love here early on as the only voter winner above that we can consider. But there are several candidates to look at closely, although we must whittle the list down to those who impacted playoff teams positively.
These are the two contending players we like: Philadelphia Eagles RB Miles Sanders (1,327 total yards and 6 TDs) and Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (1,111 total yards and 9 TDs). Both teams slipped into the postseason with 9-7 records, while the 49ers posted a 13-3 record as noted above. Playoff margin alone disqualifies Bosa here, in addition to the fact he didn’t even lead rookies at his position in sacks. But we digress, do we go with Sanders or Brown? Ironically, the two are Eagles teammates now.
The funny part is that both the Eagles and Titans posted the exact same records the year before. Do we really drill down to point differential here? Yes! Philly was plus-18 this year, and Tennessee was plus-92 from the last season. That’s incredible, and even though it is splitting hairs, we are just going with Brown here as he filled a serious void in the Titans offense that was built around NFL rushing champion Derrick Henry—and the rookie WR really helped open it up in Tennessee to new scoring heights.