Welcome to our final NFL Thursday miniseries entry that brings us up to date with the present day, as the 2022 season is not complete—although it will be soon. At some point thereafter, we will update both our NFL miniseries with entries for the current season. Until then, enjoy this analysis of a season that was both exciting and intriguing. Strangely, too, for the second straight season, the Super Bowl was won by a team playing on its home field … that streak ended in 2022, however. Enjoy!
Super Bowl LVI MVP: Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams (original, confirmed)
The NFL tried real hard, but the Los Angeles Rams spoiled the party for the Cincinnati Bengals and quarterback Joe Burrow by winning the game in the final minute by a 23-20 score. The Rams had taken a 13-3 lead before the officials took over and enabled the Bengals to score 17 straight points—including this infamous non-call silence on a big touchdown play for Cincinnati. The Los Angeles players overcame their disadvantage with the zebras and pulled out the victory, nonetheless, so all was well in LaLa Land.
Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp won the MVP vote, after catching 8 passes for 92 yards and 2 TDs, and he also had one big rushing attempt for 7 yards—a key first-down run on a fourth-down conversion attempt during L.A.’s game-winning scoring drive. Overall, the defenses actually stood tall in this one as each team barely surpassed 300 yards of total offense. Burrow took 7 sacks, for example, including on the final play of the game for the Cincy offense. Doh!
Does anyone else on the Rams deserve consideration here? They had no running game, and 7 different receivers caught passes, but Kupp was the only consistent offensive threat for L.A. from start to finish. Five different players notched at least one sack, including linebacker Ernest Jones (7 tackles, 3 QB hits, 1 PD, 1 sack). However, it was a team effort for a talented defense, so we’re going to confirm Kupp’s selection here, as everyone else on the Rams offense seemed sluggish and slow in this one.
2021 NFL ROTY: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati & Micah Parsons, LB, Dallas (original); Parsons (revised)
Both ROTY vote winners played for postseason participants, so Benagls WR Ja’Marr Chase (1,476 total yards with 13 TDs) and Dallas Cowboys LB Micah Parsons (64 tackles, 13 sacks) are in our conversation. We’re also going to add these playoff participants to this discussion: New England Patriots QB Mac Jones (3,801 passing yards for 22 TDs with a 92.5 QB rating) and Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris (1,667 total yards and 10 TDs). Where to go from here?
Well, only Pittsburgh made the postseason in 2020, so that reduces us to a trio: The Cowboys jumped from 6 wins to 12 wins, while the Bengals leaped from 4 wins to 10 wins. New England managed just half those improvements, so that reduces us to Chase and Parsons, showing the voters may have gotten this one correct! Cincy scored 149 more points on offense with their rookie WR, and Dallas shaved 125 points off their points-allowed mark, so that’s basically a wash when we consider team injuries, etc.
We see Chase as the key to the Cincy offense, in truth (not Burrow). Chase is a unique talent; Parsons also brings something special to the table, too. The Bengals had a plethora of talented players on their offense (two other WRs and good RBs). The Cowboys defense didn’t have anyone else with more than 6 sacks, and Parsons was second on the team in total tackles. That’s pretty impressive, actually. He became something of a one-man wrecking crew on the Dallas D. Parsons is our pick … barely.