The NFL plays a 16-game regular season and 30 of 32 teams have played four games. I consulted two mathematicians I trust, Euclid and Galileo, and each told me — one by email, the other by text — that this therefore would be an appropriate time to present our King Sport First Quarter Awards:
• MVP — Peyton Manning, Broncos QB: This was the most lopsided vote since Desmond Tutu and I were finalists for the 1984 Nobel peace prize. Manning has put up 179 points with 16 touchdowns and zero picks. No one is close. I see Tom Brady and Drew Brees off in the distance, but they have already been lapped.
• Offensive Player of the Year — Manning: This is more an individual, stats-driven honor, but, again, Peyton is on pace for 64 TD passes. C’mon! Saints tight end Jimmy Graham has caught our early eye here, too, though, with 27 receptions for 458 yards and a league-leading six TD catches.
• Defensive POY — Justin Houston, Chiefs LB: He already has 7.5 sacks as the catalyst for surprising Kansas City. (Sacks leader on undefeated team is a proven formula in this category). Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman also deserves early keep-an-eye-on status. Also, a shoutout — for his name alone — to Bengals LB and NFL tackles leader Vontaze Burfict.
• Offensive Rookie of the Year — DeAndre Hopkins, Texans WR: This category is wide-open, but Hopkins’ 20 catches for 270 yards draw early notice. Don’t give up hope, Jets QB Geno Smith of Miami, although a severe cutback in turnovers would help. (A dark horse here even though kickers never win? Miami’s Caleb Sturgis).
• Defensive ROY — Kiko Alonso, Bills LB: He has a rookie-high 32 tackles and four interceptions for the early inside rail. The bigger-name/higher-drafted rookie defenders must catch the kid out of Oregon.
• Coach of the year — Sean Payton, Saints: Review what his Bountygate absence did to this team a year ago, and what his return has meant. Bunch of strong early candidates, though, including Chiefs’ Andy Reid, Bears’ Marc Trestman, Pats’ Bill Belichick, Titans’ Mike Munchak and Dolphins’ Joe Philbin.
• Dolphins MVP — Ryan Tannehill, QB: He’s on a 4,000-yard pace and his two comebacks have Miami 3-1. You know who might be my second choice? Sturgis, the kicker.
Scatter-shooting the league:
• This is only fourth time there have been five 4-0 teams, but the ’72 Dolphins needn’t start paying much attention yet. First, all five are on the road Sunday in games they could lose against opponents a combined 13-7. Second, they’ll start knocking each other off. Broncos still play Chiefs (twice) and Patriots. Pats also play Saints. Saints also play Seahawks.
• Denver, if it beats Dallas by at least seven points Sunday, would tie the record set by the 1941-42 Bears with a 16th consecutive regular-season win by seven-plus.
• The 205 touchdown passes league-wide and 10 400-yard games are most ever through four weeks.
• Giants’ Victor Cruz and Vikes’ Greg Jennings each had their seventh career TD pass of 70-plus yards last week. Record is nine by Jerry Rice.
• Should teams entering Week 5 with losing records be worried? Yes. One 1-3 team since 2008 has made playoffs.
• Could be Milestone Sunday for NFL’s top coach/QB duo. Next win by Pats’ Belichick passes Chuck Noll for fifth all-time behind Don Shula, George Halas, Tom Landry and Curly Lambeau. And two more TD passes move Brady ahead of Fran Tarkenton into fourth all-time after Brett Favre, P. Manning and Dan Marino.
• Seem like a lot of quality teams/good games in Week 5? Here’s why: Four teams on a bye are a combined 2-14.