Greg Cote

NFL’s big story? Return of Tom Brady? Nah. It’s our King Sport First Quarter Awards!

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan throws against the Carolina Panthers on Sun., Oct. 2, 2016 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan throws against the Carolina Panthers on Sun., Oct. 2, 2016 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. TNS

Thirty of 32 NFL teams have played four of their 16 regular-season games. That’s close enough for us. The story in the league this week is Tom Brady’s return from suspension, but the story here is our King Sport First Quarter Awards:

▪ MVP: Matt Ryan, Falcons QB. Might not last, but Ryan ends season’s first quarter leading NFL in most important passing categories and has the ATL a surprising 3-1. On pace for 5,892 passing yards, which would shatter record.

▪ Offensive POY: Ryan. No other QB and no receiver or running back is on record pace like Ryan is. Big Ben Roethlisberger in the mix, though.

▪ Defensive POY: Von Miller, Broncos OLB. Miller leads league in sacks with 5 1/2 as the engine and catalyst for an unbeaten team that wins with defense.

▪ Offensive rookie: Carson Wentz, Eagles QB. Thick field, though. Dallas teammates Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott challenge, and Texans’ Will Fuller is interesting long shot.

▪ Defensive rookie: Jalen Ramsey, Jaguars CB. Toughest call, but Ramsey, at a crucial position, leads all NFL cornerbacks targeted at least 10 times in fewest yards allowed per catch.

▪ Coach of the year: Mike Zimmer, Vikings. When you lose your budding-star quarterback, your superstar running back and you’re still 4-0, you are doing something very right.

▪ Dolphins MVP: Jarvis Landry, WR. Slim pickings, I know, but, although he has only one TD, Landry is on early pace to catch 124 passes for 1,500 yards.


▪ Old Cane Frank Gore of Colts last week moved up to 10th in all-time rushing with 12,293 yards, leapfrogging Marcus Allen, fellow ex-UM’er Edgerrin James and Marshall Faulk. Twenty more yards and he passes iconic Jim Brown.

▪ Only three QBs who had never before started an NFL game have opened a season 5-0 in Super Bowl Era: Dieter Brock (1985 L.A. Rams), Kurt Warner (’99 St. Louis Rams ) and Daunte Culpepper (2000 Vikings). Denver’s Trevor Siemian could join the list Sunday.

▪ Hope for the mediocre or worse? Since 1990, 37.5 percent of all playoff teams (117 of 312) were 2-2 or worse at this point, including six of 12 last season. However, 94 of those were 2-2. Only 25 were 1-3. And the only 0-4 to do it was San Diego in 1992.

▪ Matt Ryan and Julio Jones last week made Falcons first team ever with 500-yard passer and 300-yard catcher in same game — an 87-point fantasy league combo.

▪ The Redskins’ Jordan Reed became the fastest tight end to reach 200 career catches, in his 38th game. Prior mark was 39 games by Kellen Winslow.

▪ The Cowboys’ Dak Prescott has the most pass attempts in a season without an interception (131) by any rookie beginning his career. (Eagles rookie Carson Wentz is at 103.)

▪ Most scoring catches since start of the 2015 season? It’s 17 by the Jags’ Allen Robinson.

▪ The Texans’ Will Fuller became the fourth rookie since 2010 with a TD catch and punt-return score in the same game, joining Dez Bryant, former FIU star T.Y. Hilton and Tavon Austin.

▪ Derek Carr is the first Raiders QB since Rich Gannon in 1999 and 2000 to have a four-TD/no-pick game in back-to-back seasons.

▪ The 47 games decided by eight points or fewer are tied with 2004 for most ever through four weeks.

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