Chiefs QB Ma­homes tops early hon­ors list

Mack, Ka­mara also get awards for first quar­ter

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - FROM THE COVER - By Gil­bert Man­zano Con­tact Gil­bert Man­zano at gman­zano@re­viewjour­nal.com. Fol­low @GMan­zano24 on Twit­ter.

Aaron Rodgers’ in­cred­i­ble come­back against the Chicago Bears in Week 1 feels like an af­ter­thought. That’s how wild the first month of the NFL sea­son was.

NFL of­fenses set records in points scored (3,030), to­tal touch­downs (344) and touch­down passes (228) through four weeks.

There were two ties and a hand­ful of other down-to-the-wire over­time games. Thirty-eight games were de­cided by eight points or fewer, the most in league his­tory through Week 4.

Many play­ers have stood out amid the dra­matic fin­ishes. Here are the award win­ners for the first quar­ter of the sea­son:

Most Valu­able Player Pa­trick Ma­homes, QB, Chiefs

ESPN’s “Mon­day Night Foot­ball” crew tried its hard­est last week to make “Show­time” Ma­homes stick.

Stop it. No need to give the sec­ond-year quar­ter­back an overused moniker. His play is turn­ing him into a house­hold name.

Ma­homes ar­guably had the best Septem­ber of any QB in NFL his­tory. He leads the league in touch­down passes with 14 and hasn’t thrown an in­ter­cep­tion. His QB rat­ing of 126.5 ranks sec­ond in the league be­hind Jared Goff ’s 127.3.

Ma­homes turned many doubters into be­liev­ers af­ter he led the Chiefs to a 10-point fourth-quar­ter come­back against the Bron­cos last week to re­main un­de­feated.

De­fen­sive Player of the Year Khalil Mack, OLB, Bears

It’s rare when a de­fen­sive player gar­ners MVP chat­ter. Mack has done just that in his first sea­son with the Bears and is on pace to be­come a unan­i­mous De­fen­sive Player of the Year re­cip­i­ent.

Mack is first in the league in forced fum­bles (four) and sec­ond in sacks (five). He also has 17 com­bined tack­les and an in­ter­cep­tion re­turn for a touch­down.

Mack’s ar­rival turned the Bears from a top-10 de­fense into ar­guably the league’s best af­ter four games. The Raiders badly miss their for­mer de­fen­sive star.

Of­fen­sive Player of the Year Alvin Ka­mara, RB, Saints

There’s a strong case to be made that Ka­mara is the best run­ning back in the league. Todd Gur­ley, Ezekiel El­liott and Le’Veon Bell are dom­i­nant run­ning backs, but they aren’t as dy­namic as Ka­mara, who can run through lineback­ers and out­run the best corner­backs.

Ka­mara has a league-best 611 yards from scrim­mage. He ranks third in re­cep­tions with 35 and has five rush­ing touch­downs. There’s noth­ing he can’t do, and he proved he’s a three-down back with Mark In­gram sus­pended for the first four games.

Coach of the Year Mike Vra­bel, Ti­tans

If it wasn’t for a strange seven-hour game in Week 1 against the Dol­phins, Vra­bel prob­a­bly would have been per­fect in his first month with the Ti­tans.

The 3-1 Ti­tans have sig­na­ture wins over the Jaguars and Ea­gles. Vra­bel out­coached the Tex­ans in a Week 2 vic­tory with Blaine Gab­bert as the start­ing quar­ter­back.

Vra­bel has the de­fense play­ing at a high level, and of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Matt LaFleur is giv­ing Mar­cus Mar­i­ota creative play calls. The Ti­tans might be real con­tenders in the AFC.

Of­fen­sive Rookie of the Year Phillip Lind­say, RB, Bron­cos

This was a tough choice, and most likely a quar­ter­back will win it at the end of the sea­son, but Lind­say de­serves some love af­ter the first quar­ter.

The un­drafted run­ning back from Colorado is more than just a third­down back. He leads the Bron­cos in car­ries (45) and rush­ing yards (267). He’s lead­ing all rook­ies in rush­ing yards.

Lind­say’s dan­ger­ous speed adds an­other di­men­sion to the Bron­cos’ of­fense. The one-two punch of Lind­say and fel­low rookie Royce Free­man is giv­ing de­fenses fits.

De­fen­sive Rookie of the Year Der­win James, safety, Charg­ers

It might not be crazy to say James is al­ready one of the best safeties in foot­ball. The spe­cial ones make their pres­ence felt in pass de­fense and rush­ing the quar­ter­back. That’s what James brings to the Charg­ers.

James be­came the first de­fen­sive back in NFL his­tory to record three sacks in his first four games. The No. 17 over­all pick in the draft spent the first four weeks play­ing many po­si­tions.

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