The New Orleans Saints already have a sleeper MVP candidate in Michael Thomas and also have a Defensive Player of the Year candidate that is not receiving enough praise.
The situation is perfect for Michael Thomas to make history and become the first-ever wide receiver to win the MVP. Granted, he needs Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens to slow down, but if the New Orleans Saints wide receiver breaks the all-time receptions record then he id worth talking about.
Thomas is not shackled by having one quarterback outshine his performance, as Drew Brees missed five games of the season. If the New Orleans Saints end up finishing with the best record in football then it is going to be hard not to love Thomas as MVP.
Thomas is not the only player that is not getting the credit he deserves for a year-end award. The New Orleans Saints also have a candidate on the defensive side of the ball that should have catapulted himself in the discussion for Defensive Player of the Year, Cameron Jordan.
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Jordan recorded four sacks against the Atlanta Falcons on Thanksgiving to move his season total up to 13.5, which puts him second behind Shaquil Barrett. While it is understandable that he was not in the conversation before, he certainly deserves to be in it after his massive game, especially if he can continue getting to the quarterback.
Jordan did catapult himself up in the eye of the public but he is still well behind the consensus favorites in Stephon Gilmore and Aaron Donald. Gilmore has been the best player on the New England Patriots’ stout defense and Donald benefits from already being highly praised even though his season has not been as good as Jordan’s.
The case for Jordan really is not that hard to make. First of all, Jordan would have to surpass Barrett (who has 14.5 sacks) as the NFL sacks leader and would have to average at least one sack in the final four games to do so, leaving him with 17.5.
If Jordan really wants to cement his case for Defensive Player of the Year, he should aim to average 1.5 sacks in the last four games. That would leave him with 19.5. If he were to get to 20 sacks then it would be the 13th time in NFL history that it happened since sacks started being accounted for in 1982.
What about Gilmore? He has had a fine season and has been the most crucial part of the Patriots’ defense. However, now that the Patriots are playing good compeition they do not look as dominant as they did at the beginning of the year, which will sway the voters.
Donald should not even be in the running, quite frankly. Minkah Fitzpatrick is a name to keep in mind because of his impact on the Pittsburgh Steelers but he would need a stellar finish to the season to overcome the secondary bias that voters have.
A member of the secondary has not won Defensive Player of the Year since 2010 when Troy Polamalu won the award. Charles Woodson was the last cornerback to win the award in 2009 and it took nine touchdowns and three pick-sixes. Fitzpatrick has five interceptions with four games remaining.
There is the possibility of Jordan slowing down in the last four games but we do not have any reason to believe he will. He is one of four players to have four games with at least 1.5 sacks.
Jordan is not coming up against elite competition, either. The 49ers and Colts are good, not great, at not allowing pressure to the quarterback as they are tied for 10th in sacks allowed per game with two.
The Carolina Panthers rank 29th, allowing 3.8 sacks per game (5.8 in the last three) and the Tennessee Titans rank 31st, allowing 4.1 sacks per game.
The stars are aligned for Jordan to continue his momentum from Thanksgiving, especially as the face of a New Orleans Saints’ defense that has exceeded everyone’s expectations.