I love the smell of awards in the morning. Smells like victory.
And, yes, for most players and coaches who get mentioned in this space, victory is a prerequisite.
There have been and may be exceptions, but the general rule remains to the victor go the spoils.
Here are the folks who spoiled us this week with the best performances in winning efforts.
Offensive player of the week: Bills quarterback Josh Allen.
The MVP favorite showed his value on Sunday in Kansa City, completing 27 of 40 passes for 329 yards and three touchdowns. Allen also ran for 32 yards, including an impressive hurdle during the game-winning drive.
He has been spectacular this season, and the Bills are 5-1 because of it. He has played well enough for the Bills to be unbeaten.
With a one-game lead and the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Chiefs, maybe the Bills will force the postseason rematch to happen in Buffalo, if there’s another one this year.
Other finalists: Colts quarterback Matt Ryan (42 for 58, 389 yards, three touchdowns), Bills receiver Stefon Diggs (10 catches, 148 yards, one touchdown), Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (28 for 37, 300 yards, three touchdowns), Bengals receiver Ja’Marr Chase (seven catches, 132 yards, two touchdowns).
Defensive player of the week: Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams.
Williams is becoming an All-Pro before our eyes. After Sunday’s rollicking 27-10 win over the Packers at Lambeau Field, he told PFT by phone that the team is better, and he personally is better, because of all of the great players who are now around him -- and he rattled off a long list of them.
That help allowed the third overall pick in 2019 to dominate the Packers, with a pair of sacks, a forced fumble, and a blocked field goal.
Along the way, he overcame a poke in the eye. He told me that he always wears a visor during games, that he took it off when it started raining, and that he promptly got a finger in the eye. So he put the visor back on -- and he said he’ll be keeping it on in the future, no matter what.
Other finalists: Bills defensive end Von Miller (two sacks), Eagles defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson (two interceptions).
Rookie of the week: Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner.
We rarely give recognition to two people from the same team, but the Jets rookie is the real deal.
On Sunday, Gardner allowed only one catch for eight yards. He was targeted six times, and he broke up three passes. Per PFF, he leads the league with seven this season.
After the game, Sauce cut the cheeseheads to the core, getting his hands on the signature headgear, dropping it onto his head, and parading around with it. In the 30 years since fromage because part of the typical Packers fan’s haberdashery, something like that simply hasn’t happened.
Other finalists: Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe (24 for 34, 309 yards, two touchdowns), Jets running back Breece Hall (20 carries, 116 yards, one touchdown), Seahawks cornerback Tariq Woolen (an interception for fourth straight game), Seahawks running back Ken Walker III (21 carries, 97 yards, one touchdown).
Coach of the week: Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.
Despite a rash of injuries, a general sense of malaise, and the inability to ever win a game without T.J. Watt in the lineup, Pittsburgh put together a masterpiece in taking out the GOAT.
Tomlin got a little help from former Patriots assistant Brian Flores, who knows Bucs quarterback Tom Brady very well. After the game, defensive lineman Cam Heyward told PFT by phone that Flores advised the defense to not bother trying to confuse Brady with pre-snap looks, because it won’t work. The goal should be, and was, to get after Brady by bursting through the offensive line and hurrying him to get rid of the ball.
The Steelers consistently did that, and the men responsible for blocking for Brady heard about it.
The rest of the AFC may be hearing about it from the Steelers. After all the losses, they’re only one game out of first place in AFC North.
Other finalists: Giants coach Brian Daboll, Jets coach Robert Saleh, Bills coach Sean McDermott, Eagles coach Nick Sirianni, Falcons coach Arthur Smith.
Play of the week: Taron Johnson’s game-saving interception.
After Josh Allen did his job, the defense had to do theirs. And thanks to pressure from Von Miller and Matt Milano, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes had to get rid of the ball before he wanted to -- and Johnson was there to make the game-clinching pick.
Other finalists: Bengals receiver Ja’Marr Chase’s 60-yard catch and run for a touchdown, Josh Allen’s hurdle, Colts receiver Alec Pierce’s 32-yard touchdown catch, Bills receiver Gabe Davis’s 34-yard touchdown catch, Vikings running back Dalvin Cook’s 54-yard touchdown run, Jets RB Breece Hall’s 34-yard touchdown run.