After five weeks of action, the NFL awards picture is starting to materialize. While much can and will change over the next three months, a handful of candidates have already jumped out to early leads in their respective categories.
The MVP race is down to a handful of elite quarterbacks, Rookie of the Year is likely going to be a two-man battle the rest of the way and one coach already sticks out as the year's best.
Based on performances through the first five weeks of the season, here is a look at the top candidates to take home each major NFL honor.
Most Valuable Player: QB Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
Other Candidates: QB Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals; QB Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers; QB Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
For the second successive year, Josh Allen has the Bills offense firing on all cylinders early in the season. After starting last term with a 4-1 record and 16 total touchdowns, the fourth-year QB again has his team sitting at 4-1 and has been responsible for 15 scores.
While the 25-year-old fell off a bit down the stretch and lost out on the MVP award to a red-hot Aaron Rodgers in 2020, he looks in control of the race this time around.
Buffalo has become the team to beat thanks to Allen. The team played a rather soft schedule over the first month of the campaign, but the quarterback and the Bills silenced doubters with a dominant 38-20 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday night.
Allen even had the NFL's version of a "Heisman moment" during that game. Facing 3rd-and-4 in the fourth quarter with Kansas City still in striking distance, the quarterback scrambled to his left and hurdled over cornerback L'Jarius Sneed to move the chains.
The Wyoming product's hurdle was the top highlight in a contest where he completed only 15 passes but still racked up 315 yards and a trio of touchdowns without taking a sack or committing a turnover.
Arguments could be made for Murray, Prescott and Herbert to be crowned MVP, but none has been as impactful for their teams as Allen. If he can keep it up for 12 more games, he'll be celebrating his first MVP award.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: QB Mac Jones, New England Patriots
Other Candidates: WR Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals; OT Rashawn Slater, Los Angeles Chargers
Mac Jones is off to a sterling start to his professional career. He has completed 71.1 percent of his passes—making him the fifth-most accurate quarterback in football—for 1,243 yards and five touchdowns.
While 23-year-old hasn't been perfect—he's thrown five interceptions, taken 11 sacks and fumbled twice—he's shown plenty of poise and confidence under center. The Patriots 2-3, but two of those losses came by less than three points.
Jones' most impressive performance came in a losing effort. In a hyped primetime duel against Tom Brady and the defending-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jones managed to keep New England in the game for four full quarters. He completed 31-of-40 passes for 275 yards and two scores before the Pats lost on a missed field goal in the waning moments.
If the Alabama product can continue developing on his current trajectory, the Rookie of the Year award won't be the only hardware he takes home during his career.
Chase seems like the only one who can catch Jones in the OROY race. After a concerning preseason and training camp full of drops, the Bengals wideout has shown why he was the first receiver selected this year.
The 21-year-old has built upon the chemistry he established with quarterback Joe Burrow during their time together at LSU. The battery has connected 23 times for 456 yards and five scores, tying him for the second-most receiving touchdowns in the league.