In about the time it took him to say, “Hello, my name is Sam and I’ll be your franchise quarterback for the next 15 to 19 games or so,” Sam Bradford has …

• Shot to No. 2 in the league in passer rating. He’s at 109.7. His career mark is 82.5.

• Completed 70.4 percent of his passes, also second-best in the league. His career mark is 60.7.

• Matched his career high of four games without an interception. No picks in 125 passes.

• Played four games with the Vikings and posted a career-best four-game winning streak as a starter. He once won three straight for St. Louis in 2012.

• Outplayed Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Eli Manning on back-to-back-to-back weeks.

• Become the early front-runner for NFL MVP on the league’s only remaining undefeated team.

If Bradford, the first overall pick in 2010, were to win MVP, he would join John Elway as the only player to be selected No. 1 overall in the regular draft by one team and win MVP with another. Elway was drafted No. 1 by the Baltimore Colts in 1983. He forced a trade to Denver, where he won MVP in 1987. Steve Young was selected No. 1 by Tampa Bay in the 1984 supplemental draft and won MVP with the 49ers in 1994.

Some other early MVP contenders: Dak Prescott, Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger and Derek Carr.

Defensive Player of the Year

If you thought Bradford winning MVP with the Vikings would have sounded weird two months ago, you’ll like this early front-runner for NFL Defensive Player of the Year:

Lorenzo Alexander.


Career journeyman linebacker. The Bills are his sixth team since he went undrafted in 2005.

Entering 2016, Alexander had nine sacks in nine seasons. He never had more than 2½ in one game. In last Sunday’s blowout victory at Los Angeles, he had three sacks to give him a league-high seven in five games. He also has forced two fumbles and helped Rex Ryan’s defense rank fifth in scoring (17.4).

The Vikings are first in scoring defense (12.6), but can the league’s Defensive Player of the Year come from a unit that’s so well-balanced and team-oriented? Three players are tied with four sacks apiece. Six players have at least one interception.

Right now, the Vikings have almost as many candidates for team defensive MVP as the Republicans did for president when they started their race for the White House.

I’ll cast an early vote for Everson Griffen for Vikings defensive MVP. Another early front-runner for NFL Defensive Player of the Year: Von Miller.

Coach of the Year

This is a tough one.

Bill Belichick went 3-1 without Tom Brady. Jason Garrett lost Tony Romo but already has matched last year’s win total of four with the rookie Prescott at quarterback. Doug Pederson took over a 7-9 Eagles team and is 3-1 after trading Bradford and going with rookie Carson Wentz. In Atlanta, Dan Quinn is halfway to last year’s win total of eight. Jack Del Rio has the Raiders off to a 4-1 start that includes the gutsiest call of the year — going for two and the win in the closing seconds at New Orleans in Week 1.

And, of course, there’s Mike Zimmer. Zim has one of the best injured reserve units ever assembled. He’s got a franchise quarterback, a Hall of Fame running back, both starting tackles and $33 million of cap space sitting on IR.

And he’s 5-0. Winner. At least so far.

And if Zim hangs on and wins with all this quality depth, it’s a package deal with General Manager Rick Spiel­man winning Executive of the Year.

Rookie of the Year

Wentz has been amazing as the second overall pick. Ditto for Dallas first-round pick Ezekiel Elliott, who leads the league in rushing while averaging 5.0 yards per carry. But Elliott’s teammate Prescott is the early front-runner as an unbelievable find in the fourth round.

A year ago, the Cowboys went 1-11 without Tony Romo. They are 4-1 without him this season. They took Prescott as a project player, and he’s completing 69 percent of his passes, hasn’t thrown an interception in 155 passes, has a 101.5 passer rating and has rushed for three touchdowns.


The Patriots won’t lose another regular-season game, and their average margin of victory will be vengeful. Belichick and Brady tend to spread the pain after they’ve been punished by the league office.