In most years, Payton would probably be considered more of a front-runner for the way he has returned the Saints to prominence following his season-long suspension. But the Chiefs’ remarkable turnaround from a 2-14 season in 2012 will be hard to top.
Payton might just have to settle for being a hero among his peers for proving just how valuable a NFL head coach is. The Saints were 13-3 with Payton in 2011, 7-9 during his suspension, and now they’re back to 9-2.
There’s still time for the pecking order to change – and this week’s games could make a huge impact. The Chiefs (9-2) are hosting the Denver Broncos (9-2) on Sunday, with the AFC’s top seed possibly hanging in the balance. The Saints will play at the Seattle Seahawks (10-1) on “Monday Night Football,” with the top spot in the NFC still up for grabs.
If the Saints wind up as the NFC’s top seed with something like a 13-3 record, and the Chiefs wind up as the fifth seed at something like 11-5, it’s still possible for Payton to win his second Coach of the Year award (previously in 2006). Even then, Reid might be the front-runner.
Likewise, Saints quarterback Drew Brees is still currently playing second fiddle to Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in the MVP race. But if the Saints finish strong and the Broncos stumble a bit down the stretch, it’s possible for Brees to finally win his first MVP after finishing runner-up three times (in 2006, 2009 and 2011).