2019 Football Outsiders Awards

San Francisco 49ers defenders
San Francisco 49ers defenders
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Welcome to the results of the 17th annual Football Outsiders Awards -- the best and worst players of the year, as voted on by you, our readers. For those curious about the FO Award winners in past years, you will find links to each of the previous FO Awards articles on this page. Last year's awards, specifically, are found here.

Who is your choice for 2019 NFL MVP? (Last Year's Winner: Patrick Mahomes, QB, KC)

77.7% Lamar Jackson, BAL
13.8% Russell Wilson, SEA
5.6% Patrick Mahomes, KC
1.4% Drew Brees, NO
0.8% Dak Prescott, DAL
0.6% Deshaun Watson, HOU

As noted in our Quick Reads Year in Review, Lamar Jackson finished second behind Dallas' Dak Prescott among quarterbacks in combined DYAR despite sitting out the Week 17 game against Pittsburgh. On a per-game basis, Jackson led Prescott 102.1 DYAR to 100.5. Jackson broke quarterback records with 1,206 rushing yards on 176 carries (breaking his own record in the latter category), and also led the NFL with 36 passing touchdowns and an 81.1 QBR. He was second in passing DVOA behind Drew Brees, who missed five games. His leading receiver was tight end Mark Andrews, a former third-round draft pick in his second season. And he did this on a team that won 14 games and home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs. Russell Wilson finishes in a distant second place; he led the NFL with five game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime. Patrick Mahomes winds up in third place, exactly matching his ranking in both passing DYAR and DVOA this year.

(Note that Patrick Mahomes was technically elected "Offensive MVP" for 2018, not NFL MVP. We split that award in two this year.)

Who is your choice for 2019 Offensive Player of the Year (non-QB)? (New Category)

49.4% Christian McCaffrey, RB, CAR
30.3% Michael Thomas, WR, NO
16.3% George Kittle, TE, SF
1.7% Ronnie Stanley, OT, BAL
1.1% Travis Kelce, TE, KC
0.6% Chris Godwin, WR, TB
0.3% Ezekiel Elliott, RB, DAL
0.3% Darren Waller, TE, OAK

In the modern NFL, it's virtually impossible for a non-quarterback to really be the league's MVP, so this year we have added a second award for offensive players who don't (often) throw the ball. In what was really a two-horse race, our readers voted for the all-purpose running back over the record-setting receiver. This may have come down to the context of each player's teammates. While Michael Thomas was fortunate to be catching passes from Drew Brees and Teddy Bridgewater (perhaps the NFL's best starter and best backup at the quarterback position), Christian McCaffrey was left carrying an offense with Kyle Allen, Will Grier, and a one-footed Cam Newton taking snaps. George Kittle earns the bronze medal for being the lead receiver on a Super Bowl team while also blocking as well as a top-flight offensive lineman.

Who is your choice for 2019 Defensive Player of the Year? (Last Year's Winner: Aaron Donald, DT, LAR)

37.4% Stephon Gilmore, CB, NE
17.0% Aaron Donald, DT, LAR
16.1% Nick Bosa, DE, SF
10.2% T.J. Watt, OLB, PIT
8.5% Shaquil Barrett, OLB, TB
5.1% Za'Darius Smith, OLB, GB
3.4% Tre'Davious White, CB, BUF
2.3% Cameron Jordan, DE, NO

The best player on the league's best defense takes home the gold here. Stephon Gilmore's individual per-target coverage stats were good, but not great -- he was just 19th in yards allowed per target, 27th in success rate -- but his performance was a big reason the Patriots had the league's best defensive DVOA against No. 1 wide receivers. Aaron Donald finishes second for the award that may bear his name some day -- he won it in both 2017 and 2018, and has finished fourth or better in each of his six NFL seasons. We'll have more to say about Nick Bosa shortly.

Who is your choice for 2019 Offensive Rookie of the Year? (Last Year's Winner: Baker Mayfield, QB, CLE)

28.6% A.J. Brown, WR, TEN
20.1% Kyler Murray, QB, ARI
18.7% Josh Jacobs, RB, OAK
14.4% DK Metcalf, WR, SEA
7.9% Terry McLaurin, WR, WAS
5.1% Erik McCoy, C, NO
3.1% Elgton Jenkins, G, GB
2.0% Miles Sanders, RB, PHI

Tennessee's freshman deep threat comes out on top of a very crowded field. A second-round pick out of Mississippi, Brown led all rookies with 1,051 receiving yards and tied the Giants' Darius Slayton with eight touchdowns. He averaged 20.2 yards per catch, second in the NFL behind the Chargers' Mike Williams, and was fifth among wideouts in receiving DVOA. Kyler Murray was the only rookie quarterback to start every game this season, and he finished with the fourth-best fantasy season among first-year passers in league history. Oakland's Josh Jacobs averaged 88.5 rushing yards per game, third behind Tennessee's Derrick Henry (102.7) and Cleveland's Nick Chubb (93.4).

Who is your choice for 2019 Defensive Rookie of the Year? (Last Year's Winner: Darius Leonard, LB, IND)

87.5% Nick Bosa, DE, SF
5.1% Devin Bush, ILB, PIT
4.3% Josh Allen, DE, JAX
1.4% Devin White, ILB, TB
0.9% Brian Burns, OLB, CAR
0.9% Darnell Savage, SS, GB

Nick Bosa "only" had 9.0 sacks, third among rookies behind Tennessee's Josh Allen (10.5) and Oakland's Maxx Crosby (10.0), but that doesn't accurately reflect how he disrupted opposing offenses. He led all rookies with 25 QB hits and was tied with Crosby with 16 tackles for loss, and he was third among all NFL players with 62.0 pass pressures according to Sports Info Solutions charting. He's a slam-dunk winner here. He's followed by the rookie leaders in tackles and sacks, Pittsburgh's Devin Bush and Allen.

Who was the best offensive lineman of 2019? (Last Year's Winner: Quenton Nelson, G, IND)

20.5% Ronnie Stanley, OT, BAL
15.0% Quenton Nelson, G, IND
8.1% Marshal Yanda, G, BAL
7.0% Mitchell Schwartz, OT, KC
7.0% Ryan Ramczyk, OT, NO
6.6% Brandon Brooks, G, PHI
5.1% David Bakhtiari, OT, GB
4.0% Jason Kelce, C, PHI
2.9% Taylor Lewan, OT, TEN
2.9% Zack Martin, G, DAL

The Ravens pick up another award, as Baltimore linemen finish first and third in this category. Ronnie Stanley, the sixth overall draft pick in 2016, finally lived up to that draft status, making the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams for the first time. For teammate Marshal Yanda, however, those kind of accolades are old hat -- this was his eighth Pro Bowl nomination and second All-Pro appearance. Quenton Nelson, last year's winner in this category, has made both teams in each of his first two NFL seasons.

What is your choice for Unit of the Year in 2019? (Last Year's Winner: Indianapolis offensive line)

33.2% San Francisco defensive line/edge rushers
24.1% New England secondary
19.6% Baltimore offensive line
13.9% Kansas City wide receivers/tight ends
5.7% Pittsburgh defensive line/edge rushers
2.8% Tampa Bay wide receivers/tight ends
0.6% Green Bay offensive line
0.0% Dallas offensive line

We mentioned Nick Bosa earlier, but he didn't even lead his own team in sacks -- that was Arik Armstead, who had 10.0 in his fifth year after tallying just 9.0 in his first four seasons. DeForest Buckner and Dee Ford also had more than a half-dozen each, helping the 49ers finish second in adjusted sack rate. The whole front seven was strong, as linebackers Fred Warner and Kwon Alexander excelled in pass coverage -- San Francisco was first in DVOA against passes to running backs and second in DVOA against tight ends. The Patriots, meanwhile, were first in that category against No. 1 wide receivers, No. 2 wide receivers, and "other" wideouts as well; Jason McCourty and J.C. Jackson finished first and second among qualifying cornerbacks in success rate. We already discussed how impressive Baltimore's offensive line was this year.

Who is 2019 NFL Head Coach of the Year? (Last Year's Winner: Frank Reich, IND)

35.9% John Harbaugh, BAL
24.0% Kyle Shanahan, SF
10.2% Andy Reid, KC
8.5% Mike Vrabel, TEN
6.5% Mike Tomlin, PIT
6.2% Brian Flores, MIA
4.0% Bill Belichick, NE
2.0% Sean McDermott, BUF
2.0% Sean Payton, NO
0.8% Matt LaFleur, GB

Yes, we accidentally called him "Jim" in our online balloting, but rest assured, we tallied all of John Harbaugh's votes, and he had more of them than anyone else. Harbaugh led the Ravens to a league-high 14 wins while integrating new starters at wide receiver (rookies Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin) and in the secondary (free-agent signee Earl Thomas, midseason trade acquisition Marcus Peters). He also blew up the scale for aggressiveness index. Kyle Shanahan's 49ers had the best record in the NFC, as we finally got to see his offense in San Francisco with a full complement of weapons. Andy Reid's value in Kansas City was shown in the two games Patrick Mahomes missed; with Matt Moore at quarterback, the Chiefs beat one playoff team (the Vikings) and nearly beat another (the Packers).

Who wins 2019 Bill Arnsparger Award for Coordinator of the Year? (Last Year's Winner: Vic Fangio, CHI defense)

67.3% Greg Roman, BAL offense
20.3% Robert Saleh, SF defense
3.4% Keith Butler, PIT defense
3.2% Kellen Moore, DAL offense
2.9% Todd Bowles, TB defense
2.9% Arthur Smith, TEN offense

As talented as Lamar Jackson is as a runner, he's not the first NFL quarterback capable of outrunning defenders. He is, however, the first to play with an offensive coordinator as willing as Greg Roman to embrace that rushing ability. Colin Kaepernick and Tyrod Taylor both had big rushing years for Roman in San Francisco and Buffalo, respectively, and the coach's union with Jackson in Baltimore has been one of the NFL's best marriages. In San Francisco, Robert Saleh's 49ers improved from 23rd to second in defensive DVOA. As good as Saleh's defense was, however, it was Keith Butler's Pittsburgh Steelers who led the league in sacks and adjusted sack rate.

Who wins 2019 Art Rooney Jr. Award for Executive of the Year? (Last Year's Winner: Chris Ballard, IND)

45.2% John Lynch, SF
18.2% Eric DeCosta, BAL
11.0% Brandon Beane, BUF
7.5% Brian Gutekunst, GB
7.2% John Schneider, SEA
6.1% Brett Veach, KC
3.2% Bill Belichick, NE
1.7% Rick Spielman, MIN

As is usually the case, the executive of the "year" award goes to the man who has spent two or three years building his team. John Lynch's greatest acquisitions this year were Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, and Kwon Alexander, plus the midseason trade for Emmanuel Sanders, but that doesn't tell the whole story of how quickly he has rebuilt this team. Eighteen players started at least 10 games for San Francisco this year, and 14 of them were acquired by Lynch after he was hired as general manager in 2017. Elsewhere, Eric DeCosta kept things running as smoothly as ever in Baltimore in his first taking over from Ozzie Newsome. In Buffalo, Brandon Beane's Bills roster was deep enough to make the playoffs despite a quarterback who finished just 27th in passing DVOA.

Who is your choice for the 2019 Keep Choppin' Wood Award (player who hurt his team most, on or off the field)? (Last Year's Winner: Blake Bortles, JAX)

66.4% Antonio Brown, WR, OAK/NE
19.5% Mitchell Trubisky, QB, CHI
5.4% Adam Vinatieri, K, IND
4.5% Xavier Rhodes, CB, MIN
2.3% Kalen Ballage, RB, MIA
1.4% Trumaine Johnson, CB, NYJ
0.6% Josh Gordon, WR, NE/SEA
0.0% Dwayne Haskins, QB, WAS

Bryan Knowles and Andrew Potter did a fine job of explaining Antonio Brown's All-KCW credentials in Scramble for the Ball. Suffice to say that if you go back to his Week 17 flameout for the Steelers in 2018, Brown has managed to screw three teams in the past 14 months. Bryan and Andrew also detailed how few players did more to hurt their team on the field than Mitchell Trubisky. One of those players, however, may have been Adam Vinatieri, who led the NFL with six missed extra points and 14 total missed kicks.

Who is your choice for the 2019 Keep Choppin' Game Film Award (most ineffective coach, head coach or coordinator)? (Last Year's Winner: Hue Jackson, CLE head coach)

51.0% Freddie Kitchens, CLE head coach
36.0% Adam Gase, NYJ head coach
7.4% Matt Patricia, DET head coach
2.5% Zac Taylor, CIN head coach
1.7% Pat Shurmur, NYG head coach
1.4% Patrick Graham, MIA defensive coordinator

The Cleveland Browns went 5-3 after firing Hue Jackson in 2018, and had high expectations coming into 2019. But they faceplanted, losing four of their last five games to finish 6-10 and cost Freddie Kitchens his job. Adam Gase's nomination here says less about his performance with the Jets, who finished 7-9 even though Sam Darnold missed three games, and more about the elite performances of some of his old players in Miami. Neither Ryan Tannehill, Kenyan Drake, nor Kenny Stills looked like anything special with the Dolphins, but each finished in the top six in DVOA in his position with new teams in 2019. Matt Patricia's Lions started 2-0-1 with Matthew Stafford, but then won only one game in Stafford's last five starts, then went 0-8 with Jeff Driskel and David Blough under center. They also finished 28th in defensive DVOA after finishing 27th in his first season as head coach in 2018.

Who was the least deserving pick for the Pro Bowl (not including injury replacements)? (Last Year's Winner: Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB)

40.4% Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB
26.6% Jarvis Landry, WR, CLE
7.5% Budda Baker, FS, ARI
6.6% David DeCastro, G, PIT
6.6% Darius Slay, CB, DET
5.7% Mark Andrews, TE, BAL
3.9% Frank Clark, DE, KC
2.7% Calais Campbell, DE, JAX

Mike McCarthy was fired and Matt LaFleur hired to get Aaron Rodgers back to his MVP-caliber performance. The Packers did win 13 games in the regular season and another in the playoffs, but Rodgers' place in the quarterback pantheon appears to have been taken by the Lamar Jacksons, Russell Wilsons, and Patrick Mahomes of the world. Jarvis Landry had a career-high 1,174 receiving yards, but failed to make the top 20 wide receivers in either DYAR or DVOA. Budda Baker led the NFL with 104 solo tackles, but he made few splash plays -- no interceptions, only half a sack, one fumble forced, and six passes defensed.

Who is your choice for most deserving offensive player left off the original Pro Bowl roster? (Last Year's Winner: Alvin Kamara, RB, NO)

34.3% Dak Prescott, QB, DAL
13.7% Mitchell Schwartz, OT, KC
8.8% Courtland Sutton, WR, DEN
8.8% Tyler Lockett, WR, SEA
6.9% Darren Waller, TE, OAK
5.4% Kirk Cousins, QB, MIN
4.9% Julian Edelman, WR, NE
2.0% Aaron Jones, RB, GB
2.0% Lane Johnson, OT, PHI
1.5% Davante Adams, WR, GB

Add Dak Prescott to the list of quarterbacks who have surpassed Aaron Rodgers in the quarterback pecking order -- he led all passers in total DYAR this year. Mitchell Schwatz only missed a dozen offense snaps all season (the first missed snaps of his eight-year NFL career) and helped Kansas City finish third in offensive DVOA. Courtland Sutton put up a 72-1,112-6 statline in Denver despite a revolving door at quarterback between Joe Flacco, Brandon Allen, and Drew Lock.

(We should mention that Green Bay's Aaron Jones, with 1,500-plus yards from scrimmage and a league-leading 19 total touchdowns, might have finished higher if we had remembered to list him as a suggested choice.)

Who is your choice for most deserving defensive player left off the original Pro Bowl roster? (Last Year's Winner: Darius Leonard, LB, IND)

45.0% Za'Darius Smith, OLB, GB
9.4% Eric Kendricks, ILB, MIN
7.3% Josh Allen, DE, JAX
6.8% Jamie Collins, OLB, NE
5.2% Devin McCourty, FS, TEN
5.2% Tremaine Edmunds, ILB, BUF
2.6% J.C. Jackson, CB, NE
2.6% Justin Simmons, FS, DEN
1.6% Kevin Byard, FS, TEN
1.6% Tyrann Mathieu, SS, KC

Green Bay's Za'Darius Smith was second in the NFL with 65.0 pass pressures, and first among "linebackers" if you want to use the Pro Bowl's outdated positional listing. (New Orleans' Cam Jordan, a defensive end, led all players with 67.0.) Minnesota's Eric Kendricks was one of five players with at least 100 total tackles and ten passes defensed. Jacksonville's Josh Allen collected 10.5 sacks as a part-time player -- though he appeared in all 16 games, he only started four times and played just 60% of the Jaguars' defensive snaps.

Who is your choice for most deserving special teams player left off the original Pro Bowl roster? (Last Year's Winner: Justin Tucker, K, BAL)

44.8% Harrison Butker, K, KC
10.4% Nyheim Hines, KR/PR, IND
9.6% Jamal Agnew, KR/PR, DET
6.4% Derek Watt, ST, LAC
6.4% Steven Sims, KR/PR, WAS
4.0% Brandon Wilson, KR, CIN
2.4% Mason Crosby, K, GB
1.6% Chris Boswell, K, PIT
1.6% Tyler Matakevich, ST, PIT
1.6% Younghoe Koo, K, ATL

Harrison Butker runs away with this one after leading the NFL in field goals and total points. The Chiefs were the only team in the top five in our special teams ratings in both placekicking and kickoffs, and Butker was responsible for kicking to Kansas City's opponents after scores. Nyheim Hines only returned nine punts this year, but two of them went for touchdowns … and, in defense of Pro Bowl voters, they both came in Week 16 against Carolina after Pro Bowl rosters had already been announced. Jamal Agnew scored touchdowns on a kickoff return against Philadelphia in Week 3 and on a punt return against Denver in Week 16.

Who is your choice for player most likely to breakout in 2020? (Last Year's Winner: Josh Rosen, QB, ARI)

18.8% Kyler Murray, QB, ARI
7.1% DK Metcalf, WR, SEA
3.6% Marquise Brown, WR, BAL
3.0% Deebo Samuel, WR, SF
3.0% Drew Lock, QB, DEN
3.0% Sam Darnold, QB, NYJ
2.5% A.J. Brown, WR, TEN
2.5% Mecole Hardman, WR, KC
2.5% Miles Sanders, RB, PHI
2.0% Baker Mayfield, QB, CLE
2.0% Courtland Sutton, WR, DEN
2.0% Diontae Johnson, WR, PIT
2.0% Dwayne Haskins, QB, WAS
2.0% Josh Allen, QB, BUF
2.0% Terry McLaurin, WR, WAS

For the second year in a row, this goes to an Arizona Cardinals quarterback going into his second season. Let's all hope things go better for Kyler Murray than they did for Josh Rosen. DK Metcalf broke a rookie playoff record with 160 yards in Seattle's wild-card win over Philadelphia, and he was the first rookie in a decade to top 200 receiving yards in the postseason. Speaking of rookie wideouts, Baltimore's Marquise Brown was inconsistent in his first season, with seven games under 25 yards receiving. However, he showed potential with 147 yards against Miami in Week 1 and 126 in the loss to Tennessee in the playoffs.

Who is your choice for player most likely to significantly decline in 2020? (Last Year's Winner: Tom Brady, QB, NE)

21.1% Tom Brady, QB, NE
16.1% Ryan Tannehill, QB, TEN
13.8% Drew Brees, QB, NO
10.6% Lamar Jackson, QB, BAL
8.3% Derrick Henry, RB, TEN
5.5% Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB
2.3% Ben Roethlisberger, QB, PIT
2.3% Matt Ryan, QB, ATL
1.8% Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, SF
1.4% Michael Thomas, WR, NO
1.4% Philip Rivers, QB, LAC
1.4% Richard Sherman, CB, SF

Tom Brady will be 43 years old the next time he throws a pass in an NFL game. The record for passing touchdowns at that age is 22 -- by all players, in all seasons, ever. The single-season record by a geezer QB is six, by a 43-year-old George Blanda with the Oakland Raiders in 1970. So yes, decline for Brady seems likely. Our readers are also confident that Ryan Tannehill's Cinderella season was a fluke, and that he will return to his familiar pumpkin state in 2020. Aaron Rodgers hasn't been a top-flight quarterback for several years now, and he may be older than you realize -- he spent his first three seasons as a backup behind Brett Favre, didn't start until he was 25, and turns 37 in December.

Which of the following teams is most likely next season's surprise Super Bowl contender? (Last Year's Winner: Cleveland Browns)

16.9% Arizona Cardinals
14.2% Atlanta Falcons
14.2% Tampa Bay Buccaneers
12.5% Denver Broncos
10.2% Cleveland Browns
8.4% Las Vegas Raiders
6.7% Carolina Panthers
4.9% Los Angeles Chargers
3.8% Detroit Lions
2.3% Miami Dolphins
1.7% New York Jets
1.7% Washington Redskins
1.2% Jacksonville Jaguars
0.6% Cincinnati Bengals
0.6% New York Giants

The Arizona Cardinals eke out a win here in a very wide-open election. If they do make the playoffs in 2020, they'll have to beat some stiff competition to do it -- they share a division with this year's NFC champs, last year's NFC champs, and a Seahawks team that has won at least nine games every season since 2012. The Atlanta Falcons should have an easier path back to the postseason, as the Panthers are on the verge of a total overhaul, the Bucs remain enigmatic, and the Saints may need a new quarterback if Drew Brees retires. Of course, that could also open a door for Tampa Bay, who would be a playoff team right now if they could get Good Jameis Winston instead of Bad Jameis Winston every week.

Which playoff team is most likely to miss the postseason in 2020? (Last Year's Winner: Dallas Cowboys)

27.3% Buffalo Bills
20.5% Tennessee Titans
11.6% Philadelphia Eagles
11.1% Houston Texans
10.5% New England Patriots
9.1% Green Bay Packers
4.5% Minnesota Vikings
3.4% Seattle Seahawks
0.9% New Orleans Saints
0.6% Baltimore Ravens
0.6% San Francisco 49ers
0.0% Kansas City Chiefs

The Buffalo Bills had the league's third-easiest schedule by DVOA. They had exactly one win over a playoff team: a 14-7 victory over Tennessee when Marcus Mariota was still starting for the Titans. Their 2020 opponents include the Patriots (twice) and the Super Bowl champion Chiefs, as well as the NFC West, perhaps the deepest division in football. This should all be cause for concern along the shores of Lake Erie. The AFC's other wild-card team, Tennessee, would not have made the postseason without a career year from Ryan Tannehill -- and, as we already discussed, voters don't expect Tannehill to play that well twice in a row. The Philadelphia Eagles qualified for the playoffs by winning the league's worst division; it's doubtful that their NFC East rivals will be so bad for two years in a row (OK, maybe Washington).

Which of these turnaround units is most likely to keep its improvement and fight off regression to the mean in 2020? (Listed with DVOA in 2018 and 2019) (Last Year's Winner: Indianapolis offense)

33.1% Baltimore offense (15/1)
18.2% San Francisco defense (23/2)
17.6% San Francisco offense (27/2)
11.8% Dallas offense (24/2)
6.9% New England defense (16/1)
6.9% Oakland offense (25/9)
3.5% Tennessee offense (22/6)
2.0% Tampa Bay defense (32/5)

Well, it seems everyone is expecting the best teams in 2019 to be the best teams in 2020. The Ravens will still have Lamar Jackson and the 49ers will still have Kyle Shanahan (not to mention a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo), so there's certainly cause for optimism for those offenses. The 49ers could be set on defense too, with only two starters (Arik Armstead and Jimmie Ward) entering unrestricted free agency.

Which ad wins the "Get Your Story Straight" Award for best commercial or ad campaign during NFL games this season? (Last Year's Winner: Geico, "Stefon Diggs' hands")

33.9% Head & Shoulders, "Mahomes vs. Polamalu"
18.5% AT&T, Gordon Ramsey ("Use the cocktail stick!")
12.9% Madden NFL 20, "Superstar KO" (player loses Alvin Kamara to his best friend)
11.2% WWE Smackdown, "We're all superstars"
8.4% KFC, "Rudy 2: He's Colonel Sanders now"
8.0% Samsung Galaxy, "Chewbacca Dog"
7.0% Progressive, "Progressive on Ice"

Patrick Mahomes had the best commercial of 2019, and will probably be in a lot more commercials in 2020. His Head & Shoulders spot with Troy Polamalu was simple and straightforward with two popular, likable stars. Gordon Ramsey's "cocktail stick" was easily the most quotable ad of the year … though we also had one reader mention it as the season's worst commercial, so you can't please everyone. Alvin Kamara sadly leaving his couch to go play for somebody else's Madden team was a tearjerker, though it mostly aired early in the season and may have been forgotten by the time voting rolled around.

Which ad wins the "John Mellencamp Must Die" Award for worst commercial or ad campaign during NFL games this season? (Last Year's Winner: Bud Light, "Bud Knight/Dilly Dilly" campaign)

34.5% State Farm, Aaron Rodgers/Patrick Mahomes nightmare game
17.3% NFL.com, "Free phone football"
16.9% NFL Shop, "The Champ is Here"
9.9% Geico, "Jerome Bettis flag football"
7.7% H&R Block, "Money in minutes"
7.7% NFL Network, Thursday Night Rivalry series
6.1% Microsoft Surface, "Mackenzie Book"

Patrick Mahomes had the worst commercial of 2019, and will probably be in a lot more commercials in 2020. His State Farm promos had all the trademarks of a bad commercial: painfully unfunny comedy, nauseating repetition, and little reason to actually purchase the product being sold. Why should I buy insurance just because Aaron Rodgers hates his agent? Why hasn't Rodgers fired his agent after several years of this terrible campaign?

What was your favorite touchdown celebration of 2019? (Last Year's Winner: Michael Thomas doing the Joe Horn cell phone routine, NO)

42.2% IND, Quenton Nelson kegstand
32.7% SEA, boy band choreography
10.5% SF, Marquise Goodwin long jump
9.8% DAL, Zeke Elliott doing "The Dak Dance"
4.9% NYJ, Ryan Griffin's sticky hands

Football fans like beer. Offensive linemen like beer. Football fans like watching offensive linemen pretend to drink beer.

Thanks to everyone for voting in this year's awards, and thanks for reading Football Outsiders during another season.


30 comments, Last at 14 Feb 2020, 3:16pm

#1 by theslothook // Feb 10, 2020 - 2:33pm

I'm shocked people are picking Arizona as the surprise super bowl contender. I mean I liked a lot of what they did this year but the division they play in is going to be absolutely brutal. For all the beatings the Rams took this year, they still had nine wins in a very hard division. San Francisco will regress some but they're still very talented and I'm very bullish on the Seahawks for next year.

Points: 0

#2 by MC2 // Feb 10, 2020 - 4:41pm

I agree.  I guess people are picking them because they have a young QB who had a solid rookie season.  But I'm skeptical.  Look at Mayfield.  He had a better rookie year than Murray, and then was a huge disappointment in 2019.  Given the difficulty of Arizona's schedule, the same sort of sophomore slump could be in store for Murray in 2020.

Points: 0

#8 by RickD // Feb 11, 2020 - 11:56am

The Cards play in the toughest division in the NFL.  They'll have to work really hard just to finish 3rd.

Part of the problem here is the big divide between the Haves and Have-Nots.  Most of the teams that are real competitors for next year's Super Bowl are already in the higher tiers.  So the poll question that required us to pick from the lower tiers forced us to pick a long shot.

I may have just skipped that question.  

Points: 0

#11 by serutan // Feb 11, 2020 - 12:10pm

Not only is there good reason to be skeptical on those grounds, but I am also still skeptical of the coach and especially the GM.

Points: 0

#3 by MC2 // Feb 10, 2020 - 4:43pm

Put me down as another one who hated the Gordon Ramsay "cocktail stick" ad, though it still wasn't as bad as the incredibly annoying "free phone football" ad.

Points: 0

#7 by Mountain Time … // Feb 11, 2020 - 11:55am

The phone football ad was infurating. I don't know why it gets so under my skin, but I despise it and I can't mute the TV fast enough. 

Points: 0

#4 by Theo // Feb 10, 2020 - 9:13pm

"Offensive linemen like beer"

How about Eric Fisher doing the Stone Cold Steve Austin beer celebration?


This is one of the most hilarious and spontaneous celebrations I've seen in a long time.

Points: 0

#9 by Mountain Time … // Feb 11, 2020 - 12:00pm

My favorite celebration was done by a couple of Washington players a few years ago to zero fanfare. After an interception, one player was the "police" and the intercepting player was the "suspect", who got a pat-down search. When the police found the ball (the "contraband"), he "arrested" the player, who was unhappy to go down.

I wish I could find video, but I doubt it's even on youtube.

Points: 0

#12 by Aaron Schatz // Feb 11, 2020 - 12:11pm

Sorry about not including the Eric Fisher doing Steve Austin on the nominees list. It was hard to find celebrations this year searching the Web. I also put out a call for nominees on Twitter and nobody mentioned that one. But overall it wasn't really a creative year for celebrations at the same level 2018 was. So many teams just did the "let's all act like we're posing for a team photo" celebration.

Points: 0

#16 by Theo // Feb 12, 2020 - 12:30am

In reply to by Aaron Schatz

No worries mate.

I thought it was special because it was hilarious, yet not choreographed and I can only imagine how the rest of the game went.

"what's that smell?"

"TD celebration"


" I poured 2 beers on me with that TD over there"

"You poured 2 beers on you?"

"yeah, splashed it over me"


"like Steve Austin"

"wow.... damnit, what's the snap count?"

Points: 0

#5 by NYChem // Feb 11, 2020 - 9:00am

everyone PLEASE call your State Farm Congressman and ask them these two questions: 'Why should I buy insurance just because Aaron Rodgers hates his agent? Why hasn't Rodgers fired his agent after several years of this terrible campaign?'

Points: 0

#10 by serutan // Feb 11, 2020 - 12:08pm

I've got a better idea - if you don't have State Farm, don't get it.  If you do have State Farm, switch.

Hit 'em where it hurts - in the wallet.

Points: 0

#15 by Theo // Feb 12, 2020 - 12:24am

If you had to make an anti-campaign (like the phone companies do), you'd pretty much make the same commercial.

Points: 0

#13 by Pat // Feb 11, 2020 - 6:46pm

I think the idea that the Eagles will miss the playoffs because the NFC East was bad last year is a little wacko. Philly was decimated by injuries (almost literally, at receiver) and *still* outcoached all the other divisional teams combined. Now all 3 opponents have changed head coaches. If anything I think it's *more* likely they win the division again next year simply because it's going to take a few years for the new head coaches to get the players they want.

Points: 0

#14 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Feb 11, 2020 - 10:34pm

I agree.  As much as I like Ron Rivera, I'm not sure he's going to turn WAS around in one year.  NYG will likely be a bit better, too, but neither of these teams look likely to challenge PHI or DAL.

Of those two, PHI suffered through a ton of injuries and still won the division in 2019.  DAL's DVOA says they should have won more games in 2019 than they did.  So in theory both should be better next year, partially offset by their two weaker sisters being less weak next year.  Leaving it a horse race between PHI and DAL, and a chance that both of them make the playoffs.

Both TEN and HOU look far more likely to miss the playoffs to me, as the AFC South carousel continues to spin.


Points: 0

#17 by Mr Shush // Feb 12, 2020 - 7:43am

Is it really a carousel if the Texans have won it four years out of the last five and six of the last nine? Only the Patriots have more division titles in the 2010s (the Packers also have six).

Points: 0

#27 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Feb 13, 2020 - 8:06pm

My bad.  Somehow my impression was that the AFC South leadership had been changing more often.  I didn't realize the Texans had been on top that frequently, recently.

Points: 0

#18 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 12, 2020 - 8:10am

Unless Ron plans to assassinate Dan Snyder (one can hope), he'll never turn WAS around. Better coaches have tried and failed.

Points: 0

#19 by theslothook // Feb 12, 2020 - 10:45am

subjectively it feels like Dallas has the more playoff ready roster and it was entirely coaching that was holding them back.

We'll see how realistic that assumption is, although I'm not sure what to think of Mike McCarthy as a head coach.

Points: 0

#20 by serutan // Feb 12, 2020 - 11:44am

  I know McCarthy supposedly spent this last season studying the game, and adjusting his coaching philosophy accordingly, but I am going to be a skeptic until.

a)  He actually demonstrates it with his game planning/playcalling.


b)  Actually sticks with it as opposed to dropping it like a hot potato at the first rough patch.

Points: 0

#23 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 13, 2020 - 9:49am

We didn't see Philadelphia's roster in the skill positions or secondary after week 3.

Points: 0

#21 by Chuckc // Feb 12, 2020 - 12:22pm

I couldn't decide between Free Phone Football, The Champ is Here and Thursday Rivalries for which commercials were the worst. Suffice to say, I think the NFL really needs to find someone new to create their ads. They're all terrible

Points: 0

#22 by Lebo // Feb 13, 2020 - 8:48am

I'm really surprised that:
1. Chandler Jones didn't get enough votes to at least get mentioned
2. Eric Bienemy didn't get enough votes to at least get mentioned

Points: 0

#24 by Mountain Time … // Feb 13, 2020 - 11:14am

I was most surprised that Kyler Murray didn't win OROY!

Points: 0

#25 by Exystence // Feb 13, 2020 - 11:25am

Sam Darnold got 3.0% of the breakout player vote, despite the fact that Adam Gase is still his head coach. That's some seriously wishful thinking there, and I say that as a Jets fan.

Points: 0

#26 by Steve in WI // Feb 13, 2020 - 2:06pm

I'm surprised to see Trubisky as the clear winner of the onfield category of the KCW award. I think people outside of Chicago overestimate how bad he was and underestimate how big of a problem playcalling and personnel were on the Bears offense.

Don't get me wrong - I think Trubisky's ceiling is at best 15th-20th best in the league, and he's unquestionably a draft bust. But I think the failures of his head coach and GM contributed to why he was one of the worst QBs in the league in 2019, and I think if you replaced him with a hypothetical 15th-20th best QB in the league in that same offense, they would have struggled almost as much.

Points: 0

#28 by Dan // Feb 14, 2020 - 3:15am

I agree that Trubisky did not have the kind of on-field play that I want to see from a top KCW contender. He was a kinda lousy quarterback, but if we're handing out awards I don't want kinda lousy, I want it to be glorious.

Glorious like Kalen Ballage, who touched the ball 24 times against the Colts and didn't pick up a single first down. And that was an above average game for him, by YPC. He led the Dolphins in carries on the season and finished 5th in rushing yards.

None of them could come close to Antonio Brown's season, though, so of course the poll was a runaway. Which is why it's a good thing that Trubisky doesn't receive an official Second Team KCW designation based on the voting.

Points: 0

#29 by BJR // Feb 14, 2020 - 10:45am

Yeah it wasn't a vintage year for fans of lousy QBing. Haskins was the only QB with significant playing time you could say was truly awful, but that was a hopeless situation as a rookie on a terrible, terrible team. Kyle Allen, Mason Rudolph and Daniel Jones sucked, but it isn't fair to give the award to backups or rookies unless they are outstandingly bad. I would have preferred Joe Flacco, who, similar to Trubisky, was only garden variety bad, but who's team traded for him (and his contract) before the season.

Points: 0

#30 by Dan // Feb 14, 2020 - 3:16pm

Mariota was pretty impressive, for the contrast of how bad the TEN offense looked with him vs. how good it looked with Ryan Tannehill. But the QB switch also means that he didn't wind up hurting his team that much, which hurts his KCW case.

I guess it's similar with Josh Rosen, although in that case Fitzpatrick's competence winds up being worse for the franchise than Rosen's awfulness.

Points: 0

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