The NFL season is finally here, and after an offseason of thorough deliberations, here are the ultimate picks for every award for the end of this year.
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Offensive Rookie of the Year: Bijan Robinson (+300)
The expectations are through the roof for Bijan Robinson in his rookie campaign. After being selected seventh overall in this past draft, the Texas product will see a massive workload from the jump and is anticipated to be one of the best running backs in football. Looking at the Offensive Rookie of the Year race, Bijan will get the workload to win it. Head coach Arthur Smith previously coached Derrick Henry, so he’ll want to run the ball and has a solid offensive line in front of him. Desmond Ridder’s lack of experience makes a complementary running game much more important. Bijan loses this award only if Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, or Anthony Richardson put together a winning season. However, by all accounts, that isn’t happening. Play it safe, back Bijan.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Jalen Carter (+550)
I expect Jalen Carter to run away with this award with the Philadelphia Eagles. If you remove the off-the-field concerns with Carter, he could have been the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. He fell to the Eagles, and there might not be a better environment for Carter to mature and grow, given the number of veterans already on the Eagles’ defensive line, namely Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham. Reports out of the Eagles’ training camp have Carter being nothing short of a game-wrecker and is likely to stand out immediately on an already-loaded defensive line. Philly will have enough spotlight on them that if Carter begins to make a name for himself due to his play, you can hand him the trophy by Week 12.
Coach of the Year: Arthur Smith (+1400)
Returning to the Atlanta Falcons, head coach Arthur Smith is a great value play to take home the Coach of the Year honors, with the Falcons potentially setting up as a team to go from worst to first in their division. He has his work cut out, getting quarterback Desmond Ridder in a situation to flourish. Still, the aforementioned Bijan Robinson will make his life much easier, and the defense is no longer a liability after numerous free-agent additions. The NFC South is there for the taking, and if the Falcons can capture the division crown, as I predict, +1400 will be incredible value.
Comeback Player of the Year: Damar Hamlin (-350)
The story of Damar Hamlin will go down in history. After the tragedy that unfolded on the field in Week 17 in Cincinnati roughly nine months ago, Hamlin is expected to be a Week 1 contributor at safety for the Buffalo Bills. Hamlin beat the odds in life, and while his current betting odds to take home Comeback Player of the Year may be too juiced for us, no other man will win this award.
Offensive Player of the Year: Ja’Marr Chase (+1100)
Until 2019, it was rare for wide receivers to win the Offensive Player of the Year award. In this new age of NFL football, three of the last four OPOY trophies have gone to wide receivers, so we expect that to continue. Ja’Marr Chase of the Cincinnati Bengals is the favorite to take home the honors, and that’s completely justified. Chase only played in 12 games last season but still averaged nearly 90 yards per game, so he is the warranted front-runner, with voter fatigue lessening Justin Jefferson’s value. At +1100, back Chase.
Defensive Player of the Year: TJ Watt (+800)
TJ Watt doesn’t get enough discussion, not just as one of the best defensive players in the NFL, but as one of the best players regardless of position. This dude is a freaking monster. Two years ago, Watt had a ridiculous campaign where he recorded a stunning 22.5 sacks, and while he dealt with injuries last year, his lack of presence was felt. In ten games with Watt, the Pittsburgh Steelers went 8-2. Without him, they went 1-9. Looking ahead to 2023, assuming Watt plays an entire season and provides that same winning impact, the Steelers would make the postseason on the backs of a Watt-led defense, making him the favorite for the award by default.
NFL MVP: Justin Herbert (+900)
Part of me wants to put Jalen Hurts here as the MVP, and he still certainly deserves some bets on him at +1200, but this Los Angeles Chargers offense could be the best in football and stand out in a crowded AFC. Herbert gets Kellen Moore as his offensive coordinator, who is expected to significantly impact his development and stabilize the Chargers’ playcalling. Given that, along with the freakish group of weapons in Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and rookie Quentin Johnston, this Chargers offense is on its way. If the Chargers stand out over the likes of the Chiefs and Bengals, there is no way Herbert isn’t the MVP.
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