With the NFL season coming to an end, it’s time to reflect on the players who stood out amongst the others, looking to solidify themselves as legends at the upcoming NFL Honors Award. In this article, I, along with three other students, will be predicting the winners of each prestigious award before the ceremony takes place.
This season was jam-packed with MVP candidates. Typically, there will always be one player to be the standout favorite for the MVP, such as Patrick Mahomes in 2018, Cam Newton in 2015, and Ladanian Tomlinson in 2006. However, this year has really been a mystery, as there hasn’t been one player to take that stronghold on the lead. Currently, the top candidates would be Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, Buccaneers QB Tom Brady, Cardinals QB Kyler Murray, and Colts RB Jonathan Taylor.
My Prediction: I believe that Aaron Rodgers will win the MVP, going back to back and winning his third in his career. Rodgers threw for 4,117 yards and 37 touchdowns this season, while only throwing 4 interceptions. Although this season wasn’t as good as his 48 touchdown performance last year, he has just slightly edged out Tom Brady in the MVP rankings after a subpar showing against the Jets. In the NFC Divisional Game, Rodgers put together a mediocre performance against the 49ers. He only threw for 225 yards and 0 touchdowns, all with home-field advantage and in the snow. Rodgers lucked out, however, as Tom Brady and the Bucs lost to the Rams just one day later, as Brady’s subpar first half helped keep Aaron Rodgers in that 1st place position.
Student Prediction: Senior Dylan Henegar had a very unorthodox pick for MVP. He chose Bills QB, Josh Allen. The Bills QB had a fantastic season, although not as good as last year. Allen threw for 4,407 yards and 36 touchdowns this season, leading the Bills to a wildcard spot in the playoffs. The playoffs is where Allen shined the most, especially in the Divisional Round against the Chiefs. In the game of the year, Allen threw for
Offensive Player of the Year.
This award has been much more controversial than the MVP rankings. There are three players who come to mind when this award comes up, Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, Colts RB Jonathan Taylor, and 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel. All three players had breakout performances this year, with Kupp leading the league in receiving yards and touchdowns, Taylor being the far and away best running back in the NFL this year, and Deebo Samuel combining the two, receiving for nearly 1500 yards and rushing for an unheard of 300 yards.
My prediction: Cooper Kupp is my pick to win the award this year. Kupp received an unbelievable 1,947 yards this season, which is a Rams franchise record and ranks second in the single-season receiving record, falling 17 yards short of Calvin Johnson in 2012. Unlike Calvin Johnson, Kupp caught 16 touchdowns, which is 11 more than Megatron caught in his record-breaking campaign. Nonetheless, Kupp’s dominance on the gridiron will earn him the well-deserved OPOY award.
Student Prediction: Greg Olson had an answer that was completely out of left field. The MBHS Senior Class President believes there will be a dual winner. He believes that the race will be so tight, that two players will be forced to share the award. He says the award will be given to both Cooper Kupp and Jonothan Taylor. Each player had record-breaking seasons, and both deserve the award. He says that if the award is given to only one player, it would be Cooper Kupp.
Defensive Player of the Year:
Unlike the previous two awards, this pick is much more obvious. T.J Watt is by far the standout for the award. Although Watt will win the award, we cannot go past the other players who had standout seasons on the defensive side of the ball. Browns defensive end Myles Garrett was neck and neck with Watt earlier in the year, however, he failed to put up any sack production late in the year, allowing Watt to run away with it. Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs had a spectacular season, racking up 11 interceptions this year, which is something that hasn’t been done in decades. Although that does sound good, Diggs allowed the most yards in coverage this season, giving up roughly 1,100 yards. Another player that flew under the radar was 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa, who posted a career-high 15.5 sacks coming off of a torn ACL.
My Pick: T.J Watt will undoubtedly win the award this season. The Steelers outside linebacker had 22.5 sacks this season, tying Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record. Watt also added 65 total tackles and 5 forced fumbles this year. Many argued that Watt should have won the award last season, however, he was slightly beaten out by Aaron Donald of the Rams. This season, T.J Watt got his revenge.
Student Prediction: Senior Ryan Amesse believes TJ Watt is the obvious pick for the award. “The dude missed games and still tied the sack record” He also mentioned that he could see Aaron Donald coming away with the award, as “it’s a popularity contest” The last thing he mentioned would be the surprise it would be if Trevon Diggs won the award, as the number of yards he allowed was jaw-dropping, but not in a good way.
Comeback Player of the Year:
Comeback player of the year is an award given to a player who is coming back from missing most of the previous season. All three of the top candidates dealt with season-ending injuries last year, making them eligible for the award this year. As stated previously, Nick Bosa totaled 15.5 sacks this season, ranking 3rd in the NFL. He also had 21 tackles for loss, which ranked 1st in the NFL. This is all while coming off of a torn ACL and being the most double-teamed player in the league. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott had a great season, leading the Cowboys to the third seed in the NFC and throwing for 4,449 yards and 37 touchdowns. This is all coming off of an ugly compound right ankle fracture. Bengals QB Joe Burrow tore his ACL in his rookie season, yet came back to put together a spectacular season, leading the Bengals to the playoffs. Burrow threw for 4,611 touchdowns and 34 touchdowns this year.
My Pick: Joe Burrow is who I believe is the most deserving of the award. The Bengals were a team with low expectations coming into the offseason, however, Joe Burrow and rookie receiver Ja’marr Chase made the Bengals offense one of the most explosive in the league. Coming off of a torn ACL is hard, but coming off of a torn ACL as a rookie is almost impossible, but the former Heisman Trophy Winner did it with ease.
Student Prediction: Dylan Henegar came back with his odd answers, this time for Comeback Player of the Year. Previously, he believed Josh Allen would win MVP, and Joe Mixon would win Offensive Player of the Year. As for this award, he has Dak Prescott winning the award. Now, Dak is not a terrible pick, as he set franchise records for passing touchdowns and passing yards this year. What makes it weird is that Dylan is a devoted 49ers fan, so choosing the QB of their biggest rivals is definitely unexpected. Bias aside, Dak Prescott does have a good chance of winning the award, but after Joe Burrow led the Bengals to the Super Bowl, those chances are slim to none.
Coach of the Year:
Lastly, we have the most outstanding Coach of the Year. The candidates for this award include Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel, who led the Titans to the 1st seed in the AFC, all without having the monstrous Derrick Henry for over half the season. Green Bay Packers head coach Mike LeFleur led the Packers to the 1st seed in the NFC. The Packers turned around from having one of the worst defenses in the NFL in 2020 to one of the best in 2021, thanks in part to Make LeFleur’s offseason moves. Lastly, there is legendary coach Bill Belichick. Coach Bill is widely regarded as the greatest coach of all time. He led the New England Patriots to the playoffs while having a rookie quarterback, Mac Jones, under center. New England also had a top 5 defense this season, led by JC Jackson and Matthew Judon.
My Prediction: Mike Vrabel had the odds stacked against him this season. And he delivered beyond expectations. Losing Derrick Henry, who was leading the NFL in rushing before his injury, was absolutely heart-shattering for Tennessee. They also were without star wide receivers AJ Brown and Julio Jones for most of the year. Despite all of that, the Titans wreaked havoc across the NFL, taking the 1st seed in the AFC. Now with Derrick Henry coming back for the playoffs, the Titans may be a sleeper contender for the Super Bowl.
Student Prediction: Greg believes the coach of the year will be Bengals HC Zach Taylor. Taylor came into the Bengals relatively unknown, however, he turned the Bengals into contenders in a matter of three years. Taylor made some very smart choices over his time as head coach, such as drifting the LSU tandem of Joe Burrow and Ja’marr Chase, picking up defensive end Trey Hendrickson in free agency, and making good enough improvements to the offensive line. It will most likely come down to either Vrabel or Taylor for this award.