2023 NFL award predictions

February 07
10:51 2023

This NFL season has been an interesting one. There were surprises from teams that many didn’t think much of, while some teams did not reach their full potential. The same could be said for many of the players, which leads to more intrigue about who will win the end-of-the-year awards.

I enjoy trying to predict who will win certain awards because half of the time I disagree with who eventually wins. I am not saying that the award winners of the past are not deserving, I just think sometimes the most deserving player doesn’t always win. So, here are my predictions for this year’s NFL awards.

Most Valuable Player: Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver

Typically, this award goes to a quarterback and I understand why. This season, Jefferson is the only non-quarterback to be on the list of finalists. Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow and Jalen Hurts are the other finalists for the awards. All of the quarterbacks had phenomenal seasons, but I feel Jefferson stood out more because his position is dependent on someone else and he put up fantastic numbers.

Let’s remember, Jefferson’s quarterback is Kirk Cousins and he is their main receiving weapon. Teams tailored their defensive schemes to try and stop Jefferson and he was still able to catch 128 passes for 1,809 yards and 8 touchdowns. For Jefferson to continue putting up big numbers week in and week out with Cousins throwing him the ball makes me rank him higher on my list.  

With the way the game is played nowadays, it’s going to be very easy for a quarterback to put up great numbers each season. The last non-quarterback to win MVP was Adrian Peterson back in 2012. I doubt that Jefferson will win the award over the other candidates, but he is definitely deserving of the honor.

Offensive Player of the Year: Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback

Mahomes, Jefferson and Tyreek Hill are the other finalists for the offensive player of the year award, and all are worthy. The reason I went with Hurts is because I don’t think many people outside of Philly saw this type of season from Hurts. 

While Mahomes led the league with 5,250 yards passing with 41 touchdowns, Hurts wasn’t too shabby himself, throwing for 3,701 yards and running for 760 more, with a total of 35 touchdowns. He also went 14-1 in the games he started this season and the team lost the other two games he sat out due to injury. If he played those games, his numbers would be even more impressive.

Hurts has had plenty of doubters, dating back to his days in college at Alabama and then Oklahoma. He has done nothing but continue to improve every year and has turned the Eagles into a team that will be a force for years to come.

Defensive Player of the Year: Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle

This was one of, if not the toughest, choices I had to make among all of the awards. The three candidates all have a serious case for being the winner. Nick Bosa, Chris Jones and Micah Parsons are three of the best defensive players in the league right now. After serious consideration, I had to go with Jones as my choice of defensive player of the year.

The main reason I went with Jones over Bosa and Parsons was the fact that both Bosa and Parsons have other great defenders in the front seven of their respective teams that warrant serious attention, whereas Jones does not. Frank Clark is a former Pro Bowl player, but this was not one of his best years.

Jones racked up 15.5 sacks this season as a defensive tackle. Those are numbers usually reserved for edge rushers like Parsons and Bosa. Bosa bested Jones with 18.5 sacks, while Parsons had 13.5 sacks. I just feel what Jones was able to accomplish as an interior lineman weighing over 300 pounds should be celebrated.

Comeback Player of the Year: Saquon Barkley, New York Giants running back

There is no particular criteria for the Comeback Player of the Year award and that made my choice a little harder to make. Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey and Geno Smith are the finalists for the award. I went back and forth for a while between Barkley and Smith, but eventually I decided on Geno Smith as my winner.

The difference-maker for me between Smith and Barkley was that I knew Barkley was going to have every opportunity to regain the form he showed in his first two seasons in the league before knee and ankle injuries derailed his 2020 and 2021 seasons. When it comes to Smith, to be honest I never thought he would have this opportunity to start for an entire season once again.

Smith surprised nearly everyone by completing nearly 70% of his passes, while throwing for 4,282 yards and 30 touchdowns. He led the Seahawks to the playoffs, along with garnering his first Pro Bowl selection along the way. At age 32, I didn’t think he had that in him and for that he is my choice for the award.

Coach of the Year: Brian Daboll, New York Giants head coach

This award was a head scratcher, honestly. While I think Daboll, Doug Peterson and Kyle Shanahan have done tremendous jobs, how is Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni not a finalist for this award? In any case, out of the remaining choices, I have to go with Daboll because he turned the Giants into a playoff team when I thought they would finish at the bottom of the division.

He took a New York team that had question marks at several key positions and made them respectable. Outside of the organization and the fanbase, I am not sure anyone would have guessed the Giants would have had the season they just did. In just his first year, Daboll seems to have really changed the culture in New York and made quarterback Daniel Jones look like he can possibly be a franchise quarterback in the NFL.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Garrett Wilson, New York Jets wide receiver

While Brock Purdy has had a nice run with the San Francisco 49ers and Kenneth Walker had a breakout season with the Seattle Seahawks, I don’t think anyone can argue with Wilson as the choice here. He had to deal with multiple quarterback changes throughout the season and still topped 1,000 yards receiving as a rookie.

To play devil’s advocate, I can see why people would choose Purdy due to his undefeated record as a starter. When it comes to Walker, he topped 1,000 yards rushing while only starting 11 games. Had he been the lead back for Seattle from the start, he might be the one taking home the trophy. Wilson has a bright future ahead of him if they can ever get the quarterback situation fixed in New York.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, New York Jets cornerback

Aidan Hutchinson has a great rookie season for the Detroit Lions. He put up some great numbers with 9.5 sacks and even had three interceptions as a defensive end. With all that being said, Gardner was head and shoulders the best defensive rookie. Gardner was the first rookie cornerback ever named to the AP All-Pro first team.  

Gardner only had two interceptions, but he routinely locked up the opposing team’s best wide receiver. Teams simply didn’t throw his way. Gardner has proven that he is next in line to be one of the greats at the position.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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