2023 NFL Honors on Thursday at 9pm ET on NBC/Peacock and NFL Network. Award winners from 2022 NFL season to be revealed, incl. MVP, Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year, and Comeback Player of the Year. New voting system by Associated Press using top-5 picks for MVP, top-3 for other awards by 50 NFL journalists.
Below, we will attempt to predict the award winners for seven of the biggest awards at NFL Honors. Let’s start with the “most valuable” of them all: MVP.
Most Valuable Player: Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes favored to win 2nd MVP, ahead of Super Bowl showdown. He topped all QBs with 41 passing touchdowns and boasted a 125.1 passer rating on targets to RBs/TEs. Despite losing Tyreek Hill, he set career highs with 5,250 passing yards and 67.1% completion rate, averaging 308.8 yards per game. With 10 playoff wins at only 27, he holds the best playoff rating (106.1) and is on track to join the Pro Football Hall of Fame with multiple MVPs. Mahomes solidifies his status as the NFL’s top QB and deserves MVP recognition for his exceptional 2022 season.
Coach of the Year: 49ers’ Kyle Shanahan
Losing a starting QB usually spells doom for an NFL team, but the 49ers defied the odds with rookie Brock Purdy. The Iowa State grad went 5-0 as a starter, passing for 1,374 yards, 13 TDs, and just 4 INTs, guiding SF to another NFC Championship game. Credit to Purdy, but the real MVP is coach Kyle Shanahan, whose offensive scheme and player utilization allowed the 49ers to thrive with a third-string QB. With the NFL’s top defense led by DPOY candidate Nick Bosa, Shanahan deserves Coach of the Year honors.
Comeback Player of the Year: Seahawks QB Geno Smith
Comeback Player of the Year contenders include Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, but QB Alex Smith looks strong. Recent history favors QBs, with the last 4 winners being signal-callers. Smith, 32, had a career-best season in 2022 as Seattle’s starter, leading the league in completion rate (69.8%) with 4,282 yards, 30 TDs, and 11 INTs. His performance earned a Pro Bowl bid and a likely contract extension. He may just bring home the Comeback Player of the Year award.
Offensive Player of the Year: Vikings WR Justin Jefferson
Jefferson is probably the best wide receiver in the NFL. His goal entering 2022 was to prove this, and he was successful in doing so. The former LSU star is the only non-quarterback who was named a finalist for MVP. While he’s a long shot to win that award, he may secure Offensive Player of the Year.
This season, Jefferson led the NFL in catches (128), receiving yards (1,809) and was tied for 11th in receiving touchdowns (8). Those yards are the sixth-most recorded by a receiver in a single season. Jefferson set franchise records in receptions and receiving yards, and was named to his third straight Pro Bowl in addition to an All-Pro selection. The 4,825 receiving yards Jefferson has recorded in his career are the most receiving yards recorded in a player’s first three seasons in NFL history. Not only that, but he has the most receiving yards since entering the NFL in 2020!
Defensive Player of the Year: 49ers DE Nick Bosa
Bosa has been an absolute beast. After recording 15.5 sacks in 2021, he led the NFL with 18.5 quarterback takedowns this past season. In four total seasons, the former No. 2 overall pick has won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, been named an All-Pro, earned three Pro Bowl bids and now should win Defensive Player of the Year. Bosa ranked first in QB hits this past season with 48, and tied for second in tackles for loss with 19. He’s a handful to contain on the line, and further proved this past season that he’s a legitimate playmaker.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Jets WR Garrett Wilson
Wilson led all rookies in receptions (83), receiving yards (1,103) and was tied for third in touchdown receptions with four. What really stood out about Wilson was that the rookie was able to pull all this off with inconsistency under center. Wilson had three 100-yard receiving games in 2022. All three came with different quarterbacks. If Wilson does in fact win Offensive Rookie of the Year, he would become the first Jet to do so.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Jets CB Sauce Gardner
Sauce came into the league beaming with confidence. He said he felt as though he was the “chosen one,” and that there was “no way” he could be a bust. Gardner was correct in assessing himself, as he racked up 75 combined tackles, two interceptions and a league-leading 20 passes defended. Sauce picked up All-Pro honors, making him the first rookie cornerback ever to do so.
If Gardner wins Defensive Rookie of the Year, the Jets would move past the Chiefs and 49ers for most Defensive Rookie of the Year winners all time. The last Jet to win was Sheldon Richardson in 2013.