With the NFL season being a few weeks past the halfway point of the season, talks of the awards and the candidates to win each one have ramped up. This season has been, to be quite frank, a bit disappointing in some ways. There are quite a few bad teams in the league, and the product has suffered because of it. There’s no clear-cut MVP as of now, but with the final weeks of the regular season approaching, a couple of guys have a chance to solidify their cases to win the award. Here are my predictions for each major NFL award.
Most Valuable Player: Jalen Hurts – Quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles
The MVP award has essentially become a quarterbacks-only award, as it’s been over a decade since a non-QB has won it (running back Adrian Peterson in 2012). For that reason, I’m going to go with Jalen Hurts. I think there’s a strong case to be made for Tyreek Hill, but given the fact that a wide receiver has never won the MVP award, I can’t predict he’ll win it.
Hurts has led this Eagles squad to the league-best 10-1 record they currently have. There have been multiple first halves of games where he hasn’t shown up and has actually been outplayed, but Hurts always finds ways to win, and the voters value winning. The lethal combination of his pass and run game paired with the most unstoppable play in the league, the Tush Push, have propelled Hurts to my current MVP favorite.
Keep an eye on: Patrick Mahomes (QB, Kansas City Chiefs), Dak Prescott (QB, Dallas Cowboys), Lamar Jackson (QB, Baltimore Ravens)
Offensive Player of the Year: Tyreek Hill – Wide Receiver, Miami Dolphins
If Hill has to be left out of the MVP conversation due to his position, he certainly deserves OPOY. He’s been by far the best receiver and biggest threat to secondaries across the league. He’s simply unguardable. Through 11 games, he’s racked up 1,324 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns, leading the league in both stats, which puts him on pace for over 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns. No wide receiver has EVER had more than 2,000 receiving yards in a single season. Hill also leads the NFL in 20+ yard receptions, 40+ yard receptions and yards after catch. Once he creates any sort of separation, it’s over. You’re not catching up to the Cheetah. He is the most intimidating weapon any team possesses in the entire league.
Keep an eye on: Christian McCaffrey (RB, San Francisco 49ers)
Defensive Player of the Year: Myles Garrett – Defensive End, Cleveland Browns
In a Cleveland defensive unit that ranks among the best in both passing and rushing defense, Myles Garrett is the clear standout. The Browns’ defense leads the league in expected points added (EPA) and leads by a considerable margin in dropback EPA/play allowed. Much of that is due to the presence of Myles Garrett. Garrett is nearly unblockable and attacks the edge with such ferocity and speed, completely disrupting the quarterback’s pocket presence.
His size and ability to shift his body around massive offensive tackles is ludicrous. Though I don’t watch much Browns football, whenever I see Garrett play, I find it terrifying that a man can move the way he can with his size and strength. Statistically speaking, Garrett is third in sacks, only trailing Danielle Hunter and T.J. Watt by half a sack. His value to the Browns defense can’t be overstated.
Keep an eye on: T.J. Watt (LB, Pittsburgh Steelers), Micah Parsons (LB, Dallas Cowboys)
Offensive Rookie of the Year: C.J. Stroud – Quarterback, Houston Texans
Week in and week out, Stroud decides to show the Carolina Panthers that they made the wrong decision with the No. 1 overall pick. Stroud has been nothing short of unbelievable this season, so much so that it’s become one of the dominant narratives of this NFL season. He’s even played himself into the MVP conversation. His odds may be slim, but to even get MVP recognition as a rookie speaks volumes to Stroud’s 2023 campaign.
What impresses me most about Stroud is the same thing that I was impressed by from him at Ohio State: his poise and decision-making. He makes his reads quickly and has great pocket awareness. Despite being sacked 11 times through two games, he’s only been sacked 26 times up to this point. He’s only improved throughout the season and has put up monster numbers. Stroud is second in passing yards, first in explosive plays (20+ yard plays) and has a passer rating of over 100. This award should be in his house already.
Keep an eye on: Nobody. Stroud’s winning OROY.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Jalen Carter – Defensive Tackle, Philadelphia Eagles
It’s no surprise that Carter was considered to be the No. 1 pick before his off-the-field issues pushed him down to No. 9. The Eagles pulled off the steal of the draft by getting Carter at that low of a pick. In his rookie season, Carter is already fourth among defensive tackles in pass rush win rate at 19% while being double-teamed at 58%. A win rate at that clip puts him above names like Chris Jones, Quinnen Williams and DeForest Buckner. Carter is shifty and gets off the line quickly, explaining his win rate percentage and amount of pressure from the interior line position. Philly is built from the trenches, and they may have just added a perennial All-Pro to an already-stacked defensive line.
Keep an eye on: Devon Witherspoon (CB, Seattle Seahawks).