Before we watch the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams battle it out during Super Bowl LVI for the chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, we do have other hardware to hand out. On Thursday, the NFL Honors will air live on national television on ABC at 9 p.m. ET where we’ll find out who will win some of the game’s most prestigious awards, including MVP and Offensive Rookie of the Year.
While we wait for those festivities to get started, we took the liberty of trying to predict who will be taking those awards home. Below, you’ll find who we foresee winning the seven major awards at this year’s NFL Honors.
Most Valuable Player
Prediction: Aaron Rodgers
I previously made the case for Tom Brady to win this award, but the recently retired quarterback will likely come in a close second (outside of a final parting gift from the voters). Rodgers had a fantastic 2021 campaign where he led the league with a 111.9 passer rating and led the Packers to the No. 1 seed in the NFC. He put an exclamation point on winning this award for the second-straight season with his play down the stretch. Over his final seven games in the regular season, Rodgers completed 72% of his passes, averaged 275 yards passing per game, and threw 20 touchdowns with zero interceptions.
Offensive Player of the Year
Prediction: Cooper Kupp
This one is a no-brainer, but Colts running back Jonathan Taylor should get some shine as a runner-up. That said, there was no stopping Cooper Kupp this season as he earned the triple crown, leading the NFL in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. He has been a fantastic go-to weapon for Matthew Stafford and it’s no surprise that his strong play has transitioned splendidly into the playoffs. Through three postseason games, Kupp is averaging 128.7 receiving yards per game and has four receiving touchdowns. From the jump, Kupp has been the best receiver in the NFL this season.
Defensive Player of the Year
Prediction: T.J. Watt
Can’t really look too many other places considering the year that T.J. Watt just put together with the Steelers. The star pass rusher tied Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record, totaling 22.5 in 2021. Watt also led the league in tackles for a loss (21).
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Prediction: Ja’Marr Chase
It’s comical that we were all gearing up to call Chase a bust following a drop-filled preseason just a few months ago. Now, the Bengals receiver not only should be considered a shoo-in for OROY but he’s already looked at as one of the best wideouts in the NFL and a huge reason why Cincinnati is in the Super Bowl. He’s already broken the Bengals franchise record for receiving yards in a single season and has the most receiving yards in a single season (including playoffs) by a rookie. As I noted earlier this year, Patriots quarterback Mac Jones is a worthy candidate, but there’s really no comparing to what Chase did this year.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Prediction: Micah Parsons
There’s a case to be made that Cowboys rookie Micah Parsons should be the favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year, let alone just being atop his rookie class. In any event, Parsons proved to come to Dallas as advertised as a game-changing defensive presence and put together one of the greatest rookie seasons for a defender of all time. Thanks to his freakish athletic ability and combination of speed and strength, the Cowboys were able to line Parsons up all across the field. He finished his first season in the league with 84 tackles, 13 sacks, 20 tackles for a loss, and 30 quarterback hits. The 22-year-old already has a Pro Bowl appearance and first-team All-Pro nod under his belt and will likely get even more accolades by the end of Thursday night.
Comeback Player of the Year
Prediction: Joe Burrow
This one may be up for some debate as Dak Prescott did put together a solid season in Dallas after suffering that horrific ankle injury. That said, Joe Burrow, who suffered a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee in Week 11 of last season, has simply produced to a higher level. In just his second season in the NFL, the Bengals quarterback led the NFL in completion percentage and yards per attempt. Oh, and he also has Cincinnati playing in its first Super Bowl since 1988.
Coach of the Year
Prediction: Mike Vrabel
While you can probably make the case for a handful of coaches, I’m rolling with Mike Vrabel in Tennessee. The fourth-year Titans head coach enjoyed the best season of his young career as he was able to help lead his team to a No. 1 seed in the AFC after a 12-5 campaign in the regular season. Vrabel was able to keep the Titans afloat despite losing its MVP caliber running back Derrick Henry for the bulk of the year. The fact that Tennessee lost a player of Henry’s caliber and they were still able to earn the top seed in the conference is quite the feather in Vrabel’s cap.