The NFL Honors take place this Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on NBC and NFL Network, and that’s where we’ll find out all of the winners of the 2022 NFL season. More than a dozen awards will be presented, including MVP, Coach of the Year, Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year and Returning Player of the Year.
This year will be a little different, as a new voting system will be used by The Associated Press. According to NFL.com, a national panel of 50 sportswriters who cover the NFL ranked their top five picks for MVP and the top three picks for other awards.
Below, we’ll attempt to predict the winners of seven of the NFL Honors’ biggest prizes. Let’s start with the “most valuable” of all: MVP.
Mahomes will likely win his second MVP and could also win his second Super Bowl this weekend. He led all quarterbacks in touchdowns this season with 41, and had the highest passer rating when targeting running backs and tight ends (125.1). I guess losing Tyreek Hill didn’t hurt too much. In the regular season, Mahomes threw for a career-high 5,250 yards, while completing a career-high 67.1% of his passes. He averaged 308.8 passing yards in the regular season. No other quarterback has averaged more than 280.
While it doesn’t matter to his MVP case, Mahomes now has the most playoff wins before he turned 28 with 10, and also has the highest passer rating in playoff history. (106.1). He would become the 10th player to win multiple MVPs. Every player who has made it and retired has been in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Mahomes is the best quarterback in the NFL and should earn MVP for everything he’s accomplished this season.
Coach of the Year: Kyle Shanahan of the 49ers
When an NFL team loses its starting quarterback, it’s usually a death sentence for the season. Sure, the 49ers were lucky to have Jimmy Garoppolo as a backup, but he also fell through injury! Enter Brock Purdy, who was selected by the 49ers with the final pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Iowa State product went 5-0 for San Francisco down the stretch and completed 67.1% passing for 1,374 yards, 13 touchdowns and just four interceptions as the 49ers won the NFC Championship for the second straight year.
While Purdy deserves credit for his play, Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheme and the way he uses point guards is likely why the 49ers didn’t miss a beat on offense with a rookie quarterback from third string. Add to that the fact that San Francisco had the NFL’s No. 1 defense this season, led by likely Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa, and Shanahan should be named Coach of the Year.
There are a few big names in the running for Player of the Year comeback, such as Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffrey, but quarterbacking is the most important position in football, which should help Smith’s case. The last four winners of this award have all played quarterback.
The former substitute had a career year in 2022 after being promoted following the departure of Russell Wilson. Smith went 9-8 as a starter, completing a league-high 69.8% of his passes for 4,282 yards, 30 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while guiding Seattle to a surprising playoff berth. At 32, Smith earned his first career Pro Bowl bid and will likely earn a nice overtime this offseason.
Jefferson is probably the best wide receiver in the NFL. His goal entering 2022 was to prove it, and he succeeded in doing so. The former LSU star is the only non-quarterback to be named a finalist for MVP. Although he is far from winning this award, he could get the title of 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 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 is 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 strikeouts last season. In four total seasons, the former No. 2 overall pick has won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, been named All-Pro, earned three Pro Bowl offers and is now expected to win the defensive player of the year award. Bosa ranked first in QB hits last season with 48, and tied for second in tackles for loss with 19. He’s hard to contain and proved last season he’s a playmaker legit.
Wilson led all rookies in receptions (83), receiving yards (1,103) and was tied for third in touchdown receptions with four. What really stands out about Wilson is that the rookie pulled it all off with inconsistencies 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 entered the league beaming with confidence. He said he felt like he was the “the chosen“, and that there was “no way” he could be a bust. Gardner was right to rate himself, as he had a combined 75 tackles, two interceptions and a league-leading 20 assists defended. Sauce earned All-Pro honors, making him the first rookie cornerback to do so.
If Gardner wins Defensive Rookie of the Year, the Jets would pass the Chiefs and 49ers for most all-time Defensive Rookie of the Year winners. The last Jet to win was Sheldon Richardson in 2013.
If Wilson AND Gardner won Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year, they would become the third duo on the same team to win both. The last time this happened was in 2018 when Alvin Kamara and Marshon Lattimore of the New Orleans Saints accomplished the feat.