Ben Lepper ‘25
MVP: Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Two of the oldest starting quarterbacks in the NFL were in a dogfight for the coveted MVP award most of the season, and while I understand arguments for Aaron Rodgers, I think Brady has this one locked up. At 44 years old, Brady had his best season ever, leading the NFL in passing yards (with 5316) and passing touchdowns (43) en route to the Bucs’ first division title since 2007. However, one more thing makes me think he’ll win MVP: his retirement from the NFL. The voters will more than likely see that as a sign to make him the MVP one last time as he rides off into the sunset.
Coach of the Year: Bill Belicheck, New England Patriots
I understand that Zac Taylor is another favorite, but I’m only giving one award out per team, and there’s a Bengal with a stronger case for another award. Following a painful 7-9 season, Bill Belicheck brought the Patriots back to the promised land with a 10-7 record. They did get destroyed in the first round of the playoffs, but making it there with a rookie QB in Mac Jones was impressive enough. I cannot stress enough that this team should not have been anywhere near the playoffs, and yet they were the #6 seed. Rebuilds don’t happen overnight, but Belicheck got close.
Comeback Player of the Year: Nick Bosa, DE, San Francisco 49ers
I’m aware of a man named Joe Burrow, but once again, another Bengal has an award all but locked up. Following a lost 2020 season due to an ACL tear, Bosa returned to peak form, playing in all 17 games and putting up 15.5 sacks. When Bosa is healthy, he’s a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks, and this season only proved that further.
Offensive Player of the Year: Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams
Kupp and Jonathan Taylor both have great cases for this award, but I think Kupp edges Taylor out. Kupp enjoyed one of the best statistical seasons ever by a wide receiver, winning the first receiving triple crown (leading the league in touchdowns, yards, and receptions) since Steve Smith did it in 2005, and missing out on Calvin Johnson’s single season yards record (1,964) by just fourteen yards. Anyone who drafted him in fantasy was gifted with incredible performances every week. He should be an easy choice for the voters.
Defensive Player of the Year: T.J. Watt, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Speaking of easy choices, T.J. Watt. After being snubbed in 2020 for the same award, he should be a lock for it this season. He tied Michael Strahan’s single season sack record with 22.5 and led the league in quarterback hits and tackles for loss. If Aaron Donald somehow wins this year, Watt will probably tackle whoever is announcing the award as it is announced. He deserves this one.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Ja’marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Here’s the aforementioned Bengal. Chase had numerous doubters in the preseason and he proved them all wrong with an incredible rookie season. He broke records left & right, including (but not limited to) Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson’s franchise record for yards in a single season and Torry Holt’s league record for postseason receiving yards set by a rookie. He’s been a major part of the Bengals’ unprecedented Super Bowl run and should be dangerous for years to come.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Micah Parsons, LB, Dallas Cowboys
Remember in the draft when the Broncos picked Patrick Surtain III? And then when the Cowboys traded down right after and settled for Parsons? So do the Cowboys, because I can assure you they couldn’t be happier with their rookie linebacker. Parsons put up 13 sacks (12 of those coming in his first 13 games) and 3 forced fumbles en route to a 1st Team All Pro selection & a Dick Butkus award. The Broncos selecting Surtain could have been the best thing for Dallas, as they settled for a star.