With the NFL season getting underway on September 8, now seems like an appropriate time to make NFL award predictions for 2022. Granted, early NFL award predictions are never easy, but we still wanted to take a crack at guessing the NFL award winners this season.
NFL Award Predictions for 2022
Obviously, more times than not, NFL award picks at the start of the season don’t pan out in the end, which is the nature of the game.
But since it’s fun to think about and a good way to preview the season, we wanted to share our NFL award predictions for 2022.
Offensive Player of the Year: Justin Jefferson
Obviously, a quarterback is going to win MVP honors. But a non-quarterback has been named the AP Offensive Player of the Year in four of the last five years, which makes this award wide open.
Of course, that also makes this one of the toughest NFL honors predictions for 2022. Granted, running backs Todd Gurley and Derrick Henry have both won this award in the last five years, but everybody knows that this league is all about wide receivers.
The question is what receiver will take home the award. Cooper Kupp is understandably the favorite after his incredible 2021 campaign, although replicating that production will be tough. The likes of Ja’Marr Chase, Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, and others also warrant consideration.
However, Justin Jefferson is going to be our pick for Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2022. He hit the ground running as a rookie and was even better last year. That could mean his third season is the charm as far as making it clear that he’s the best wide receiver in the NFL. Jefferson clearly has good chemistry with Kirk Cousins in addition to being immensely talented.
While he’ll have to share targets with Adam Thielen, the presence of Thielen will make it harder for teams to give Jefferson too much attention, opening the door for him to have another monster season and perhaps make a run at the Triple Crown for receivers.
Defensive Player of the Year: Nick Bosa
Ordinarily, you can’t go wrong with picking Aaron Donald. Since he’s won this award three times in the last five years, going with Donald seems like one of the easiest NFL award predictions in 2022.
But our favorite for this award is the younger Bosa brother. Since Nick Bosa only played two games in 2020 because of a torn ACL, he only has two years of experience under his belt. But he returned from that injury last season and racked up 15.5 sacks while leading the NFL with 21 tackles for a loss.
Keep in mind that Bosa was coming off a serious injury when he did that. He’ll be 24 years old and will be nearly two years removed from the injury when the NFL season begins. In other words, the 2022 season figures to be the best we’ve ever seen Bosa, making it more than feasible for him to be the best defensive player in the league.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Aidan Hutchinson
Any award involving rookies can be tough to predict. That’s particularly true on the defensive side of the ball. While pass rushers typically have an inherent edge with defensive awards, that doesn’t always hold true.
After all, linebacker Shaquille Leonard won the award in 2018 while cornerback Marcus Peters won it in 2015. Plus, until the season gets underway, it’s hard to project which rookies will be ready to play at the next level and which might need another year or two.
However, we’ll put our faith in Aidan Hutchinson, who was the second-overall pick in this year’s draft. Even if he doesn’t have the best upside of the pass rushers in the 2022 class, Hutchinson has a high floor. He also looks the part of someone who’s physically ready to play in the NFL trenches.
By all accounts, the Michigan product also has the motor and work ethic that you want to see in a rookie, which bodes well for Detroit getting early returns on their top draft selection. To be fair, the top five picks in this year’s draft were all defensive players, so competition could be stiff. But Hutchinson seems like the safest pick for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Garrett Wilson
Among our NFL award predictions for 2022, this one was lacking obvious candidates since the quarterback class looks like a dud and the first offensive player who wasn’t a lineman wasn’t selected until the 8th overall pick.
Of course, we ended up with six wide receivers being picked between no. 8 and no. 18, so the race for Offensive Rookie of the Year could become a cluttered mess.
That being said, we’re going to back Garrett Wilson as the top rookie in 2022 on the offensive side of the ball. While the Jets also have Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, and Denzel Mims in the mix, the opportunity is there for Wilson to establish himself as the team’s no. 1 receiver.
Neither Davis nor Moore played a full season in 2021, so neither had enough of a chance to develop chemistry with young quarterback Zach Wilson. If Wilson and Wilson hit it off right away, the rookie receiver could put up big numbers. On top of that, it’s a safe bet that the Jets will be throwing the ball a lot, and since Wilson is the type of receiver to make things happen after the catch, he will have endless opportunities to showcase abilities during his rookie campaign.
Comeback Player of the Year: Christian McCaffrey
This figures to be one of the toughest NFL award predictions in 2022. There are plenty of good candidates for Comeback Player of the Year.
On the defensive side of the ball, Chase Young is the frontrunner while the offensive side of the ball has the likes of Derrick Henry and Michael Thomas. On the quarterback front, Deshaun Watson is hard to ignore while optimists will think about Daniel Jones, Mitch Trubisky, or Baker Mayfield.
However, Christian McCaffrey is our pick for this.
He played in just seven games in 2021 and three games the previous year, so it’s been two full seasons since McCaffrey’s magical 2019 campaign when he had over 1,300 rushing yards and over 1,000 receiving yards.
But McCaffrey is just 26 years old, so even for a running back, he’s far from being past his prime. If he can just stay healthy, there’s no reason why McCaffrey can’t come close to doing what he did in 2019, which should make him tough to beat for Comeback Player of the Year.
Coach of the Year: Nathaniel Hackett
Coach of the Year is one of the more convoluted awards that’s given out. It’s rarely given out to the most proven and established coaches in the league, even if they are usually the best coaches.
Instead, it goes to coaches who exceed expectations or lead their team to a significant improvement from the year before. Case in point, Bill Belichick has only won it three times with the last time coming in 2010. Meanwhile, three of the last five winners were in their first year as head coaches.
That’s the route we’re taking with our NFL honors predictions for 2022.
Nathaniel Hackett is one of 10 coaches in their first season with their respective team and one of five with no previous experience as a head coach. Of those 10 coaches, Hackett is undoubtedly in the best position, as the Broncos haven’t been to the playoffs in six straight seasons since their win in Super Bowl 50.
However, with Denver trading for Russell Wilson, the Broncos are poised to end that streak, especially with a promising supporting cast around Wilson. If Hackett can take the Broncos anywhere close to the top of the AFC hierarchy, he’ll have the inside track for Coach of the Year honors.
MVP: Josh Allen
Without question, one of the toughest NFL awards picks to make this year will be the MVP race.
With Aaron Rodgers winning the last two MVP awards, it’d be foolish to write off the possibility of him winning three in a row, even at his age.
At the same time, it’s hard not to consider Patrick Mahomes as the best player in the league right now. One also has to consider Lamar Jackson as a legitimate threat to win MVP if he can put his injury-plagued 2021 season behind him and stay healthy this year.
However, our NFL award predictions for 2022 will conclude with Josh Allen winning MVP.
He’s been building up to this for the last few years and this could finally be the year that Allen gets over the hump and delivers an MVP performance. This is the point in his career where the first-round pick from 2018 is at his peak in terms of physical skills but also has the experience to reach another level. With Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis, and Dawson Knox back in Buffalo and the Bills adding Jamison Crowder and O.J. Howard, Allen will also have the skill players around him to post the numbers and put together the kind of season that will win him MVP honors.