The NFL is at approximately the midpoint of the 2022 season, which is the perfect opportunity to take stock of some of the league’s top performers and forecast how the end-of-year awards may shake out.
In the AFC, quarterbacks Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes seemingly have the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs on a title game collision course. Meanwhile, the NFC East houses a dark horse to crash the MVP and Offensive Player of The year conversation, along with runaway favorites for a couple of other awards, as well.
Here’s a prediction for how the NFL awards may look by season’s end, based on the first nine weeks of the 2022 regular season.
MVP: Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
The engine that makes the Buffalo Bills’ offensive machine run, Josh Allen is in the midst of a career-season, that has BillsMafia believing this is finally the year the Lombardi Trophy arrives on the banks of Lake Erie.
Allen has completed 65.5% of his passes for 2,198 yards with 19 touchdowns to 6 interceptions, and his 8.3 yards per attempt ranks third among passers with qualifying attempts. The Bills aren’t the prohibitive frontrunners in an AFC gauntlet without Allen, and especially without him playing some of the most dominant football of his career.
Offensive Player of the Year: Jalen Hurts, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Jalen Hurts will ultimately receive MVP votes, and rightfully so.
Hurts’ maturity as a passer from the pocket, decisiveness on when to run, and evolution as the leader of a prolific Eagles offense has been instrumental to Philadelphia’s undefeated start to the season and status as the prohibitive favorite to advance to Super Bowl Sunday from the NFC. The former second-round pick has eased all concerns in a make-or-break season, emerged as the Eagles’ definitive franchise quarterback, and is having arguably the second most efficient and prolific season of any quarterback in 2022.
Defensive Player of the Year: Micah Parsons, EDGE, Dallas Cowboys
Micah Parsons might be the most disruptive defender in the NFL.
Parsons, one year removed from taking home Defensive Rookie of The Year honors, has become the most dominant player on the Cowboys’ defense, despite drawing double-teams and boat loads of attention from opposing offensive coordinators each week.
Pro Football Focus lists Parsons as the NFL’s No. 2 ranked EDGE defender, as the Cowboys star has already produced 8.0 total sacks — with plenty of opportunities for that number to be even higher, despite playing through pain at times — along with 36 total tackles, 2 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery returned for a touchdown. Parsons may run away with this award by season’s end.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Kenneth Walker III, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Kenneth Walker’s emergence as the Seahawks’ workhorse in the backfield has been one of the biggest storylines of the first half of this season.
Walker is averaging 5.4 yards per carry, while rushing for 461 yards and 5 touchdowns. The former Michigan State standout’s dominance, along with Geno Smith’s late-career renaissance has made the Seahawks a force in the NFC West race. His 5 rushing touchdowns are good for sixth in the NFL, and leads all rookies, underscoring the immediate impact he has made on the Seahawks’ offense.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Sauce Gardner, CB, New York Jets
Few defensive players from the 2022 NFL draft class have stepped in and made the kind of immediate impact that Sauce Gardner has on the Jets’ secondary, as a driving force behind New York’s sudden turnaround on defense.
Gardner, 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, has been every bit the prototypical NFL cornerback the Jets coveted in last spring’s draft. So far this season, opposing quarterbacks have a meager 51.2 passer rating when targeting Gardner, who has produced an 85.0 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, while logging 37 tackles with 1 interception. It isn’t a stretch to say Gardner could be a centerpiece of the Jets’ defense for years to come and is already among New York’s most dominant players.
NFL Executive of the Year: Howie Roseman, Philadelphia Eagles
Roseman should run away with this category, and there isn’t much competition. Especially based on the moves the Eagles’ general manager has orchestrated over the past nine months.
The Eagles are the NFL’s final unbeaten team, largely on the backs of key acquisitions such as Roseman’s draft night heist of A.J. Brown in a deal with the Tennessee Titans, trading for safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson in a deal with the New Orleans Saints, along with key free agent pickups such as Haason Reddick, Kyzir White, and deadline pickup Robert Quinn.
Perhaps what is most impressive about Roseman’s past 12 months is he has the Eagles in the NFC’s Super Bowl driver’s seat, while protecting the optionality that comes with a pair of first-round picks in the 2023 NFL draft.
In the wake of Jalen Hurts’ rapid ascension into the NFL MVP conversation, a masterfully built roster devoid of real holes, and the optionality to continue building around a franchise quarterback, Roseman just might have propped open the Eagles’ Super Bowl window for the foreseeable future.
NFL Coach of the Year: Brian Daboll, New York Giants
It’s nearly impossible to think of a more impressive first-year head coaching job than what Brian Daboll has orchestrated with the New York Giants.
Despite a turnstile along the offensive line amid myriad injuries, a wide receiving corps that rarely has featured NFL-caliber talent, and pedestrian play from quarterback Daniel Jones, the Giants are 602 and proving to be one of the tougher outs on the NFL schedule.
Daboll, offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, and defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale have rapidly established a hyper-competitive culture that has been buttressed by immediate success. Martindale’s attacking defense has made timely plays late in games to deliver wins, while Kafka’s offense has made a concerted effort to get Saquon Barkley involved in space and limited the offense to Jones’ strengths on play-action and rolling out.
With general manager Joe Schoen and Daboll at the helm, the future may never have been brighter for the New York Giants than it is today.