Weingarten: Handicapping NFL awards going into Week 18

January 4, 2022 07:48 PM

Jason Weingarten handicaps the NFL Awards market going into Week 18. Will all of the favorites hold up or is there hope for somebody to come from off the pace and take some hardware during the final week of the regular season?

Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook


Aaron Rodgers -400

Tom Brady + 500

Joe Burrow + 1000

Jonathan Taylor + 1600

Cooper Kupp + 2000

Rodgers continues to separate himself from the rest of the contenders and nothing that Rodgers happens in Week 18 against the Lions should really factor in the awards voting. He led the NFL in touchdown percentage and interception percentage, while leading the Packers to the No. 1 seed in the NFC. 

I think you can still make a case for Cooper Kupp deserving the MVP while in the process of putting up one of the best receiving seasons in the history of the NFL, but I don’t think enough voters will be swayed from the Rodgers camp and I don’t blame them. 

Likely Winner: Rodgers (-400) 

Offensive Rookie of the Year

Ja’Marr Chase -250

Mac Jones + 190

Jones had his name penciled in the Offensive Rookie of the Year award and then Chase had over 250 receiving yards and three touchdowns in a 34-31 Bengals upset over the Chiefs, which vaulted the Bengals into the playoffs and crowned them AFC North Division champions. 

While all this was happening, Jones was leading the Patriots to their 10th win of the season in a 50-10 dismantling of the Jaguars. Jones is a good example of an “in any other year” candidate. For example, “Justin Jefferson would have won OROY in any other year, had Justin Herbert not thrown for 30+  touchdowns,” or “Vlad Guerrero Jr. would have won AL MVP in any other year, had Shohei Ohtani not existed.”

Jones is being “any other year’d” by Chase. In any other year, Mac Jones and his 10 wins would be locked in for Offensive Rookie of the Year. But Chase’s 16-game line of 79 receptions for 1,429 yards  and 13 touchdowns for a division champion is going to put his name on the OROY hardware.

Likely Winner: Chase (-250) 

Offensive Player of the Year

Jonathan Taylor -110

Cooper Kupp -110

Aaron Rodgers + 5000

Deebo Samuel + 5000

The most likely outcome of MVP/Offensive Player of the Year is that Rodgers wins MVP while Kupp is rewarded for his historic receiving season with the Offensive Player of the Year, which would leave out Taylor entirely.

In the unlikely event enough voters decide to snub Rodgers over his mid-season COVID comments, I think Kupp is most likely to win MVP over the other quarterbacks and that might bump Taylor up to Offensive Player of the Year. But, the most likely winner is still Kupp and I’d still bet -110 here. I bet Kupp to win Offensive Player of the Year -110 at DraftKings this week myself to cover my bet on Taylor to win Offensive Player of the Year at + 2000 that is now likely drawing dead.

Likely winner: Kupp (-110)

Defensive Player of the Year 

T.J. Watt -400

Micah Parsons + 450

Aaron Donald + 1000

Myles Garrett + 2500

Myles Garrett has drifted out to + 2500 after being a short favorite most of the season, while T.J. Watt has taken a commanding lead over the field after a four-sack performance against the Browns on Monday Night Football. 

Parsons is going to win Defensive Rookie of the Year and be a frontrunner in this market again next year, and Donald really should be lower than 10/1 right now, there’s no question that he’s still the No. 1 defensive player in the NFL, but T.J. Watt has 21.5 sacks while missing significant time with injuries and COVID. After barely missing out on the DPOY award last year, I think voters will give it to Watt this year.

Likely winner: Watt

Coach of the Year 

Zac Taylor + 150

Matt LaFleur + 175

Mike Vrabel + 350

Everyone else > 10/1

Vrabel deserves consideration for outlasting everyone in the AFC for the No. 1 seed without Derrick Henry for two-thirds of the season, all the while losing games to the Texans and Jets. 

LaFleur has won 13 games for three straight seasons to start his head coaching career in Green Bay and this year he’s had to do it while missing All-Pro LT David Bahktari, CB Jaire Alexander and LB Za’Darius Smith. But, LaFleur has Rodgers and this is Rodgers’s team. Much like Bruce Arians doesn’t win Coach of the Year for Tom Brady’s accomplishments, I don’t think LaFleur deserves Coach of the Year for Rodgers’s accomplishments this season.

Taylor took over a Bengals team that won 19 games in the three previous seasons before his arrival and went 2-14 his first year as head coach. This year, the Bengals swept division rivals Pittsburgh and Baltimore for the first time since 2009, before beating the defending AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs to win the AFC North title. 

There are good arguments that could be made for the top three contenders and I limited it to the top three because I could write a lot more about Bill Belichick, Nick Sirianni, Frank Reich and even Rich Bisaccia, but none of them are likely going to get serious consideration and Week 18 isn’t likely to change much at this point.  While I think LaFleur and Vrabel might get some first-place votes, I think Chase and Burrow’s late-season performance in the Bengals offense is going to be the last thing voters remember when they vote after Week 18, and that’s going to push Taylor over the line.

Likely winner: Taylor 

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