NFL award rankings: Updated look at race for MVP, rookie honors, more
The NFL's elite players and coaches are beginning to solidify their respective cases for the league's top individual awards 12 weeks into the 2022 season.
Here's a current look at the five best candidates for each major honor:
Coach of the Year
5. Brian Daboll, Giants
Daboll's case for Coach of the Year lost momentum as New York dropped three of its last four games. Plus, coaches like Andy Reid and Pete Carroll, among others, bolstered their resumes in that span. That said, it's still hard to find a coach who's done a better job at helping his players correct their weaknesses and find ways to highlight their strengths. Daboll's helped the Giants go 7-4 in his first year at the helm after they won just four games in 2021.
4. Mike McDaniel, Dolphins
Here's another first-year coach who's done a tremendous job. It didn't take long for McDaniel to turn the Dolphins into an offensive juggernaut, and Miami currently ranks third in expected points added (EPA) per play, only behind Kansas City and Buffalo. McDaniel's outfit is 8-3 - good for first place in the AFC East - with all of its losses coming in games in which quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was hurt. The Dolphins' schedule is about to get a lot harder, but they've already beaten the Ravens and Bills in 2022.
3. Mike Vrabel, Titans
Weren't the Titans supposed to decline? Last year, they were 8-4 after 12 weeks. In 2022, Tennessee is 7-4 and has a comfortable lead in the AFC South despite playing multiple games without its starting quarterback, left tackle, and edge rusher, among other key players along the way. Granted, the team hasn't really dominated its opponents and only has a plus-four point differential. But Vrabel's adjustments have been crucial in helping the Titans remain one of football's toughest teams.
2. Mike McCarthy, Cowboys
McCarthy has received a lot of hate throughout the years, but we all have to agree on one thing: He's done an excellent job in 2022 and deserves a ton of credit for what Dallas, one of the league's most balanced teams, has achieved. McCarthy's outfit has responded really well to adversity. The Cowboys have already won eight games despite dealing with significant injuries to their offensive line and quarterback, and their plus-92 point differential ranks first in the NFC.
1. Nick Sirianni, Eagles
In Sirianni's second year at the helm, Philly has the best record in the NFL at 10-1. It's true that the Eagles looked more vulnerable over the last couple of weeks compared to the season's first two months, but they are still the best team in the league. The Eagles are clicking on both sides of the ball; they're one of the 10 best teams in both points scored and allowed, and their plus-13 turnover differential easily leads the league.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
5. Devin Lloyd, Jaguars
Lloyd turned heads in his first weeks in the NFL and was named Rookie of the Month in September. However, it's hard to rank him any higher given his latest performances - the first-round linebacker has struggled and even lost his starting role in the middle of Jacksonville's defense. He's racked up 74 tackles, seven pass breakups, and two interceptions.
4. Jaquan Brisker, Bears
Using a second-round pick on Brisker is starting to look like a steal for Chicago. Granted, the first-year safety has missed some relatively easy tackles. But he's been a cornerstone of the Bears' defense, doing a little bit of everything. The Penn State product, who missed Week 12 due to a concussion, has recorded 73 tackles, three sacks, and one interception to go along with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
3. Aidan Hutchinson, Lions
Hutchinson's 5.5 sacks and 16 pressures lead all rookies, but that shouldn't surprise anyone. We knew how special of a pass-rusher he was coming out of Michigan. What's been keeping the No. 2 pick in the race for DROY lately is his ability to always be around the ball. Over the last four games, Hutchinson has intercepted two passes and recovered one fumble while helping the Lions steal three wins.
2. Tariq Woolen, Seahawks
Many around the NFL knew the potential for Woolen to become one of the biggest steals of this year's draft. He's a 6-foot-4, 205-pound corner who ran a 4.26 40-yard dash. But few people thought the fifth-round corner would adapt to the pros and exceed expectations this fast. The UTSA product, who's the best rookie of what's turning out to be an excellent 2022 draft class for Seattle, has notched nine pass breakups and five interceptions, the most among first-year players.
1. Ahmad Gardner, Jets
Potentially winning Defensive Rookie of the Year doesn't do justice to Gardner, who should also be named a first-team All-Pro at the end of the season. The Cincinnati product continues to make one special play after another when opposing quarterbacks throw the ball his way. He leads the league with 14 pass breakups while allowing a 57.4 passer rating in the 59 times he's been targeted.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
5. Garrett Wilson, Jets
Wilson ranks second among rookies with 49 catches, 628 receiving yards, and four touchdown receptions despite having Zach Wilson at quarterback for most of the season. With New York turning to Mike White at QB, the rookie wideout could become the first Jet to catch 1,000-plus yards in a season since Brandon Marshall in 2015.
4. Christian Watson, Packers
It took Watson a while to make a big impact, but he suddenly looks unstoppable. The second-round receiver, who only had a rushing touchdown in the first nine weeks, has caught six TDs in his last three games. He ranks third in the NFL with 7.8 yards after the catch per reception, and his top speed of 20.97 mph during his 63-yard score in Week 12 was the fastest max speed by a Packers ball carrier on a touchdown all season.
3. Chris Olave, Saints
Olave's case for OROY would be stronger if it weren't for the Saints' struggles at quarterback. Despite missing one game this season, Olave leads his draft class in targets (92), catches (56), and receiving yards (822). The first-round pass-catcher, who's PFF's highest-graded offensive rookie, has also scored three touchdowns, including a 53-yarder in Week 11.
2. Dameon Pierce, Texans
What Pierce has done is very impressive. Despite playing in a subpar offense that ranks 25th in run blocking, according to PFF, the fourth-rounder tops all rookies in several categories, including scrimmage yards (931), rushing yards (788), and first downs on the ground (47). However, Pierce's latest performances hurt his resume here, as he collected only 33 scrimmage yards with no touchdowns over his last two games.
1. Kenneth Walker, Seahawks
No other rookie has had a bigger impact. Walker's amassed 729 yards, and his nine touchdowns are easily the most among first-year players. The second-round running back's also been extremely clutch, averaging 6.2 yards per carry and scoring six TDs in the fourth quarter. That includes a 74-yarder in Week 7, during which Walker became the only ball carrier to top a max speed of 22 mph on a scoring play in 2022.
Defensive Player of the Year
5. Matt Judon, Patriots
The biggest reason the Patriots have won three of their last four games is the defense, and Judon is their best defender. Though New England's front four often benefits from the team's stout pass coverage in the secondary, the 30-year-old deserves a lot of credit for ranking first and second in the league in sacks (13) and pressures (34), respectively.
4. Chris Jones, Chiefs
Jones has been football's most disruptive interior lineman, and his game-changing plays have been key for Kansas City's defense to remain good enough while the offense takes care of business. Jones, who's PFF's second-best defender in 2022, leads all defensive tackles with 28 pressures and 10 sacks while ranking second in pass rush win rate at his position.
3. Myles Garrett, Browns
The fact that the Browns are 4-7 shouldn't take anything away from Garrett's spectacular campaign. In fact, he's one of the main reasons Cleveland even has four wins. The 26-year-old continues to make jaw-dropping plays week after week. PFF's top-graded defender this season, Garrett ranks first among edge defenders in pass rush win rate and has amassed 10 sacks, 25 pressures, and two forced fumbles.
2. Nick Bosa, 49ers
Bosa makes everything look easier and is on track to earn the first All-Pro nod of his career. There are basically no flaws in his game right now. The 25-year-old's one of only three defenders to rank in the top five in sacks, pressures, QB hits, and tackles for loss in 2022. Oh, and he's also PFF's top edge rusher against the run.
1. Micah Parsons, Cowboys
You weren't expecting anyone else here, were you? As a pass-rusher, Parson's numbers are pretty similar to Bosa's. What gives the Cowboys star a clear advantage here is the number of game-changing plays he's made. The 23-year-old's forced three fumbles and even scored a touchdown on a fumble return. Parsons is fourth among edge defenders in pass rush win rate and has created at least three pressures in all but one game.
Most Valuable Player
5. Joe Burrow, Bengals
Burrow earned this spot after helping the Bengals beat the Titans in Week 12 despite the absences of star receiver Ja'Marr Chase and running back Joe Mixon. And Cincy's O-line is also far from great this year. Burrow has completed 68.2% of his passes while ranking third in the league in passing yards (3,160) and second in touchdowns (tied with 23). He's also added four rushing scores, leading Cincinnati to a 7-4 record.
4. Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins
Tagovailoa is a very efficient passer quarterbacking one of the NFL's most dominant offenses. The Dolphins are 8-3, and all of their losses were in games in which Tagovailoa either didn't play or wasn't able to finish due to injury. The third-year signal-caller, who leads all QBs in passer rating and EPA per play, has passed for 19 touchdowns against just three interceptions through nine appearances this campaign.
3. Josh Allen, Bills
Allen's MVP case took a hit in November. After putting on a show in the first weeks of the season, the star passer struggled, passing for four touchdowns against five interceptions over the last four games. He's now tossed an NFL-high 11 INTs. The Bills are still one of the league's best teams - and Allen is a major reason why - but he'll need to put his game back on the right track in the final stretch of the campaign to make a run at this award.
2. Jalen Hurts, Eagles
The MVP race is taking shape and, at least for now, there's a big gap between the top two candidates and the rest. Hurts has improved as a passer, and his ability to make plays with his legs has made him one of football's most dangerous quarterbacks. He's accounted for 25 touchdowns (eight on the ground) and tossed only three interceptions while helping Philly post the best record in the league.
1. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
As impressive as other star players have been, the MVP right now belongs to Mahomes, who's the best player in football's most important position and having one of the greatest seasons of his career. The former league MVP leads the NFL with 3,585 yards and 29 touchdowns. Plus, Kansas City boasts the AFC's best record at 9-2 and the league's most efficient offense despite losing Tyreek Hill in the offseason.
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