Joe Burrow And More Players Making Late NFL Award Surges

Alex KayContributor IDecember 7, 2022

Joe Burrow And More Players Making Late NFL Award Surges

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    CINCINNATI, OHIO - DECEMBER 04: Joe Burrow #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs off the field after the Kansas City Chiefs at Paycor Stadium on December 04, 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    The 2022 NFL regular season has only five weeks remaining, but none of the prestigious award races can be called yet.

    Several players have entered the awards mixes by making late-season pushes. Whether they fell out of contention earlier in the year or weren't even mentioned in the discussion at all until recently, they could shake up the status quo if they continue surging.

    With that in mind, we've highlighted some players who have improved their chances for each major NFL honor in recent weeks.

    Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Christian Watson, WR, Green Bay Packers

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    CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - DECEMBER 04: Christian Watson #9 of the Green Bay Packers runs for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears during the fourth quarter at Soldier Field on December 04, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    Offensive Rookie of the Year Odds: +225

    Few would have expected Green Bay Packers wide receiver Christian Watson to have a chance of winning Offensive Rookie of the Year after his NFL career got off to a sluggish start. He wasn’t even in the discussion for the first nine weeks of the season, a span in which he caught only 10 of his 14 targets for 88 yards and found the end zone only once on a rushing play.

    Watson seemingly put his inconsistent play and injury woes behind him after a breakout performance against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 10. The 23-year-old led Green Bay to a much-needed win behind a massive four-catch, 107-yard, three-touchdown outing.

    The North Dakota State product has kept his foot on the gas in the three games since, tallying 11 catches on 18 targets for 206 yards and four touchdowns. He has scored at least once in each matchup.

    Although the No. 34 overall pick still has a long way to go before he can replicate what former Packers No. 1 wideout Davante Adams brought to the table, he’s quickly becoming a force as his chemistry with back-to-back MVP Aaron Rodgers grows.

    Despite a lean year for competition, Watson still isn’t the favorite to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III (+200) is the current front-runner, but he went down Sunday with an ankle injury that could sideline him for a bit.

    If Walker misses time and Watson keeps piling up catches and scores, the Packers wideout should have little issue holding off the likes of New Orleans Saints wideout Chris Olave (+450) and New York Jets receiver Garrett Wilson (+300) to take home the hardware.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Detroit Lions

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 20: Aidan Hutchinson #97 of the Detroit Lions warms up prior to a game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on November 20, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)
    Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

    Defensive Rookie of the Year Odds: +800

    Detroit Lions edge-rusher Aidan Hutchinson was one of the top candidates to win the Defensive Player of the Year award going into the 2022 season, but he came out of the gates relatively slow and fell out of contention.

    While the No. 2 overall pick exploded for five tackles and three sacks against the Washington Commanders in Week 2, those were the only sacks he recorded over his first five games.

    Despite his inconsistent contributions early, Hutchinson has steadily improved and has put together a rather impressive resume. He not only leads the Lions with six sacks, but he also has two interceptions—putting him behind only safety Kerby Joseph for the most picks on the team—in addition to 33 tackles, four tackles for loss, 11 quarterback hits and a fumble recovery.

    While Hutchinson is facing an uphill battle in a quest to overtake New York Jets cornerback Ahmad Gardner (-500) as the Defensive Rookie of the Year, he could make a late push if he can take over a few more games the way he did against Washington earlier in the year.

    Hutchinson’s case would get even stronger if he helps this up-and-coming Detroit defense do enough to secure an improbable postseason berth after the squad got off to a 1-6 start.

Offensive Player of the Year: Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders

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    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 04: Josh Jacobs #28 of the Las Vegas Raiders runs with the ball in the second quarter of a game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Allegiant Stadium on December 04, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)
    Chris Unger/Getty Images

    Offensive Player of the Year Odds: +1800

    The Las Vegas Raiders were written off as a legitimate playoff threat after their abysmal 2-7 start to the 2022 campaign. They have since won three consecutive games—including two in overtime—to draw closer to .500 and give themselves a chance to make the postseason.

    One of the driving forces behind Vegas’ success is running back Josh Jacobs, who has quietly emerged as one of the league’s most reliable ball-carriers.

    Jacobs leads the league in rushing yards by a good margin heading into Week 14. The 24-year-old has accrued 1,303 rushing yards—184 more than the next-closest player (Cleveland Browns tailback Nick Chubb)—on 242 totes and scored 10 touchdowns on the ground. He's one of only four running backs with at least 10 rushing touchdowns this season.

    The Raiders have leaned heavily on Jacobs to move the chains. He’s racked up a whopping 72 first downs—19 more than Jamaal Williams, the back with the second-most right now—while getting more involved in the passing game, too. The Alabama product is on par for his best season ever as a receiver after securing 42 of his 50 targets for 331 yards.

    While the Offensive Player of the Year Award seemed likely to go to a receiver—Tyreek Hill of the Miami Dolphins (+180) is still the favorite, and Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings (+350) has a strong case as well—Jacobs could become the second back since 2018 to take home the hardware if his Raiders keep winning and he keeps producing at this level.

Defensive Player of the Year: Nick Bosa, Edge, San Francisco 49ers

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    San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) against the Miami Dolphins during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)
    AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn

    Defensive Player of the Year Odds: +250

    Despite their mounting injuries at quarterback, the San Francisco 49ers are in firm control of the NFC West. A key reason for that is the outstanding play of edge-rusher Nick Bosa, who has raised the ceiling of San Francisco's defense in recent weeks.

    Bosa was instrumental in the Niners’ dismantling of the Miami Dolphins this past week, helping hold the league’s eighth-ranked scoring offense to only 17 points by notching a season-high three sacks. The 25-year-old also chipped in four quarterback hits, three tackles—including two for a loss—and a forced fumble in the contest.

    With that trio of sacks Bosa, jumped up to first on the season-long sacks list. Bosa’s 14.5 sacks in 11 games puts him clear ahead of second-place Matthew Judon, who has 13 on the year but has played one additional contest.

    Bosa is now the obvious No. 2 in the Defensive Player of the Year race, but he still has plenty of ground to make up on Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (-450), the odds-on favorite for the award.

    Parsons has been a menace for the Dallas Cowboys defense—amassing 12 sacks, three forced fumbles and one touchdown thus far this year—but hasn’t been as consistent in recent weeks. He’s failed to record any sacks in three of the last five games, while Bosa has tallied sacks in every game he’s played but one.

    If Parsons doesn’t pick things up and Bosa can stay healthy and continue racking up quarterback takedowns for the next five weeks, the 49ers star could wind up finishing ahead of his Dallas counterpart in this race.

NFL MVP: Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) warms up before an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Cincinnati, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
    AP Photo/Jeff Dean

    NFL MVP Odds: +600

    The Cincinnati Bengals appeared to be in danger of suffering a Super Bowl hangover following their defeat to the Los Angeles Rams to end the 2021 campaign. The championship runner-ups started the year with back-to-back losses and were sitting at 4-4 with their playoff hopes in jeopardy one month ago.

    That has changed over the last four games, largely thanks to Joe Burrow’s ascension to one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks.

    The 25-year-old has looked near-unstoppable while guiding Cincinnati to six wins in its last seven games, completing 72.3 percent of his passes for 2,130 yards and 16 touchdowns against three interceptions over that stretch. He’s also rushed 36 times for 139 yards and four scores.

    Burrow has secured victories over quality opponents as well. He’s taken out the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs in back-to-back weeks, two foes the Bengals faced in last year’s postseason and could see again come January.

    While Burrow still has to usurp Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (+125) to claim this award, he’s now outdueled the MVP front-runner three times in the last calendar year.

    Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (+175) is also in the MVP discussion, but Burrow could overtake him as well with more statement wins and strong play down the stretch.