Preseason Underdogs Lead NFL Postseason Awards
Thursday night in Las Vegas, the NFL Honors took place, and it was a good night to be a betting underdog.
Only one of the players who had the shortest odds back when the season began in September won postseason hardware, and the biggest favorite of them all went home empty-handed.
Most Valuable Player -Lamar Jackson
We’ve known for some time that Lamar Jackson was the likely MVP winner, and he achieved that by a near-unanimous vote. The quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens received 49 of the 50 first-place votes, with Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen preventing a clean sweep. When Jackson won his first MVP in 2019, he was a unanimous winner.
When the season began, NFL online sportsbooks had Jackson at +1200 to win the award, trailing Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, and Jalen Hurts.
In early odds for the next year’s NFL MVP, Jackson is once again paying +1200, and now trials Mahomes, Allen, Burrow, and C.J. Stroud.
Offensive Player of the Year – Christian McCaffrey
Three of the previous four winners of Offensive Player of the Year were wide receivers, and when this season began, two wide receivers and former college teammates – Ja’Marr Chase of the Cincinnati Bengals and Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings, both LSU men – were the two betting favorites. Jefferson won the award a year ago.
The third betting favorite, according to BetUS.com, was San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey at +1500. If you were prescient enough to put money down on CMC, congratulations. He won the award Thursday night with 39 first-place votes, easily beating the second-place finisher, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who had seven votes.
McCaffrey has an even bigger night coming up on Sunday, and Bovada.lv has him at +450 to win Super Bowl MVP.
Defensive Player of the Year – Myles Garrett
With the exception of New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the Defensive Player of the Year Award has gone to a pass rusher in eight of the previous nine years. Make that nine of 10 years, with Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett winning the award for this season.
Garrett had 14 sacks for the Browns’ top-ranked defense, and he received 23 first place votes. T.J. Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers led the NFL with 19 sacks this season, and he received 19 votes for DPOY. The preseason betting favorite, Micah Parsons of the Dallas Cowboys, got seven votes.
Offensive Rookie of the Year – C.J. Stroud
Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud wasn’t the preseason favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. But from Week 1 going forward, he played like the obvious choice. Stroud was just the third player in NFL history to lead the league in passing yards per game and touchdown/interception ratio. He also set the single-game record for a rookie with 470 yards passing.
Stroud led the Texans to the AFC South title, a playoff win in the Wild Card round, and he received 48 of 50 first place votes. Stroud paid +700 in the preseason, trialing Atlanta Falcons running back Bijan Robinson and Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Puka Nacua finished second in voting.
Defensive Rookie of the Year – Will Anderson Jr.
Completing the rookie sweep for the Texans was defensive end Will Anderson Jr. Houston selected the Offensive Rookie of the Year with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and Anderson with the No. 3 overall pick.
Anderson had 7.0 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, and was selected to the Pro Bowl. He received 16 first-place votes, edging out two interior defensive lineman, Jalen Carter of the Philadelphia Eagles and Rams third-round pick Kobie Turner, who each got 14 votes.
Comeback Player of the Year – Joe Flacco
Nevada online sportsbooks were certain that this year’s Comeback Player of the Year would be Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills. Hamlin was at -320 when the season began, followed by Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa at +800.
The voting on Thursday virtually forgot about the season for Tua – he finished a distant fifth – and even though Hamlin got the most first-place votes, he lost the award to Browns quarterback Joe Flacco.
There is a new system in place that awards five points for a first place vote, three points for second place, and one point for third place. On the strength of 23 second-place votes, Flacco won with 151 points to 140 for Hamlin.
Coach of the Year – Kevin Stefanski
Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski added to the big night for Cleveland by winning his second Coach of the Year Award. He edged out Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans by one vote. Ohio online sportsbooks were paying +2250 on Stefanski when the season began.
Browns defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz won Assistant Coach of the Year.