Photo Credit: JIM MONE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
By hook or by crook, 256 out of a possible 256 regular-season NFL games were played in the most unique NFL season to date. COVID-19 tried to halt games on many occasions, but the worst thing that happened was games being pushed back further in the week or in the season.
We are now on to the playoffs.
This season 14 teams qualified for the postseason, with the NFL adding a seventh team in each conference, with only the top seed getting the coveted first-round bye.
This post will highlight who I think will be taking home individual hardware this season and then at the end, I will give my Wild Card Weekend predictions.
Without further ado, here are my 2020 NFL award winners.
Most Valuable Player: Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers – If you were to ask me seven weeks ago where I had Aaron Rodgers in the MVP race, I would have said he was a distant third to Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson. Fast forward to now and it’s clear that Rodgers surpassed them. He led the Packers to a 13-3 record and the No. 1 seed in the NFC. He did so by passing for 4,299 yards, 48 touchdowns, five interceptions while completing 70.7 percent of his passes and a QBR of 84.4. His touchdowns, completion percentage, and QBR were all career-highs. Look for Rodgers to bring home his third MVP trophy.
Offensive Player of the Year: Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans – Henry became the eighth player and second Titan (Chris Johnson) to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. He is the first player since Adrian Peterson in 2012 to reach the 2,000-yard plateau. He rushed 378 times for 2,027 yards and a career-high 17 touchdowns. He had three games with over 200 yards, including the season finale against the Houston Texans (250 yards, two touchdowns) in a game the Titans needed to win in order to win the AFC South. Many backs weaken as the season continues, but not Henry.
Defensive Player of the Year: T.J. Watt – Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers boasted one of the more ferocious defenses this season and led the league in sacks. Watt carried the defense with a league-high 15 sacks in 15 games. He was a menace to opposing offenses. To go along with his sack total, he had one interception, two forced fumbles, seven passes defensed, 53 combined tackles, 23 tackles for losses, and 41 quarterback hits.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Justin Herbert – Los Angeles Chargers – In a season where he wasn’t supposed to start right away, Herbert got thrust into the starting role after a bizarre injury to then-starter Tyrod Taylor. Herbert took full advantage of his opportunity, setting the new rookie touchdown record with 31. He threw for 4,336 yards and 10 interceptions while keeping his team in a lot of games. The Chargers finished 7-9, and only one loss was decided by more than 10 points. Had the Chargers had better clock management in certain games, the record might be better. Herbert proved that he is going to give the league fits for years to come.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Chase Young – Washington Football Team – Young is already looking like an All-Pro defensive end in the NFL. Some scouts ranked him the best player coming out of college last season and he lived up to the hype and then some. He finished his rookie campaign with 7.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, a fumble recovered for a touchdown, 10 tackles for losses, and 12 quarterback hits. He was even named a captain for Washington, which isn’t common for non-quarterback rookies. He helped lead his team to the NFC East crown and proved he will be a problem for opposing divisional quarterbacks for a long, long time.
Coach of the Year: Kevin Stefanski – Cleveland Browns – In a season with no true offseason, a rookie head coach would be behind the proverbial eight ball. Stefanski never let that phase him and led the Browns to a historic, franchise-changing season. In his first stint as the Browns head coach and first-time head coach in the NFL, Stefanski led the Browns to an 11-5 record, the best record for Cleveland since returning to the NFL in 1999. He also led them to the playoffs for the first time in 18 years. The Browns faced a plethora of adversities throughout the season, yet Stefanski was always calm, cool, and collected and his team responded. The Browns did not lose back-to-back games all season.
Comeback Player of the Year: Alex Smith – Washington Football Team – This is a hands-down, no-brainer of a selection. When he took the field for the first time this season, the award was wrapped up. However, he got to play, when it was highly questionable if he would live, let alone play. Smith endured 17 surgeries for a broken fibula and tibia. His life was in jeopardy, he was in jeopardy of having his leg amputated, and yet here he is, in the playoffs nonetheless. His stats on the field do not matter whatsoever. The fact he was able to play and help lead his team to the playoffs is nothing short of miraculous. The NFL should name this award after him moving forward.
Wild Card Weekend Predictions
Bills 31- Colts 20
Seahawks 24 – Rams 10
Buccaneers 27 – Washington Football Team 13
Titans 30 – Ravens 28
Saints 30 – Bears 14
Browns 27 – Steelers 23
Be sure to follow me on Twitter @KingEdward15 and let me know who you have as NFL award winners and give me your Wild Card Weekend predictions.