2022 NFL award races: Lamar Jackson for MVP? Micah Parsons for DPOY?

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Where the NFL award races stand after Week 4 originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The 2022 NFL season is officially four weeks in, meaning roughly a quarter of the regular season slate is complete. Where has the time gone?

With a month of football in the books, some contenders are beginning to separate from the pretenders. The Philadelphia Eagles look like the real deal at 4-0, while the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams have started slow out of the gate.

There's still a ton of football to be played. But it's not too early to look at the NFL's annual award races, either. NBC Sports Washington's Ethan Cadeaux, Matt Weyrich and Mike DePrisco make their predictions for each of the NFL's annual awards.

Without further ado...

2022 NFL season award predictions

All odds via Caesars Sportsbook

Most Valuable Player

Cadeaux: Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens (+550)

Notes: Lamar Jackson's revenge tour is off to an incredible start. Sure, the Ravens are 2-2, but it's hardly QB1's fault. Jackson is tied for the NFL lead with 11 passing touchdowns and has already rushed for 316 yards in four games this season. The Ravens' offense is a one-man show and it's No. 8. 

(Preseason pick: Tom Brady +850)

Weyrich: Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens (+550)

Notes: Sticking with my preseason pick of Lamar Jackson, who has gotten off to a brilliant start even after an uneven performance against the Bills in Week 4. The Ravens’ quarterback has accounted for 13 touchdowns so far, which is more than 27 other teams. That’s MVP-type stuff.

(Preseason pick: Lamar Jackson +1500)

DePrisco: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs (+500)

Notes: Mahomes has somehow exceeded expectations in 2022 after losing Tyreek Hill to Miami in the offseason. He's tied with Jackson for the league lead in touchdown passes with 11, and posts an NFL-best 82.3 QBR despite throwing to a brand new receiving core headlined by Juju Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Granted Travis Kelce is still in KC, but if Mahomes keeps up this production without Hill it'll be hard not to award him his second MVP trophy.    

(Preseason pick: Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers)

Offensive Player of the Year

Cadeaux: Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams (+600 on DraftKings)

Notes: Any thought of Cooper Kupp regressing after his historic 2021 season can be thrown out the window. Kupp is on pace for 170-plus receptions and over 1,700 yards, despite the Rams' offense looking sluggish overall. This award is his to lose if he continues on this epic pace.

(Preseason pick: Christian McCaffrey +2500)

Weyrich: Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams (+600)

Notes: The last time a player won back-to-back Offensive Player of the Year awards was Marshall Faulk, who did it three straight seasons from 1999-2001. Cooper Kupp, who is on pace to shatter Michael Thomas’s single-season catch record, might be next. As disappointing as the Rams’ offense has been through four weeks, Kupp has shown no signs of regression.

(Preseason pick: Travis Kelce +5000)

DePrisco: Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens (+600)

Notes: I have Mahomes as my MVP, so this makes Jackson the easy choice for Offensive Player of the Year. He's the backbone of Baltimore's offense and has amassed 13 touchdowns through four games. Jackson is a legitimate MVP candidate but if he doesn't win the big award, don't be surprised if he's a frontrunner for this one. 

(Preseason pick: Justin Jefferson +1200)

Defensive Player of the Year

Cadeaux: Nick Bosa, DE, San Francisco 49ers (+700)

Notes: With T.J. Watt, my preseason pick for this award, sidelined for at least a few more weeks, I am going to pivot here to Nick Bosa, who's been as dominant as any defensive player through the first four weeks of the season. Bosa currently leads the NFL in sacks with six, a number that is surely only going to climb. Micah Parsons (+180) is the overwhelming favorite for this award, but Bosa's campaign has been as good as any.

(Preseason pick: T.J. Watt +800)

Weyrich: Nick Bosa, DE, San Francisco 49ers (+700)

Notes: So far, so good on my Bosa pick. The 49ers’ star edge rusher has an NFL-leading six sacks and he ranks third with six tackles for a loss. Helping matters is the fact that San Francisco has allowed just 11.5 points per game, the fewest in the league. This pick felt like a lock from the start and it’s going to take a lot to change my mind.

(Preseason pick: Nick Bosa +1200)

DePrisco: Nick Bosa, DE, San Francisco 49ers (+700)

Notes: Micah Parsons might be the heavy favorite for this award but I'm not sure how considering Bosa's been an unstoppable force through the first four weeks of the season. Six sacks in four games? Bosa is putting up video game numbers on a team that lost its starting quarterback in Week 1 and will need to lean on its defense to make another Super Bowl run. Bosa at +700 feels like incredible value right now. 

(Preseason pick: Myles Garrett +700)

Offensive Rookie of the Year

Cadeaux: Drake London, WR, Atlanta Falcons (+600)

Notes: Jahan Dotson was my preseason pick for this award, which looks a lot better after he's scored four touchdowns through the first quarter of the season. The issue with picking Dotson again, though, is almost all of his production has come on touchdowns; otherwise, he's been a third- or fourth option in this offense. Couple that with that he's likely to miss a week or two with a hamstring injury and I must go otherwise. That brings me to Drake London, who's off to a strong start down in Atlanta. Right now, it's a two-man race between London and Saints' wideout Chris Olave. 

(Preseason pick: Jahan Dotson +2000)

Weyrich: Chris Olave, WR, New Orleans Saints (+500)

Notes: All due respect to Dameon Pierce here, but Chris Olave is still my early favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. Olave’s 292 air yards this season (receiving yards not including yards after the catch) rank third in the NFL behind only Tyreek Hill and Stefon Diggs. That’s some elite company to be in and he’s just getting started.

(Preseason pick: Chris Olave +1000)

DePrisco: Chris Olave, WR New Orleans Saints (+500)

Notes: I'm sticking with Olave as well. He's seeing a ton of targets -- nine per game -- and his connection with Jameis Winston was going along as advertised before the QB suffered a back injury. If Olave can avoid playing with Andy Dalton for too long he should be able to put up the stats to win this award.

(Preseason pick: Chris Olave +1000)

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Defensive Rookie of the Year

Cadeaux: Sauce Gardner, CB, New York Jets (+2200)

Notes: Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner was my preseason pick and through four weeks, I see no reason to change it. Yes, Devin Lloyd and Travon Walker are both off to strong starts in Jacksonville, along with Aidan Hutchinson in Detroit. Still, though, I'm going to stick with Sauce, who's been really solid for the Jets' defense through four weeks of the year.

(Preseason pick: Sauce Gardner +1000)

Weyrich: Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Detroit Lions (+600)

Notes: Aidan Hutchinson is holding onto the top spot for now, but he’s going to have to show he can do more than just dominate the Commanders. He racked up three sacks and two tackles for loss against Washington and has zero in both categories in his other three games. His strong effort against the Seahawks (five tackles, two QB hits) on Sunday kept him here for now.

(Preseason pick: Aidan Hutchinson +350)

DePrisco: Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Detroit Lions (+600)

Notes: This is one of the toughest awards to pick if you ask me since there hasn't been a rookie to truly break away from the field yet. Hutchinson plays on a Lions defense that hasn't been able to stop a nosebleed so far this season, but as this young Detroit team improves over the course of the year, Hutchinson will as well. Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn has already shown he's not afraid to move Hutchinson all over the defensive line and put him in situations that could free him up as a pass-rusher. His sack numbers might come in bunches all year as they have through the first four weeks. 

(Preseason pick: Kyle Hamilton +1200)

Comeback Player of the Year

Cadeaux: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers (+500 on PointsBet)

Notes: I picked McCaffrey to win this award preseason and the running back's strong start to 2022 has given me no reason to choose someone else four weeks later. I'm rolling with CMC here, who's played in just 10 games over the past two years.

(Preseason pick: Christian McCaffrey +900)

Weyrich: Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants (+175)

Notes: Just when we thought the Saquon Barkley of old might have been lost forever, he comes out of the gate hot to start 2022. Barkley leads the league in rushing attempts (84) and rushing yards (463) while carrying an otherwise pedestrian Giants offense.

(Preseason pick: Travis Etienne +3000)

DePrisco: Brian Robinson Jr., RB, Washington Commanders (+600)

Notes: Robinson Jr. appears close to making his NFL debut after he was shot in the leg during an attempted carjacking just before the regular season began. The fact that he's even able to play so soon after the incident is miraculous in itself, but there's a chance he could win some hardware as well. The Commanders need to establish the run to help an injured and struggling offensive line and Robinson Jr. was looking like Washington's best running back during preseason play.

(Preseason pick: Christian McCaffrey +900) 

Coach of the Year

Cadeaux: Nick Sirianni, Philadelphia Eagles (+175)

Notes: The Philadelphia Eagles are 4-0, which makes Nick Sirianni an easy choice for this award. But I'm not picking him just because the Eagles are undefeated; Philadelphia looks dominant, too, which is a testament to its second-year coach.

(Preseason pick: Kevin O'Connell +1400)

Weyrich: Mike McDaniel, Miami Dolphins (+750)

Notes: The job Mike McDaniel has done in Miami over these first four weeks has been nothing short of spectacular. Losing Tua Tagovailoa for a week or two will certainly present a stiff test for the first-year head coach, but he already has wins over Bill Belichick and John Harbaugh under his belt while getting his team out to an impressive 3-1 start.

(Preseason pick: Kevin O'Connell +1400)

DePrisco: Nick Sirianni, Philadelphia Eagles (+175)

Notes: The Eagles' improved roster and soft schedule made Sirianni an attractive Coach of the Year pick before the season and there's no reason to lose faith now after Philly jumped out to a 4-0 start. 

(Preseason pick: Nick Sirianni, Philadelphia Eagles +1400)