With the regular season in the books, and the Post Season about to kick off, TRO is handing out it's regular season awards and predicting the Super Bowl matchup and champion.
via Tailgater Magazine
The 2021 - 2022 Regular Season was an absolute wild one. Before we kickoff Super Wild Card Weekend, TRO is handing out its annual rewards, setting out who is most deserving to win Most Valuable Player, Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, Offensive Rookie of the Year, Defensive Rookie of the Year, and Coach of the Year. We will also be recognizing the runner ups, the people who made our decisions tough.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER (MVP): Aaron Rodgers - Green Bay Packers
via AP Photo
For the majority of the year, the MVP race has been a back and forth battle between Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. Look for Rodgers to repeat, earning the honor for the second consecutive year. His play throughout the final the quarter of the Season separates him from Brady and the other candidates. He led his team to a 13-3 record while completing 68.9% of his passes for 4,115 yards, 37 touchdowns, and only 4 interceptions. Brady surpassed him in yardage and touchdowns, but also in interceptions.
What further separates Rodgers, apart from his team's record, is the fact that he played all year without his star left tackle, David Bhatikari, starting tight end and touchdown machine, Robert Tonyan, running back Aaron Jones missed a significant portion of time, and there were also notable injuries to Jaire Alexander, and Za'Darius Smith. That only begins to scratch the surface on the injuries suffered by Green Bay. While Tampa Bay is a bit beat up at this point in the Season, their production and Brady's play has taken a dip as a result, whereas Rodgers and the Packers stood tall.
Rodgers has remained a model of consistency, posting an unbelievably efficient season, willing his team to clinching the number one overall seed and home field advantage throughout the Playoffs.
Runner Up: Tom Brady - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR (OPOY): Cooper Kupp - Los Angeles Rams
via Joe Nicholson / USA TODAY Sports
Jonathan Taylor has had a tremendous season running the rock for the Indianapolis Colts, but what Cooper Kupp has achieved has been outer-worldly. Kupp finished the season with 145 catches for 1,947 yards, and 16 touchdowns, becoming the fourth player to bring home the receiving triple crown all time, and the first since Steve Smith did in 2005 (leading the League in catches, yards, and touchdowns).
Kupp kept the Rams' offense potent, and was the most electric offensive player in the League this year. This one is really a no brainer. Taylor kept the pressure on Cupp, but didn't put up the same type of staggering numbers. It is also worth noting that Derrick Henry finished the Season 9th in rushing yards, despite not playing since Week 8, taking some of the wow-factor out of Taylor's otherwise phenomenal season.
Runner Up: Jonathan Taylor - Indianapolis Colts
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR (DPOY): T.J. Watt - Pittsburgh Steelers
via SteelersWire / USA Today
T.J. Watt will finally get his flowers, earning his first Defensive Player of the Year award after coming up short in the past. He was an absolute menace this year, tying Michael Strahan's all-time single-season record of 22.5 sacks, and doing so in just 15 games played.
Watt also racked up 64 total tackles (48 solo), 21 tackles for loss, 39 quarterback hits, 5 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, and 7 pass deflections. He was a one-man wrecking crew this Season. Watt's greatness went far past the numbers as well. The sacks he picked up, or fumbles he forced, almost always seemed to be late in games, directly affecting the final outcome. The Steelers would not be in the playoffs if it were not for Watt.
Micah Parsons has had a tremendous year, and has essentially turned the Cowboys' defense around all by himself. However, Watt's record-breaking year turns more heads, and the fact that Parsons is a rookie will put the voters in a similar situation as a non-quarterback vs. a quarterback for MVP and OPOY. There's always that second award which they will use to recognize both players.
Runner Up: Micah Parsons - Dallas Cowboys
COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Joe Burrow - Cincinnati Bengals
via USA Today Sports
Dak Prescott had an early lead on this award, and probably would be our third choice. He came right back, looking exactly like the same ole Dak we saw last year. As gruesome as his ankle injury was, Joe Burrow suffered a demoralizing and excruciating knee injury, which left everyone unsure as to its longterm effects on his career. Burrow essentially had to relearn basic movements, and the fact that the injury happened to him as a rookie raised concerns about his longterm development mentally.
Burrow has the mental toughness of an all-time great, and he showcased it this year. The injury didn't phase him one bit as he lit up the scoreboard, filled the stat sheet, and led his Bengals team to their first playoff bid since the Wild Card in 2015. He especially impressed during the final stretch of the Season, clinching the AFC North and sticking it to the Kansas City Chiefs.
We've got Nick Bosa as our runner up. Bosa suffered a torn ACL at the onset of his second year, after posting 9 sacks as a rookie. He came out the gates without missing a beat this year, finishing the season with 15.5 sacks. Bosa should steal some votes away from Burrow, but he won't take them all.
Runner Up: Nick Bosa - San Francisco 49ers
OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR (OROY): Ja'Marr Chase - Cincinnati Bengals
via BengalsWire / USA Today
This one is a no-brainer. With 81 catches for 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns, Ja'Marr Chase certainly didn't play like a rookie. We have to remind everyone about the media outrage over his preseason drops, and the taken-way-out-of-context comment by him about the stripes on the balls making them easier to catch in college. Chase plays like a veteran in the prime of his career. In just his first season, he has already broken Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson's single season franchise receiving yards record, and in that same game, he accomplished the most single game receiving yards by a rookie of all-time (266).
Mac Jones might get a couple of votes for being the starting quarterback on the Patriots, and playing well enough to steer them into the playoffs, but his season has not been anywhere near as impressive as Chase's.
Runner Up: Mac Jones - New England Patriots
DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR (DROY): Micah Parsons - Dallas Cowboys
via Wesley Hitt / Getty Images
If you're in consideration for DPOY as a rookie, you certainly are a lock for DROY. Dallas lined up Parsons as a MLB, an OLB, down in the dirt as a DE, and it didn't matter. He wrecked havoc no matter where he lined up. He made this Dallas Defense far tougher to scheme against than it has been in previous years. Parsons finished the Season with 13 sacks, 84 total tackles (64 solo), 20 tackles for loss, 30 quarterback hits, 3 pass deflections, and 3 forced fumbles.
There's no chance Parsons does not win this award, but Patrick Surtain, II deserves recognition for looking like the shutdown corner he was drafted to be.
Runer Up: Patrick Surtain, II - Denver Broncos
COACH OF THE YEAR: Mike Vrabel - Tennessee Titans
via Steven Senne / AP Photo
The Tennessee Titans clinched the number one overall seed in the AFC despite not having Derrick Henry since Week 8. Nearly every single game they played in was close. Vrabel had his guys ready to play nearly each and every week, overcoming a whole heap of injuries outside of King Henry as well. The Titans deployed the most players in the League this year, and its not even close. There were times it was hard to figure out who was taking the field for Tennessee each week, but Vrabel squeezed the most out of these guys and found ways to keep this ship afloat.
Mike Tomlin did continue his streak to 15 straight seasons of never having a losing record (which is absolutely unreal), and snuck his team into the Wild Card despite the clear effects of Father Time on Ben Roethlisberger, injuries, and poor offensive line play. All looked lost for the Steelers a few weeks ago, but Tomlin kept them focused and it paid off. That being said, what Vrabel did with Tennessee and locking up the number one seed deserves more recognition.
Runner Up: Mike Tomlin - Pittsburgh Steelers
SUPER BOWL MATCHUP: Buffalo Bills v. Green Bay Packers
Champion: Green Bay Packers
We've got the Green Bay Packers defeating the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl LVI. This seems to be the year the Packers push themselves over that hump they've struggled to overcome as of late. Everything seems to be clicking, they're the only team in the League getting healthier going to the Playoffs, and NFC teams will have to travel to Lambeau Field for each game for the first time in Rodgers' career. This is a scary team that is well-coached, has a stout defense, a physical, two-headed monster at running back, the second best receiver in the League, and the likely back-to-back MVP at the helm. It'll be tough stopping the Pack as Rodgers looks to add to his legacy.
The Bills have disappointed to a degree this year. However, they've gotten hot at just the right time. They will start off with a home game, and Sean McDermott will absolutely unleash Josh Allen. This team will aggressively call plays, won't be afraid to utilize Allen's legs, and their defense will turn up the heat, launching them on a run to the final game. Unfortunately for them, it won't be enough to overcome Green Bay.
Time will tell if we've nailed these predictions on the head or not, stay tuned!