This year’s National Football League season has already begun and is set to be a good one. In the first week of matchups, we saw surprising upsets in the Green Bay Packers vs. the New Orleans Saints and the nail-biting, overtime games e like the Baltimore Ravens vs. the Las Vegas Raiders. The coming weeks of matchups are expected to be equally as good, if not better, than week one. Players returning from injury are finally getting real reps. Namely, Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants, Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys, Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers and Chandler Jones of the Arizona Cardinals. So which one of them will be the comeback player of the year?
Predicting who will be the comeback player of the year could be difficult, as many eligible players had a fantastic first week, such as Dak Prescott. Prescott is my pick for comeback player of the year, and perhaps a contender for more awards at the end of the season. Other players such as Christian McCaffrey, who had 89 yards receiving yards on nine receptions with just as many targets, also stacked up 98 rushing yards with 21 attempts. Though he didn’t get any touchdowns, it was still a jaw-dropping performance. It’s just not as impressive as the 403 yards and three touchdowns Prescott had.
Prescott’s incredible performance may seem like a one-off, but if you remember last season, before his injury, Prescott was set to have a record-breaking season racking up 1,690 yards in just his first four games. Now, coming back from his compound ankle fracture, it seems he intends to return to last season’s antics. For that reason, Prescott is my pick for not only the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year but also the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.
Although I predict a monumental season for Dak Prescott, I cannot say the same for the Dallas Cowboys as a whole. I believe the Cowboys will lose in the National Football Conference Championship to the defending Super Bowl champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On the other side of the league, I predict a Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs American Football Conference Championship. Although the Bills lost in week one to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the one-two punch between Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs is too good to count them out for the rest of the season. Between the injuries to the Baltimore Ravens and the culture surrounding the Cleveland Browns, the safest pick for the AFC conference championship is the Browns versus the Chiefs. The Chiefs will be a perennial contender for the Super Bowl with Patrick Mahomes on their roster. Because of that, I believe they will win against the Bills in the AFC championship and continue to defeat the defending champs in a rematch of last year’s Super Bowl.
On the defensive side of the ball, there is one name that immediately comes to mind season after season: Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams. Donald posted one sack in week one, which pales compared to Chandler Jones’s sack game. Although it wasn’t his best week, Donald is still one of if not the best defensive players in the NFL, and that is proven by other teams deciding to double team him on 70.5 percent of snaps in 2020. Aaron Donald regularly puts up unreal stat lines while being double-teamed on a majority of snaps, and this is reason enough to have him as the defensive player of the year.
Now for the rookies of the year, I have many predictions. Firstly for the Defensive Rookie of the Year, the ravings of the Dallas Cowboys about the multi-positional play of first-round pick Micah Parson are substantiated. Although Parsons will be competing for minutes against two of his teammates, he is expected to break away from his competitors as the linebackers; one for the future and for now.
As for the offensive rookie of the year, my pick would have been Trevor Lawrence in a heartbeat, but considering the Jacksonville Jaguars’ tough loss to a depleted Texans team in week one, Lawrence may need time to adjust to the NFL. That being said, Lawrence is still a viable option to win Rookie of the Year; he would just have to beat out star receivers such as Jamarr Chase and Davonta Smith.
Chase was drafted to the Cincinnati Bengals with the fifth overall pick last year and Smith won the Heisman trophy before being drafted tenth overall to the Philadelphia Eagles. Both got to work immediately in week one for their respective teams. Perhaps Najee Haris, who also had a lackluster week one for the Pittsburgh Steelers, will pick up the pace in the coming weeks. He received 16 rushing attempts and three targets but wasn’t able to do much with either. Harris seems like a big part of the Steelers offense and is another real candidate for rookie of the year. Lastly, Kyle Pitts from the Atlanta Falcons has a genuine chance to become the first-ever tight end to win this award. Pitts main competition for the ball will be Calvin Ridley, but due to the great matchups Pitts can have, I believe he has an incredible chance to win the offensive rookie of the year award.