NFL News & Analysis

NFL 2022 Midseason Award Winners: Josh Allen secures MVP, Sauce Gardner claims Defensive Rookie of the Year

Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) reacts against the Kansas City Chiefs during the third quarter of the AFC Divisional playoff football game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Allen beats out fellow star QBs for MVP: Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts both have strong cases for the award through Week 8, but it's Allen who reigns supreme.

Tyreek Hill remains unstoppable: The new Miami Dolphins wideout is the Offensive Player of the Year through Week 8 after a dynamic start to the season.

• Who wins a tight Comeback Player of the Year race?: Geno Smith and Saquon Barkley are the two clear candidates for the award thus far.

Estimated Reading Time: 6 mins

Editor's Note: All BetMGM odds as of Monday, Oct. 31.

MVP: QB Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills 

You could make a case for Patrick Mahomes or Jalen Hurts here, but the MVP of the league through Week 8 has to be Josh Allen. Not only are the Bills the No. 1 seed in the AFC and the team to beat this year, but he is currently the highest-graded quarterback in the NFL (90.6). 

Buffalo has the No. 2 scoring offense in the NFL (29.0 points per game), and they've already defeated three former MVP quarterbacks: Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers. And in every one of those games, Allen has outplayed the opposing signal-caller

Allen is on pace to total over 6,000 yards this season, which no quarterback in NFL history has ever done. He's already scored 21 touchdowns this season and leads the NFL in big-time throws (20).

Defensive Player of the Year: EDGE Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys

Micah Parsons was in the conversation for the Defensive MVP award last season after recording 13 sacks, and he has somehow managed to improve his game for 2022, making a huge play or two every week. 

Parsons has already recorded eight sacks this season and has not yet had a game with fewer than three pressures. And now, he's starting to make other splash plays, such as returning a fumble for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears in Week 8. 

The overall numbers for Parsons this season are just silly. He has recorded 39 pressures, including 22 hurries, on 231 pass-rush snaps — putting him in a tie for the NFL pressure lead at the position. He pairs that with a 23.8% pass-rush win rate and nine run stops. 

No other player in the league has a bigger impact on games than Parsons, and he is the biggest reason the Cowboys sit at 6-2 after Week 8. In fact, you could make a strong argument that he is in the MVP conversation, just behind Allen after his start to the season.

Offensive Player of the Year: WR Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins

There were some concerns about how Tyreek Hill would perform without Patrick Mahomes throwing to him in 2022, but they are all gone now. Hill joked with a reporter earlier in the season that he could put up numbers with anyone at quarterback. He might not be that far off. 

Despite playing with three different starting quarterbacks this season, Hill is the highest-graded receiver in the NFL through Week 8 (90.8). He leads the NFL in receptions (69) and receiving yards (961), helping the Dolphins get off to a 5-3 start. 

Hill already has four games this season with 160 or more receiving yards, averaging nearly 14 yards per reception. His 3.68 yards per route run figure is miles ahead of the next-best wideout. There isn’t a more dynamic receiver in the NFL, and he is showing the rest of the league why the Dolphins were so wise to give up the house for the three-time All-Pro receiver.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: WR Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints

The Saints gave up a king’s ransom to draft Chris Olave, and while that still seems like a questionable decision, they did nail their evaluation. Olave was considered an NFL-ready prospect coming out of Ohio State, and he’s been that and more so far. He is currently the No. 10 graded receiver in the NFL (79.8), totaling 547 receiving yards and two touchdowns in seven games this season. Olave’s average depth of target this season is 16.2 yards, which ranks sixth highest in the NFL among qualifying receivers. 

He’s managed to be productive despite playing with three different quarterbacks (Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton, Taysom Hill), and he’s developed into the Saints' most trusted offensive player with Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry out of the lineup. Assuming he can stay healthy, Olave should run away with the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, as he is on pace to surpass both 1,200 yards and 80 receptions. 

Defensive Rookie of the Year: CB Sauce Gardner, New York Jets

Not only has Sauce Gardner been among the best rookie defenders in the league, but he’s also been one of the best defensive players in the NFL this season. Period. Gardner has quickly established himself as one of the best cornerbacks in the league, as he has not allowed more than 51 receiving yards in any game this season.  

Gardner has been even more impressive in the past three weeks, allowing a combined 25 yards on 21 targets. Quarterbacks have generated a 59.4 passer rating when targeting Gardner, and he already has racked up a league-high 10 pass breakups.

Gardner is currently the No. 4 graded cornerback in the NFL and has completely changed the identity of the Jets' defense. He is already a superstar who keeps getting better every week, putting him firmly in the conversation as the best cornerback in the NFL.

Comeback Player of the Year: QB Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks

The only other player who has a real chance of winning this award this season is New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, who has been incredible through Week 8. In any other year, he would take home the award without question. But how can you not be impressed with what Geno Smith and the Seahawks are doing?

For the first time since 2014, Smith was an opening day starter for a team. He had started a combined four games since the beginning of the 2015 season before this year. And what has he done so far in his eight starts? He's led the Seahawks to a 5-3 record and a first-place standing in the NFC West. 

Not only are the Seahawks playing well with Smith, but he’s also having a breakout season. He is currently PFF’s No. 2-ranked quarterback in PFF grade (88.4), behind only Josh Allen (90.5). In addition, Smith ranks third in big-time throw rate (6.3%) and has a career-high 107.2 passer rating.

Smith has been outstanding this year and is playing like one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

Coach of the Year: Brian Daboll, New York Giants

The odds-on favorite to win the coach of the year is Nick Sirianni, who has the Philadelphia Eagles sitting pretty at 7-0. But he hasn't even been the most impressive coach in his division. Instead, that honor belongs to first-year head coach Brian Daboll, who has made the New York Giants relevant again. 

The Giants hadn't won more than six games since 2016, yet they've already reached that number through eight weeks this season. Their two losses this season came against the Dallas Cowboys and the Seattle Seahawks — games in which the Giants were competitive.

Daboll has his players performing well above expectations, and they are doing so despite several injuries on both sides of the ball. With a relatively easy schedule ahead of them, New York should be a near-lock to make the playoffs this year. That seemed incomprehensible before the season, but the Giants are playing exceptionally well under their first-year head coach.


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