2021 NFL season award predictions: Who'll win MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year?

With the 2021 NFL season just around the corner, NFL.com’s analysts predict who they think will win some of the league’s most prestigious individual awards, including:

  • MVP
  • Offensive Player of the Year
  • Defensive Player of the Year
  • Offensive Rookie of the Year
  • Defensive Rookie of the Year
  • Comeback Player of the Year
  • Coach of the Year

Participating analysts: Judy Battista, Jeremy Bergman, Ali Bhanpuri, Tom Blair, Gil Brandt, David Carr, Brooke Cersosimo, Jeffri Chadiha, Gennaro Filice, Cynthia Frelund, Chase Goodbread, Marcas Grant, DeAngelo Hall, Dan Hanzus, Maurice Jones-Drew, Shaun O’Hara, Dan Parr, Kevin Patra, Scott Pioli, Adam Rank, Chad Reuter, Gregg Rosenthal, Marc Ross, Adam Schein, Marc Sessler, Nick Shook, Matt Smith, Joe Thomas, Lance Zierlein.

NOTE: All betting lines — listed parenthetically — are courtesy of Caesars Sports Book and are current as of 1 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Sept. 1.

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(16 votes: Battista, Bergman, Brandt, Goodbread, Grant, Hanzus, Jones-Drew, O’Hara, Parr, Pioli, Rank, Reuter, Rosenthal, Ross, Sessler, Shook)

2. Josh Allen ( +1200) | 6 votes: Filice, Frelund, Patra, Schein, Smith, Zierlein

T-3. Tom Brady (+1200) | 2 votes: Chadiha, Hall

T-3. Matthew Stafford (+2000) | 2 votes: Carr, Cersosimo

T-5. Aaron Donald (+12500) | 1 vote: Blair

T-5. Aaron Rodgers (+1000) | 1 vote: Thomas

T-5. Russell Wilson (+1800) | 1 vote: Bhanpuri

Why David Carr chose Matthew Stafford: I’ve raved all offseason about the Rams-Stafford marriage. The veteran passer is a perfect fit for Sean McVay’s system, and we’ll see the evidence all over the stat sheet. The longtime Lion will excel on play-action, tight-window throws, deep passes and under pressure. Stafford’s numbers have been great — elite, at times — throughout his career. But now, playing on a contender, he’ll finally get the credit he deserves.

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(5 votes: Cersosimo, Filice, Grant, Jones-Drew, Parr)

T-2. Josh Allen | 4 votes: Brandt, Hall, O’Hara, Ross

T-2. Nick Chubb | 4 votes: Patra, Rank, Smith, Thomas

T-4. Patrick Mahomes | 3 votes: Blair, Pioli, Reuter

T-4. Aaron Rodgers | 3 votes: Frelund, Goodbread, Schein

T-6. Davante Adams | 1 vote: Chadiha

T-6. Tom Brady | 1 vote: Battista

T-6. Dalvin Cook | 1 vote: Zierlein

T-6. Derrick Henry | 1 vote: Shook

T-6. Justin Herbert | 1 vote: Sessler

T-6. Alvin Kamara | 1 vote: Bergman

T-6. Kyler Murray | 1 vote: Hanzus

T-6. Dak Prescott | 1 vote: Bhanpuri

T-6. Darren Waller | 1 vote: Carr

Why Maurice Jones-Drew chose Christian McCaffrey: The last time CMC played a full season in 2019, he eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing and receiving. He may not account for 52.5 percent of offensive touches like he did in that season, but I still expect the dynamic running back to be prominently featured in Joe Brady’s offense. Another 1,000/1,000 campaign could be in play.

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(10 votes: Battista, Bergman, Blair, Brandt, Filice, Grant, Hanzus, Parr, Pioli, Shook)

T-2. Aaron Donald (+400) | 6 votes: Carr, Frelund, Jones-Drew, Rank, Reuter, Schein

T-2. T.J. Watt (+650) | 6 votes: Chadiha, Hall, O’Hara, Patra, Ross, Thomas

4. Derwin James (+2800) | 3 votes: Bhanpuri, Sessler, Smith

5. Chase Young (+1600) | 2 votes: Cersosimo, Zierlein

T-6. Chris Jones (+5000) | 1 vote: Rosenthal

T-6. Jalen Ramsey (+3000) | 1 vote: Goodbread

Why Gil Brandt chose Myles Garrett: Garrett has long been on the precipice of breaking out. COVID-19 kept him from contending for DPOY in 2020, when he logged a blistering nine sacks in his first seven games — and I really feel like this is the year for him to claim the hardware that would cement his place among the NFL’s premier defenders. Cleveland has assembled a strong defense that should make it even more difficult for opponents to focus on stopping Garrett, meaning he should have plenty of opportunities to pile up stats. The former No. 1 overall pick is incredibly talented and hardworking, and now he’s finally surrounded by a supporting cast that is primed to help him shine.

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(7 votes: Battista, Bhanpuri, Blair, Filice, Frelund, Pioli, Ross)

2. Zach Wilson (+700) | 5 votes: Carr, Hanzus, Jones-Drew, Rank, Smith

T-3. Najee Harris (+1000) | 4 votes: Brandt, Grant, Parr, Reuter

T-3. Trevor Lawrence (+350) | 4 votes: Cersosimo, Goodbread, Shook, Zierlein

T-5. Mac Jones (+450) | 3 votes: O’Hara, Schein, Thomas

T-5. Trey Lance (+700) | 3 votes: Patra, Rosenthal, Sessler

T-5. Kyle Pitts (+1100) | 3 votes: Bergman, Chadiha, Hall

Why Judy Battista chose Justin Fields: He may not be the Bears’ starter out of the gate, but it won’t be long until the rookie passer supplants Andy Dalton. Fields’ dynamic playmaking and improvisational skills, and the Bears’ better overall team, should give him the edge over Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson. 

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(15 votes: Battista, Blair, Goodbread, Hanzus, O’Hara, Parr, Patra, Rank, Reuter, Rosenthal, Schein, Sessler, Smith, Thomas, Zierlein)

2. Patrick Surtain (+800) | 11 votes: Bhanpuri, Brandt, Cersosimo, Chadiha, Filice, Frelund, Grant, Hall, Jones-Drew, Pioli, Shook

T-3. Jamin Davis (+900) | 1 vote: Ross

T-3. Trevon Moehrig (+3000) | 1 vote: Carr

T-3. Joe Tryon-Shoyinka (+2000) | 1 vote: Bergman

Why Gregg Rosenthal chose Micah Parsons: This was the easiest prediction of the entire exercise. Middle linebackers are great candidates for this award because they are so easy for voters to notice. And even the dumbest football mind could see Parsons’ preseason work and realize that he’s faster and more explosive than anyone else on the field.

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(15 votes: Battista, Bhanpuri, Blair, Brandt, Chadiha, Filice, Grant, Hall, Jones-Drew, Parr, Pioli, Sessler, Shook, Thomas, Zierlein)

2. Christian McCaffrey (+750) | 5 votes: Cersosimo, Frelund, Hanzus, Rank, Reuter

T-3. Saquon Barkley (+750) | 2 votes: Goodbread, O’Hara

T-3. Nick Bosa (+1200) | 2 votes: Bergman, Rosenthal

T-3. Derwin James (+1800) | 2 votes: Patra, Schein

T-6. Odell Beckham Jr. (+2500) | 1 vote: Ross

T-6. Sam Darnold (+2000) | 1 vote: Smith

T-6. Carson Wentz (+1000) | 1 vote: Carr

Why Marc Ross chose Odell Beckham Jr.: Although Dak is a more obvious choice, I’m getting personal and rooting for one of our former Giants draft picks. With an already-loaded offense in Cleveland, the return of a healthy OBJ will boost Baker Mayfield and the Browns attack to top-five status. Simultaneously, Beckham will re-establish himself as a unique talent and playmaker with a campaign surpassing even his historical first three seasons.

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(6 votes: Grant, Pioli, Ross, Shook, Thomas, Zierlein)

T-2. Kyle Shanahan (+1500) | 5 votes: Bergman, Patra, Rank, Rosenthal, Sessler
T-2. Brandon Staley (+1500) | 5 votes: Brandt, Cersosimo, Chadiha, Jones-Drew, Smith
4. Sean McDermott (+1800) | 4 votes: Blair, Filice, Frelund, Reuter
5. Sean Payton (+2000) | 3 votes: O’Hara, Parr, Schein** T-6. Bruce Arians (+2000) | 2 votes: Bhanpuri, Hall
T-6. Robert Saleh (+2000) | 2 votes: Carr, Hanzus
T-8. Brian Flores (+1500) | 1 vote: Battista
T-8. Andy Reid (+1800) | 1 vote: Goodbread

Why Nick Shook chose Kevin Stefanski: Stefanski won the award last season by turning the Browns from pretenders into contenders, and he repeats in 2021 by achieving what was previously considered impossible. Stefanski leads Cleveland to its first division title since 1989, then pulls off a postseason upset of the Chiefs en route to a place no Browns coach has gone before: the Super Bowl.

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