Patrick Mahomes pumps his fist
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NFL 2023 Regular Season Award Predictions

With the 2023 regular season almost here, FanBuzz's Matt Lombardo is providing his NFL predictions for individual awards.

The kickoff to the NFL season is rapidly approaching, which means prediction season is winding down.

Before the Kansas City Chiefs and Detroit Lions kickoff the 2023 campaign in front of a national audience on Thursday, Sept. 7, here's a look at my final predictions for the NFL's major awards; MVP, Offensive Player of The Year, Defensive Player of The Year, Rookies of The Year, Comeback Player of The Year, and Coach of The Year.

While some of the award picks feel like no-brainers, there are a few surprises as well

MVP: Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 12: Joe Burrow #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals jogs off the field after beating the Minnesota Vikings 27-24 in overtime of the Cincinnati Bengals against the Minnesota Vikings at Paul Brown Stadium on September 12, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Burrow enters the 2023 campaign with several key variables on his and the Bengals' side; talent, experience, explosiveness, and continuity.

During a stellar 2022 campaign, Burrow showed that he is still an ascending talent at the quarterback position, passing for 4,475 yards with a career-high 35 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions and a 100.8 passer rating while leading the Bengals back to the AFC Championship Game and the doorstep of a second consecutive Super Bowl. Burrow has the benefit of another season with already elite but still developing wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase on the receiving end of his passes, continuity when it comes to coach and scheme with head coach Zac Taylor, and a roster that is built to withstand the AFC's gauntlet.

The Bengals and Burrow are entering the prime phase for this franchise to win a Super Bowl, and if Burrow has the kind of season that makes that look like a reality, this might be the year he leapfrogs Mahomes for his first MVP award.

Offensive Player of The Year: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JANUARY 29: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs passes the ball during the AFC Championship NFL football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cincinnati Bengals at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on January 29, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Mahomes is the most gifted quarterback in the league, playing for an offensive mastermind as a head coach, leading one of the league's most consistently explosive offenses, almost assured to once again lead the Kansas City Chiefs into the Super Bowl conversation in the AFC.

Last season, it didn't matter that Tyreek Hill was a Miami Dolphin, Mahomes still passed for a career-high 5,250 yards with 41 touchdowns to 12 interceptions while leading Kansas City to a second Lombardi Trophy in the past four years. So long as Mahomes is behind center, the Chiefs are rightly a prohibitive AFC favorite to make it to Super Bowl Sunday. But, might this be the year that a slight down-tick in receivers keeps Mahomes from hoisting the MVP award? Time will tell, but the level of competition on the AFC side of the ledger creates a razor-thin margin for error.

Defensive Player of The Year: Haason Reddick, EDGE, Philadelphia Eagles

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - JANUARY 21: Haason Reddick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles reacts during the second quarter against the New York Giants in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 21, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Reddick was a driving force behind the Eagles' run to the Super Bowl last season, while leaving his mark on the franchise's postseason record book.

During his first season donning his hometown team's uniform, Reddick logged a career-high 19.5 combined regular season and postseason sacks, while adding 68 pressures emerging as a truly disruptive pass-rush presence off the edge in the Eagles' defense. This season, thanks to the Eagles drafting Jalen Carter and the expected emergence of second-year space-eater Jordan Davis, it wouldn't be the least bit surprising if Reddick is even more productive in 2023 based on a more dominant defensive line wreaking havoc in front of him.

Offensive Rookie of The Year: Zay Flowers, WR, Baltimore Ravens

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 26: Zay Flowers #4 of the Baltimore Ravens smiles prior to an NFL preseason football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on August 26, 2023 in Tampa, Florida.

Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The Ravens have built up a roster around — and a reputation as — being a ground and pound run-first offense, but spent the offseason adding dynamic weapons around electrifying quarterback Lamar Jackson to potentially throw open the playbook. Zay Flowers might be the most explosive new addition of all.

It's easy to see what drew Baltimore to Flowers, after he averaged 6.4 yards after the catch per reception, forced 15 missed tackles and posted an insane 58.3 percent contested catch rate, according to Pro Football Focus. The Ravens' success in 2023, and beyond, hinges on Jackson taking the next step towards being as efficient passer — especially downfield, as he is lethal as a runner. Flowers figures to be a driving force in Jackson's bid to return to an MVP caliber player, and if he does, look for the young wide receiver to take his place among the game's best at the position.

Defensive Rookie of The Year: Joey Porter Jr., Pittsburgh Steelers

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - AUGUST 19:  Joey Porter Jr. #24 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on during the preseason game against the Buffalo Bills at Acrisure Stadium on August 19, 2023 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Porter Jr. was one of the more physically imposing cornerbacks in a loaded draft class at the position, and now gets to follow in his legendary father's footsteps, aiming to make a significant impact on the Steelers' defense.

In a division that's loaded with elite wide receiver talent; from Cincinnati Bengals stars Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins to a deep Baltimore Ravens receiving corps led by Odell Beckham Jr. and fellow rookie Zay Flowers, just to name a few, Porter Jr. is going to get plenty of opportunities to showcase his skills against some of the most talented receivers the league has to offer.

According to Pro Football Focus, Porter Jr. held opposing quarterbacks to a meager 63.6 passer rating on 30 targets during his final season at Penn State while producing a career-high 77.4 coverage grade. If Porter Jr. comes close to replicating that kind of success in the NFL — against the caliber of competition he'll be facing, he'll be well on his way to becoming a household name.

Comeback Player of The Year: Damar Hamlin, DB, Buffalo Bills

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - AUGUST 26: Damar Hamlin #3 of the Buffalo Bills reacts in the first half of a preseason game against the Chicago Bearsat Soldier Field on August 26, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois.

Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

There isn't a better story in sports than Damar Hamlin coming back from the nightmare of suffering a cardiac arrest on the field, on national television, to not only walking out of the hospital but back onto the Buffalo Bills' 53-man roster. Hamlin's next chapter has the potential to be even more spectacular.

Not only is Hamlin's journey back onto the gridiron an inspiring story, but he figures to play a key role on Buffalo's special teams in addition to potentially contributing meaningful snaps on one of the league's premier defenses. If either Micah Hyde or Jordan Poyer go down at safety at any point during the season, Hamlin will play a starring role in bolstering his Comeback Player of The Year case. Not that it really needs it ...

Coach of The Year: Dan Campbell, Detroit Lions

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - AUGUST 19: Head coach Dan Campbell of the Detroit Lions looks on against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the preseason game at Ford Field on August 19, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan.

Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Get ready for the Detroit Lions' Motown Maulers era.

The Lions have come a long way since Campbell was a punchline for suggesting his team would 'eat kneecaps' during his introductory press conference, as head coach. Last season, Detroit was knocking on the doorstep of winning the NFC North thanks to Campbell's hyper-competitive culture, and this season boasts an explosively talented roster capable of kicking the door in. Aidan Hutchinson has already taken his place among the game's premier edge defenders, from the 2022 draft class, and Jahmyr Gibbs offers an elusive and versatile weapon to the Lions' offense. Detroit planted the seeds of a winning culture upon Campbell's arrival, and now has the players in place who can make winning a reality.