The preseason is good for a lot of things. Overhyping rookies off performances against vanilla defenses. Gratuitous social media clips of Tua Tagovailoa completing the simple act of throwing a football in a practice. Debating which trade the Philadelphia Eagles will pull off next. Your favorite player entering the season in the best shape of his life. And your friends seeking fantasy football advice. Make it stop!
But the preseason is largely empty calories. Now, we dig into the cheese curd bacon burger that is the regular season. Week 1 is here. Sundays shall be blessed. Rosters are built. Contenders are ready to contend. Pretenders won't validate the hype.
It's all about the matchups, the performances and the stars. The NFL has 1,696 roster spots on game day, along with 500-plus practice squad players. Only a few truly dominate. That's why we asked league execs and scouts to sort out which stars will shine brightest in 2022. Who will win the game's top awards at season's end?
MVP always stirs the most debate. Aaron Rodgers is vying for a third consecutive MVP. Josh Allen is looking for his first, and many think he might get it. Tom Brady might mess around and lead the NFL in passing again. Patrick Mahomes hasn't gone away. And young guns Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert are ready to build off monster second seasons.
Will a quarterback win Offensive Player of the Year? Not if a young star receiver channels Cooper Kupp for the triple crown, or a running back flirts with 2,000 yards. While top edge rushers try to unseat Aaron Donald or T.J. Watt for a first Defensive Player of the Year award, the Rookie of the Year race has a chance to get wildly unpredictable. Regardless of the category, finding consensus from the league was tough. Finding a surprise was not.