With the NFL regular season only weeks away, many players are gearing up for perhaps their biggest year yet. In the case of some athletes, they are looking to prove the doubters wrong after a disappointing campaign in 2021. For this list, SBS will take a closer look at the front runners for the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award and which athletes stand the best chance to prove that last season was a fluke. With two running backs and two quarterbacks on this countdown, offensive firepower will not be lacking this upcoming NFL season.
Below, SBS takes a deeper dive into what each contender brings to the table, who will end up winning the award and also some more thoughts about wagering on the NFL this season.
|Favorites to win The 2022 NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award|
The NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2020, “King Henry” had an injury-shortened campaign in 2021. Suffering from a Jones Fracture, the powerful running back was only able to appear in eight games last season, resulting in a solid, albeit underwhelming by his standards, 937 yards. If he is fully healthy, Henry has the ability to be the best running back in the league as evidenced by his two seasons as the league’s leading rusher (2019 and 2020). After eclipsing 2,000 yards in 2020, the Alabama product will be looking to get back on track in 2022.
Maybe the most intriguing player on this list, Winston has the opportunity to resurrect his career with the Saints in 2022. After being selected as the No. 1 overall pick in 2015, the former Florida State star had an up-and-down ride with Tampa Bay from 2015-19. While he did set a handful of franchise records with the Bucs along with leading the league in passing in 2019, he has shown to be an erratic decision-maker at times. Also in the 2019 campaign, he led the league in touchdowns and set an NFL record for interceptions returned for touchdowns. Nonetheless, Winston certainly has the talent to take the baton from the retiring Drew Brees and take New Orleans back to the playoffs.
Another extremely talented running back, the former Stanford All-American is one of the best dual-threat players in the league when healthy. After signing a four-year extension prior to the 2020 season, making him the highest-paid running back in NFL history at the time, McCaffrey has struggled with injuries. Last season he was hampered with a hamstring issue that allowed him to play in only seven contests. Though he has only been able to suit up for 10 games over the past two seasons, he is still only 26 years old and in the prime of his career. If he can get back to his 2019 form (he notched 1,387 rushing yards along with 1,005 receiving yards), then he will be a shoo-in for this honor.
Our final contender spotlight, Watson is also the most controversial selection on this list. Marred by numerous off-the-field issues, the Cleveland Browns signal-caller is looking for a fresh start in the AFC North. If he can get past this off-season’s hurdles and return to his 2020 form, then the Browns have an All-Pro caliber player at quarterback. However, that is a pretty big “if” and Watson still has to settle some of those distractions so the Browns can focus on returning to the top of the AFC North.
Prediction: With numerous All-Pro and Pro Bowl players littering this list, this award might come down to the wire. With that in mind, select McCaffrey to return to his 2019 Pro Bowl form in 2022 as the workhorse of the Panthers offense.
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